The Memorygrabber

The MemoryGrabber

An E-Book That Turns a Life Lived into Legacy.
By Michael R. Boyter


The Memorygrabber

FREE INFORMATION Join my newsletter mailing list now and get frequent life story tips and information as well as reviews of the latest products designed to make completing your family history so much easier.

Contact Michael at I’m interested in your comments and feedback

All product names and/or logos are copyrights and trademarks of their respective owners. None of these owners has authorized, sponsored, endorsed, or approved this publication. The author and publisher, Boyter Information Products, have made their best effort to produce a high quality, informative and helpful book. But they make no representation or warranties of any kind with regard to the completeness or accuracy of the contents of the book. They accept no liability of any kind for any losses or damages caused or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, from using the information contained in this book. Some links and information presented in this book may change. Memorygrabber is 1999-2004 Boyter Information Products All Right Reserved Worldwide. MANUSCRIPT NOTES: This copy is revision three, completed January 2004

No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and commercial printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Printing for personal use is of course granted and recommended! 4655 E. Crowberry Ave Wasilla, Alaska 99654


The Memorygrabber

Memorygrabber Table of Contents
Introduction 6 Of Journals and Legacies 7 This Is Who I Am 8 Getting Started 11 Digital Video is Here! 19 Background Information 27 Early Childhood 32 My Early School Years 34 My Growing Up Years 36 Teenage Years 40 High School Years 43 My Prom 46 Class Reunions 47 College & Advanced Training 48 My Parents 50 Brothers & Sisters 54 Grandparents 57 Military Service 59 Dating 62 My Spouse and Our Marriage 65 Our Children 70 Sons and Daughters-In-Law 73 Our Grandchildren 74 Advice for Grandchildren and Future Generations 75 Work History and Career 77 My Own Business 79 Religion 80 Travels and Vacations 81

The Memorygrabber
Memorygrabber Lists! 83 List Your Favorite 84 Family “Awards” 86 Life Inventory Lists 106 Social Circles 112 Memorygrabber Activities 113

Activity #1 Share your old photographs 113 Activity # 2 Progressive Family E-mail 114 Activity #3 Drawing from your past 115 Activity #4 A Project Never Ending 116 Activity #5 Reconnect with your Cousins 117 Activity #6 Four Generation Pedigree Charts 118 Activity #7 Family Group Sheets 119 Activity #8 What Does your Bookshelf Say About You? 119 Activity #9 Play Family Trivia 120 Activity #10 Build a Timeline Chart 121 Activity #11 Video Tape Everyday Life 122 Activity #12 Pass on Stories from your Childhood 123 Activity #13 Wedding Reception Reminiscing 124 Activity #14 Memories of Those That Have Passed On 125 Values and Beliefs 126 Politics & Social Issues 129 Easy Journal 131 That Which I Fear 134 My Medical History 136 History and Nostalgia Links 139 Friends & Associates 142 Family Involvement 144 Miscellaneous 145 A Treasure Hunt! 146 Resources 148

The Memorygrabber

I’d like to thank my wife Sheri for her continued support and patience with me while I’ve put this book together. Without it, Memorygrabber would not be. She’s always there to listen when I need a “sounding board” and is the voice of reason when I grow impatient. I can always count on her to tell me what I need to hear, which is not always, necessarily, what I want to hear. I’d also like my parents, Clinton and Betty, for their support and continued belief in all that I do.

This book is dedicated to the eternal memories of: Velva Ledbetter (1919-1985), my maternal grandmother and Clinton Carl Boyter (1919-2000), my paternal grandfather


The Memorygrabber

First, I want to thank you for purchasing Memorygrabber The concept of Memorygrabber™ has been in my head for a very long time. The concept was and still is to provide an easy and fun way for the average person to tell about their life, thus enriching not only their life, but also those of their loved ones and the lives of their descendants. Hand a person a blank writing tablet and tell them to begin writing their life story. Most would find it difficult, throwing out the typical vole of reasons that it couldn’t be done: a. I don’t write that well b. I can’t think of what to write c. My life has been pretty boring and bland d. I don’t know where to start e. I don’t have that much time to work on it

Well, Memorygrabber is the exact opposite of a blanket writing tablet. I made it that way deliberately and purposely. Memorygrabber is all encompassing and is a massive compilation of thoughtprovoking questions, self-revealing lists to create and other innovative ways to help one preserve their life story without… a. b. c. d. Being an overly great writer Having to think of things to write about on your own The false and crippling belief that your life isn’t exciting enough to write about The hassle of trying to outline and organize your life (it’s already done for you). e. Spending a lifetime working on it


The Memorygrabber

Of Journals and Legacies
Since I was eleven years old I have put personal history writing high on my priority list. It may not have always been the top item on that list, but it has always been on the list. It was when I was eleven, that my parents gave me a plain-looking, hardcover, brown journal for Christmas. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t flashy and it had nothing written in it at all, but I was thrilled to get it! I am very thankful to them for it. I really don’t remember if I asked for a journal or if I even knew what one was. I took to it immediately though. I stuck with it through my teenage years. One of the most satisfying experiences in life is to look back and recall your happy experiences, the relationships you’ve experienced and your most significant accomplishments. Why keep personal histories and write a life stories or autobiographies? The answer would probably vary by the number of people you ask. For me, I always write with some sense of an audience made up of future generations. This, I suppose, may seem egotistical to some. My descendants may have no desire or interest in my writings; who’s to say? But if they’re like me, they will read it with great interest. I have been the beneficiary of several journals written by some of my ancestor. I have always loved reading and learning about those from whom I descended and that I am a part of. A personal history becomes a family treasure than enables children to emulate the virtues and personal characteristics of their forebears. There is nothing more you can do to turn your children’s hearts closer to yours than by keeping a journal and writing your personal history. Your children will ultimately love to know about your successes, your failures and your peculiarities. It will tell them a lot about themselves, too!


