|Photo courtesy of https://www.gsa.gov/|
This is a companion to the previous blog, "The Do-it-Yourself Obituary." As mentioned in that post, this is an instrument for setting down a person's life information. I adapted it from the source cited below for use with my memoir writing classes, but have used it a number of times when helping friends write their or their loved ones' obituaries. Either way, whether writing your memoirs or family stories, or obituaries, my hope is that you'll find it useful.
~ xoA ~
Gathering Personal Information
Given name: first, middle, last; if you were named after someone, who? any story about how you got your name or who named you.
Birth: place, date, parents’ full names, including your mother’s maiden name; any unusual circumstances surrounding your birth, getting to the hospital; where delivered and by whom
Siblings: their names, birth dates, marriages, deaths, and names of children. Reminders of stories about your siblings (i.e. the time Susie kissed the hot pie; the time Jerry broke his arm)
Education: grade school, high school, college(s), other institutions or specialized training
Marriages, deaths, divorces: include dates, names, and places
Children: full names and nicknames, dates, where born, marriages and names of their spouses(s) and children. Reminders of stories about your children (i.e. Allie’s first bath; when we brought home the baby brother)
Work history and positions held: Make a timeline of all the places you worked
Military experience: what branch, rank, job, where served
Major geographic moves: List dates and places you lived over the years
Unusual experiences: your personal involvement in anything out of the ordinary, could be life-threatening or harrowing in some way (i.e. robbery victim, accident, caught in a hurricane) or could be something wonderful (i.e. winning a contest, appearing on a TV show)
Organizations you belonged to and positions held: clubs, service organizations, professional organizations
Religious affiliation, membership, activities, and organizations
Volunteer activities throughout life
Travel, special vacations
Awards, honors, professional accomplishments
Famous people in your life
Close friends: childhood, college/early work days, in organizations, later years
Life achievements: official and unofficial
Special skills, interests, hobbies
Foreign language skills
Main character traits: Take this one seriously, and do not be bashful. Think about the legacy you would like to leave behind. List your character traits and give examples
Life challenges: What did you have to overcome, and how did you do it? How you dealt with adversity can be a model for someone else.
Banners and bandwagons: What values did you hold high?
Add any other information you’d like to this list
Adapted from Katie Funk Wiebe in How to Write Your Personal or Family History, 2009.