I've been writing (slowly, one anecdote at a time) my memories of my youth, and the stories that I remember being passed down from parents, grandparents, and other long-lived people.
I was fortunate - in my mother's family, old age was the default - my grandparents were born in the 19th century, and passed on stories of their youth. My father's family was equally long-lived, but not as talkative (WV vs. Irish-descent). Still, I have an aunt by marriage whose passion is genealogy, and who had compiled a bookshelf of clippings, copies of newspaper stories, and charts of the family, back to pre-Colonial times.
If you aren't on Ancestry.com (and, I don't blame you - the price has risen shockingly!), you might want to use a word processing program or app - Google Docs is easy to use, and can be shared with others easily - to write down your memories - personal, or what has been told to you.
If you'd rather, set up a videocam, and record that process orally. Links to some ideas about what to write down/talk about below.
- Start with these ideas
- The NY Times has a good story about the process.
- Tired of the clutter, but don't want to lose the memories? This link might help you.
- Some visual ways to share the memories. One of the best things my brother and sister did as to set up an online repository of family photos. By sharing the work of scanning and uploading, it has taken an impossibly large job and made it doable. I've added context to many of them, which I'm uniquely positioned to do, as the eldest living sibling.
- Helping the confused be a participant, as they are able.
- If you live in or travel to AZ, these workshops might be useful. Otherwise, check out the link for ideas about sparking memories.
- Some of these ideas are more about genealogy, not strictly family memories. But, still useful.
- How to make the family history something the family would WANT to read.
- Have you gotten excited about this idea? Do you want to go beyond just writing down a few funny/interesting stories? Check this out for the next step. Also, here is more advice about what to do.
- A Free College Course on just this topic. All online and archived for easy retrieval.