Preserving Family History: Your Family's Year in Review

Simple Ideas and Strategies to Preserve Your Family's Memories and Milestones

As another year draws to an end, it is time to reflect and preserve the individual and family memories of the past year. Your family's year in review!

Things not written down or recorded are usually forgotten...plain and simple!


It will be impossible to preserve everything that happened, within your family, this past year, so only concentrate on the milestones and highlights. It will be rewarding to look back someday!

Ideally we’d all keep a daily, weekly or monthly journal throughout the year, but often times, we don’t keep up with one. So its time for a little catch up work.


Begin by ...

Breaking down the year by month, season and/or major family events of the year. Even if all you end up with is a list of twenty events, that happened during the year, great! 


Health: What big changes in your health occurred this year? If this category does not jog your memory; it is probably a good thing.

Prescriptions: Anything newly prescribed to you this year? What was it for? Again, this is only a suggestion to spark your memory of things that happened over the past year. Some will consider this too private and that is fine.

Occupation: Write about changes and highlights in your career. Tell about awards won, promotions received or interesting happenings around the office or on the job.

History: Write about “This time a year ago…”

Births: Any newborns this year?

Deaths in the Family:  Write about those who have passed away this year. Include family, friends and, if there was a well-known individual (someone famous) that also passed, tell about them as well if that person meant anything to you.

Travel and Residences: Where did you travel to this year? Who did you travel to see? Who in the family moved closer or farther away? Why did they or you move this year?

List your major purchases throughout the year: What prompted these purchases? Take a look in your wallet or purse to dig up old receipts. Use copies of old checks, or an online bank ledger/statement to remind you of where you went and what you did.

Children: Don’t forget your children. What were some of the accomplishments in their lives this past year?

Kid Art: Scan young children’s drawings and art projects. They draw and create so many and it is hard to keep them all. It is even harder to throw them away. Select the best and scan them and save them digitally.


Digital Photos

Review your pictures taken and video shot during the last year. Describe the events seen in the pictures and events. For example, birthday parties, events at school with the kids etc.

It is very easy to lose digital photos, year to year. That is unless you do something to keep track of them.

Personally, I make sure that extended family gets a copy of our best family photos. Multiple copies lessens the chance that a particular photo will ever be lost...or accidentally deleted.


Some Additional Quick Tips

Having trouble remembering?

  • Look for scribbled-in notes on your wall or desk calendar. Don’t throw it away until you check to see what you’ve written on it.

  • Get with other members of your family. See what they remember. Don't think you have to do it all by yourself.

Having a record of each year will, in the end, prove to be a very valuable compilation of family memories and history.

If you can't remember what you had for breakfast 7 days ago, how will you remember what you and the family did 20 years ago?

You will cherish looking back over the years…but only if you put the effort in now to preserve the memories.


"Time marches on and the years blur together. Remember, time is no friend to the procrastinating family historian!" - Unknown

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