Thursday, April 14, 2011

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Week 15

Keep a Handwritten Journal

Letter Writing and Journaling is becoming a ‘lost art’.  In the age of email, texting, and chatting, the true art of writing a letter is slowly dying, along with the art of writing a diary or journal.

I am reminded of a speech that author David McCullough gave at the NGS Convention in Salt Lake City, last year.  He was speaking about his search for primary documentation regarding a person he was researching for a book.  He had looked EVERYWHERE, for documents and sources, turned over every leaf, in every obscure historical repository and could find anything.  Someone asked if he had checked the Library of Congress, well…uh….no, he hadn’t, why would he look there, they surely wouldn’t have anything, except several volumes of journals and personal papers written by his elusive subject.  Right there under his very nose, in the most obvious place, was exactly what he was looking for and he hadn’t looked.

The moral of the story:  If you want to be remembered as a famous historical figure 200 years from now, write a daily journal about your life and when you die, give it to the Library of Congress.  When someone goes searching for historical information 200 years from now, yours will be the only handwritten diary in the Library of Congress from 2011, since everyone else will have documented their lives on electronic blogs. 

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