Recording Family History for Future Generations

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Recording Family History is importantI’ve been a ghostwriter for twenty years and love what I do. I get to take on many different characters, such as a slothful worker in a futuristic world, a husband and wife who battled cancer and won, a teenage rebel in communist Hungary, as well as dozens more. I also get to share important knowledge that was once only known to an elite few in the form of a how-to business book. However, recording family history is one of the most precious assignments. I am always honored when asked to do so.

Whoever the project, I’m always grateful for the opportunity to help my clients write their books. And I learn a lot through the process.

People sometimes ask what the most common request I get as a ghostwriter. Well, that would have to be hands down a memoir. People want me to write their life stories and adventures. Each one is so different, and each client has their own voice, message, and purpose for writing their book.

Zeroing in on the purpose

When I interview a potential client, one of my first tasks is to get their true motivation behind the book project. That’s important for a number of reasons.

For one thing, I want to help them achieve their goals. Honestly, my clients’ goals become mine as we form a writing team.

One of my favorite aspects about being a ghostwriter is that I get to become a family historian. Recording family history is like becoming a detective in a way. It requires a lot of research, intuition, and interviewing. It’s an honor to be allowed into each client’s inner circle so that I can record their stories for future generations—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Record your memories

Many of my clients have no intention of ever publishing their memoirs. One beautifully vibrant elderly woman recently told me, “It’s just too personal.” In her case, she had me write her stories simply to understand and record her own life. She didn’t want her lessons to be lost over time. She wanted her daughters to know who she was. After all, if no one recorded her life, all those thoughts and lessons learned would vanish. It’s a valid concern. I applaud anyone who takes the time to write down their words, thoughts, and ideas for their friends and family. Yes, it takes time, but it is well worth it.

The advantage of hiring a ghostwriter to record your family history is that should you decide to have it published, you can easily self-publish on Amazon.com. It will be ready to go. There’s no obligation to have the final book published, of course, but why not give yourself the option of sharing your story with others when the time is right?

Appointing your family historian

While hiring a ghostwriter has many advantages, I understand that not everyone can afford the fee. If you can’t, I recommend appointing someone in your family to be the historian. Once selected, encourage and help that person interview every family member as in-depth as possible.

One tip I can offer the family historian is to capture each person’s exact words. After all, everyone has a different way of expressing themselves. There’s no right or wrong here, just jot down any idioms they might use and make a note of their mannerisms.

Incident of a book: couple drinking coffeeBut whatever you do, don’t correct their grammar. You’re not their seventh-grade English teacher. If Grandpa says, “Ain’t,” keep it that way. It’s real and it’s him. Recording family history with integrity is vital for any successful book. Plus it will allow future generations a better sense of who your grandfather was. Note down exactly what each person says as they say it and use those words.

Through this journey, you will likely discover that your elders have lived through some amazing times. Perhaps your great-uncle fought in a war. Or your grandmother escaped a brutal dictator. Maybe various family members traveled to a variety of exotic locations you never knew about. Whatever the case, you’re bound to learn a lot about your family.

So, when should you start?

Now!

I mean it!

Time isn’t always on your side, especially if members of your family are getting on in years. So now is the perfect opportunity to talk with them. Go for it! And have fun!

If you need help, feel free to contact me. I love helping families record their history! Check out a few of my testimonials.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

My Ghostwriting Process

How Can I Help?

    8 Comments

    1. Barbara

      I am one of 14 children and would love to document our history or even write a book about it. I’m wondering what this would cost. Thanks

      Reply
      • Laura Sherman

        I absolutely love books like this. I just wrote to you and look forward to your reply! Thanks for reaching out to me!

        Reply
    2. Samantha Lazarus

      Hello there! I was wondering if you would be interested on making a book about my mother’s life? She’s been asking and wanting one recently. She doesn’t want it to be published but to be kept for the family as a piece of our history. If you are interested, I would like to talk to you more about the details in private.

      Reply
      • Laura Sherman

        I am definitely interested! I wrote to you privately and look forward to hearing back. Thank you for reaching out!

        Reply
    3. Jacqueline

      Hello. I would like to write my story. I could literally see it in a movie. It would definitely include my interesting family history on both sides. I am only 50 years old but so close to past history of this country. My fathers mother was born into slavery and married a Native American, had 13 children and while in the midst of delivering the 14th one, my grandmother and infant died during child birth. my mothers side migrated from Panama after my grandfather left my grandmother pregnant with their 3rd child for a teenage bride, leaving my grandmother mother behind. The story is so very interesting. I would like the book to be focused though around my life while demonstrating how the life choices of the previous generations effected the family ties.

      Reply
      • Laura Sherman

        Hi! Thank you so much for writing! I wrote you privately and look forward to hearing back!

        Reply
    4. Roger Spence

      I am 77, 4 children and 7 grand children (more to come?) and want to document my much varied life: rags to “riches”, 4 wives, world wide travel and many experiences. Don’t plan to publish. Live in Riverside, CA. Are you interested in taking this on?

      Reply
      • Laura Sherman

        Dear Roger,

        Hi! I would LOVE to help you! I’ll email you privately to find out more about your project. What a great idea!

        Reply

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