I heard a quote that within 50 years after a person dies, there is no more record of them. I have thought about that a lot. What will my great-grandkids know about me, if anything? What will my grandkids remember about me? What do I wish I knew about my great-grandmothers? If everyone had left a record of their life, I wouldn’t have so many unanswered questions, right?
So assuming most of you are commoners like me, I am going to do some posts related to things we can do so we will be remembered, starting with journals.
When he was called to be President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1973, Spencer W. Kimball had 33 black binders on a shelf that contained his journals. He promised that if we kept journals and records, they would be “a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations.”
I took his advice to heart and in 1976 started writing in a journal. My journals have contained different things at different times in my life. Sometimes they are a way for me to work out problems. At other times they are spiritual records. And sometimes they are just normal or unusual events of my everyday life.
I have had occasion to refer back to them to give someone inspiration, to settle an argument, or to recall a tender moment. President Kimball said your journal is your biography. “What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?”
And what do you write in your journal? According to President Kimball, you should record “your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies.”
Can you even imagine if you had the journals of your grandfather who was born in 1757 in England, came here to fight in the Revolutionary War, and lived until 1839? Or what if you could read the journal of your grandmother who lost her husband in 1883 and raised her eight children alone in the western wilderness? Yes, some of those amazing stories do remain, but most are long lost, or have been retold so often that most of the facts are twisted.
So, genealogists especially should know better than to leave this earth without leaving a record. And if you haven’t done it yet, it is never too late to start! Now that you have had your pep talk, the next post will give you some ideas of what might go inside a journal.