THE "5 W’s"

WHO-Of course, you will be mentioning others who have played a part in your life. but be specific. In the first or second reference give their whole names. "Aunt Jane" could be from any side of the family. You may even want to say, "my mother’s sister." If you are telling about your childhood and talk about a female child, you would use only her maiden name.

WHAT-You will do this superbly: what happened

WHEN- You may not know the actual day that the particular event occurred, but you should at least be able to "round off" the date to the the early ‘20s, mid-30s or late ‘40s, for instance. By dividing a decade into thirds like this, you can come within three to four years of the event, thus giving your relatives a notion of the time setting. A birthday, anniversary, death near that occasion or a child’s age may give you a clue.

WHERE- To talk about "the family farm" as though everyone knows where it is—or was—is a bad practice. Even if it still exists and all your grandchildren have been there. You should name the county and the state in deference to future generations. If you grew up in a small town, give the name of the state the first time you mention it. There are many Lexington's and Oxfords, for example. Tell you address, including house number. Although the dwelling may be gone, you descendents can pinpoint the proper setting.

WHY- Although this is the least necessary of the five W’s, it may be essential to certain stories. It’s background information which helps the tale make sense. It may be simple matter of explaining that Uncle John always took thriftiness as a major virtue because he grew up in Scotland. Or you may explain certain mores of that period, so that your descendants will understand why you were embarrassed


Keep in mind that your are doing this for posterity. Ask yourself what will someone 50 or 100 years from now want to know about me, my family and the times I lived in? What do I wish I knew about my grandparents and their daily lives? That is why the "what" is not enough. And you must add more.

"Recalling Your Memories on Paper, Tape or Video Tape" by Margaret G Bigger

ISBN 0-9640606-4-7 Library of Congress 96-84100

A. Borough Books, P.O. Box 15391, Charlotte, NC 28211