The popularity of sites such as ancestry.com is not really a new phenomenon. The founders took what used to be passed down through generations via mediums like family Bibles, and put it online using, for the most part, public records.
That's a great idea and it has really caught on. Congratulations to ancestry.com for that very successful business idea.
That is why I have kept a journal most of my life. From an early age, I have felt that there would be important aspects of my life and my family's lives that might be of great interest to those who come after me. I started journalling as a child with the typical things such as boys I had crushes on and how unfair my parents were to me as the oldest child (don't all oldest children feel that way?) and important events that occurred at school or in my community. But over the years, my stories have evolved into more in-depth things. I now write about things such as records of family births, deaths, marriages, divorces, our grandchildren's "firsts", last precious moments with loved ones who have passed on, my walk with God and many other things that I think generations after me might be interested in. These are the types of things you just cannot get from public record. Although, with Facebook and other social media, some families might! For my family, they will need to be able to find my many journals and my Bible to get this family history.
How do I ensure they can find the journals?
I would have loved the ability to open up journals of my ancestors and read, not just about facts and public records, but about what they were thinking, feeling, and what was going on in their community and family during their lives. I hope my family generations will want to do that as well. It will be like I'm able to talk with them personally about what was happening during my time and how much I love them, even if I never get to meet them here.
What about your family legacy?
You may not keep formal journals. But what is it you do keep? What is it that you would want your loved ones to know when you're gone? It could include anything from thoughts, prayers, poems, stories, videos and pictures; to final wishes, estate plans, and other legal or financial documents and records. A well-known financial guru, Dave Ramsey, writes about that aspect in his blog here that you may want to read. Whatever it is, don't wait until it's too late to start getting that together for your family and making it available to whomever you want.
And don't forget your digital legacy! That's more important now than ever. If you don't want your Facebook, email and other online accounts to live on well after you do, and accessible to entities that may mean harm, be sure to have a plan for those to be closed down when you go. You can use our free checklist, Managing your Digital Legacy, which can be downloaded and filled out from our website here to help with that.
Tweet: "With a little forethought you can leave a legacy for your family that is based on your real life, not just based on public record"