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Pick a Word to Begin Your Story

By Jan Edwards


We love to find stories of our families we are researching. It is so exciting to find a good story. I found the WWI Draft Registration on one of my great grandfathers and it said he was missing his left hand. I asked my mom did she know that and she said “Yes, he was hunting and used the gun as a cane and blew his hand off.”

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"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 Aug 2014), Washington > Yakima County; H-Searle, Charles W. > image 4048 of 5763; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d).

I would never have known that had I not found the document. No one ever said a word until I asked. I wonder down the road if our great grandchildren are going to want stories about us? Journal keeping is very time consuming. Most people will tell you that they just don’t have time to keep a good journal. Now that Facebook has been invented, everyone keeps a basic journal for the world to see.

Here is the way I like to write stories about my memories: I call it memory trigger words. I pick a word or two then write all the memories that come to my mind.

For example, think of all the memories that the word “LAUGH” brings. Then I write them down. One idea could be times that you laughed so hard.

What stories do these words bring to mind: fire, snow, flat tire, car wreck, won, lost, Christmas, thunder, gift, hated, liked? It’s really fun, and you will be surprised at the memories that flood back with one word triggers!

Keeping a journal is probably the smarter thing as it is recorded at the time of the event. Memories are sometimes, how do I say this kindly...faded. So get started writing your memories! Pick a word and write!

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