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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Book Review: My Life & Times


    As my dad approaches his eighth decade he has become more interested family history and genealogy. But, like many people he doesn't know how to start writing, or recording, the stories he wants to share. My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories by Sunny Morton is the perfect gift for Dad's big 8-0.

    The hardbound journal is a handy 7x9-inch size in a 3-ring binder style. The format makes it easy to remove pages for easier writing or to add more pages printed out from the included CD-Rom. The first chapter even outlines what kind of paper you will need to match the book's paper stock.

    Each of the ten chapters begins with a thoughtful introduction and suggestions for recording your memories. Sunny's experience as a writer and genealogist shows in the book's organized approach to recording a family history. Chapters move logically from recording basic details like birth, family, occupation, residences, military service, to stories about early life, childhood, and adulthood.

    Writing prompts for information about specifics like "About My Mother" are spaced throughout the book, making it seem like less of a homework task than a fun and interesting journal. Sunny's comments on writing memoir and on memory will be especially helpful to non-genealogists who want to record special stories but need a little help and encouragement.

    Anyone who has attempted to write personal history knows that some subjects are especially difficult.  I think readers will appreciate Sunny's positive approach toward recording family history --

    You may choose not to include certain events or time periods in your life. You have a right to privacy; recording your life story is not a tell-all confessional! The flexible format of this book means you can share only what you want and omit certain pages or sections.

    Sunny not only gives the reader-writer permission to share selective stories, she offers carefully framed questions that give any writer considerable freedom to explore their memories.

    Parenting With My Partner: How did you feel when you learned you would be a parent? How did your partner feel?

    How did your daily lives change when you had children?

    My Life & Times is as much a journal for exploration as it is a journal to record personal history. Some pages have room for memorabilia as well as stories. The option to print more forms gives creative types room to add special sections, including pages that are included on the CD and not printed in the book.

    I think my dad will enjoy using this journal to record his past, although I do wish the font were slightly larger and darker to make it easier to read.

    Sunny Morton writes the Family Archivist column in Family Tree Magazine, as well as feature articles on various genealogical topics.

    My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories , by Sunny Morton (Family Tree Books, 2012)


    1. Gathering Your Family Stories
    2. Statistics About Me
    3. Stories About Early Family Life
    4. Stories from Childhood
    5. Stories from High School
    6. Stories from My Professional Life
    7. Storeis About a Family of My Own
    8. Reflections on My Personal Life & Values
    9. Preserving Your Memories
    10. Special Forms

    CD-only Pages

    • Adoption
    • Memories of My Child's Adoption
    • Me and My Child
    • Homeschooling
    • Summer Camp
    • Me and My Teenager
    • Travel Log
    • The End of Our Relaitonship
    • Solo Parenting
    • Unemployment

    WIN A FREE COPY of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories ;courtesy of Family Tree Books.

    All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment after the review or Like the review on the Facebook post (one entry per name, please). I will include names from both places and one name will be randomly selected to win the book. Your name will stay in the hopper from week to week, so you will have more chances to win in the weeks to follow. The winner will be announced the following week on Facebook and on The Family Curator so you can send me your name and address to receive the book.

    If you've read the featured book, please add your thoughts or other recommendations.



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    Reader Comments (6)

    Thanks for the review. This book may be just what I need to start capturing my mother's and aunts' stories about their lives.

    June 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

    Thank you for the review. I have been eyeing this book for a while. I will definitely consider buying it the next time I see it at our local bookstore.

    June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

    This sounds like a wonderful book! We all need a bit of jumpstart to get us going on our own histories.

    July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Lauritzen

    I've heard about Sunny's book. Thank you for providing more depth. It's one I'd love to have!

    July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Goodrum

    I am really glad that these books are being written to help me get organized. Thanks for sharing your review.

    July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam

    I have been doing family genealogy for more than 20years. What an exciting time I have had doing this. Most people can understand why someone would spend hours at a time perusing old books, microfilm or old documents until you can't straighten your neck or see clearly. This sounds like a wonderful book that will help me to bring better organization to the thousands of notes and documents I have accumulated. It will be something I can leave for future generations of our family to know where and who they came from.

    March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Morris

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