Personal Journaling "Forensics" to Hunt Down The Lost Chapters in Your Life 

Personal journaling and crime have one thing in common. When someone or something goes missing, one has to investigate to find the missing.

Journal writers sometimes regret periods of silence in their journal writing.  Big chunks of life go missing during key moments of their lives.  

These missing journal entries may be the year that you turned 14,  your first year as a married couple or the year that you first became a parent. 

These "missing" years occurred perhaps because you were too busy, too excited about something else or maybe you didn't start journaling until later on in your life.  

Regardless, unless these missing moments are recovered and permanently made a part of your personal journaling effort, they are in danger of never being found (remembered) and subsequently forgotten. Then, as I like remind everyone, stories forgotten can never be retold.

Time for some "forensic" personal journaling!  Are you ready?

To do this you are going to interview "witnesses", use "investigative tools" and sift through "evidence". 

Interviewing Witnesses

Who else shares the same memories? 

Your spouse is an obvious choice here. Perhaps a close friend could be of help. Conduct an "investigative interview" with any persons of interest.

Nah, in reality just have a good chat and talk about the old days with them. 

My wife can usually remember the same event or period of time in much greater detail than I. Even if your ability to remember things is very good, others will still remember things that you never will. Likewise, you'll remember things that they won't.  

This is due to individual perspective and is only natural.

Other witnesses to these years might include grandparents, old family friend or other close associates or family members.

Use Investigative Tools to Aid Your Personal Journaling

Recreate the year in question by recalling general information about the year such as the top news headlines, popular music etc. 

Music is a powerful tool for recollecting memories. We associate memories and songs together.  I highly suggest using a service like If you aren't using the Spotify app already, you are missing out.

Go download it! 

For those who do have it, use it to find and listen to short clips of songs from yesteryear. Use the Spotify search to find the year you are looking for. 

Many of these songs will trigger a memory from your life that has been dormant for years. This will be a lot of, by the way! 

Next go to and select the year(s) that you are investigating. This website takes you back to the general events and happenings of every year since 1900.  

Memories are tied to the news and other happenings in the world. We remember where we were and what we were doing the moment we "heard 

Sift Through the Evidence

Lastly, gather evidence to help your investigate along. 

Family Photos: Find all the family photos that you can, from the approximate time frame you are reconstructing. Don't overlook what is in  the background of the photos either.  Is there anything in the photos background that sparks a memory? 

What were the circumstances surrounding the time that a particular photos was taken? Who is in the picture?     

Old Family Video: Basically the same as above.

Memorabilia Boxes: I think we all have at least one of these. These boxes might include old journals, letters/sent email, letterman's jacket, high school yearbooks etc.  

You never know what you might find in there that will help your investigation.

Web Search:  If you lived in a different location, during the year in question, use to find photos of the area you used to live in.  

I did an image search for Monterey, California. This is where my wife and I made our first home. The Google image search found photos that brought back memories from our year as newlyweds. Included where photos of places we had frequented often.  

No matter how diligent you are when it comes to personal journaling, there will always be missing chapters, but hopefully these journaling tips will help you find the most important ones and get them recorded in your journal.

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