The Memorygrabber

This Is Who I Am
Every last one of us has a story to tell as well as a sacred duty to preserve and pass it on. This is in addition to keeping alive the stories and memories of those who have gone before us. Upon completing Memorygrabber™, you will have a written or recorded product that clearly states “This is who I am”. It’s an all encompassing “portrait” of your life. “This is what I’ve done with my life so far…” “This is what I’m doing now…” “This is what I believe and think about things in life…” These are world events that shaped my life and generation…” “This is what I plan and hope to do in the future…” “These are people (family and friends) that have and still do have impact in my life…and so on!”

There are some who, when first taking a look at all the many questions, lists and activities that are contained in Memorygrabber™, ask “What does all that have to do with my life story?” Some of the questions, lists and activities contained in Memorygrabber may be outside the thinking of what an autobiography and life story really is. The majority of the questions in Memorygrabber™ deal with one’s past but many of them deal with who you presently are. Remember, starting tomorrow, today is already part of the past! Additionally, there are questions that deal with the future and even a few that deal with hypothetical “What would you do…” type of questions The answers to these kinds of questions go a very long way in conveying the truly unique person that you are. A hundred years from now, your great-great grandchild will definitively know who you were, how you thought and what you hoped for. They will know what you accomplished in your lifetime, what you believed, thought, valued, and dreamed for.

The Memorygrabber

Emphasis is also placed on you describing the other members of your family. If your life story was a painted portrait on a piece of canvas, you’d be the subject or object of the picture and all surrounding members of your family would be the background. A painting needs a background to make it’s “story” complete! There is another reason for the emphasis on family members in Memorygrabber.

“Brother Helping Brother”
Think of your siblings! Years from now you are not the only one that will have a posterity wishing that they had answers about and knew more about those who came before them. If your brother (or sister), for example, never takes the time to write about his life, then what his posterity ever knows about him may solely rest on the little bit that you write about him in your life story. I wish to relate to you something that happened to me about eight years ago. It loosely illustrates my point above.

By happenstance, I came across another individual with my same last name of Boyter. Boyter isn’t that common of a name, as you know. Up to that point in my life, I had never crossed paths with a Boyter and not known immediately how we were related. We sat and talked for the better part of a day, swapping family stories and looking at family photographs. It was amazing how much he looked like my grandfather. In an attempt to figure out how the two of us were related, he told a story of his ancestor James Boyter who, in the 1870s, traversed the Atlantic Ocean from Scotland with his older brother Alexander. One or both of the brothers had supposedly endangered themselves by “illegally” hunting rabbits on another’s property. The story goes on that these two, to escape a certain jail sentence, fled to the United States. They eventually brought their mother to the U.S. and became quite the homebuilders using mainly masonry skills that they had acquired along the way. They became very prominent members in


The Memorygrabber
the town they settled in.

I sat and listened as this person told me this story. I kept silent, but held a smile inside as he told it. I had heard this same story told countless times at family gatherings since childhood. Now here was a complete “stranger” telling me the same exact story. It was a bizarre feeling! I immediately knew exactly how we were related! He was excited when I told him that I was a descendant of the older brother Alexander; my great-great grandfather Boyter. If that story had been lost to my family over the years, I would have regained a knowledge of my great-great grandfather Boyter that day thanks to the diligence of life story preservation of the long line of descendants of James Boyter (his ancestor).

And this was my point from the beginning of one sibling helping another’s posterity. It happens. Again, this is a loosely comparable example, because in this case both sides of the family held on and perpetuated the story down through the years. But, it is for this reason, that I placed such a strong importance on relatives that have surrounded you during your life. Your “Aunt Mary’s” posterity may know only that you thought Mary was “the funniest” and “the best gardener” in the family because you answered those two questions in the Family Awards section of this book with her name. Just knowing those two simple things about her can make all the difference in the world to her relations years from now. All because you recorded it in your autobiography!


The Memorygrabber

Getting Started
Memorygrabber is designed to be easy to use. One of the hardest parts of writing one’s life story is just getting started. This book is set up to make you want to jump right in and get going!

Memorygrabber™ can be used in several manners: You can use it to: 1. Write your own life story. 2. Write the life story of another. 3. Record your life story on audio or video tape. 4. Conduct personal history interview of others on tape. 5. Work on it with a parent to preserve stories from their life. 6. Work on it with a grandparent to preserve their life story. 7. Create meaningful scrapbook page layout ideas

Regardless of how you use this book…

…print out a copy of Memorygrabber™. Whether you plan to write, conduct a family history interview or be interviewed, it is important to prepare. From the beginning, get a large, sturdy three-ring binder. Place your printed pages into this binder. This will keep your life story project organized and prevent the loss of completed pages. By doing so, you are creating a physical workbook that, if properly preserved, can be passed down or found by family if you are not actually able to pass it down personally due to sudden accident or illness. A printed copy will serve as either a “script” for a personal history interview or a workbook and guide for a written version of your life story.


The Memorygrabber

Memorygrabber’s™ questions are in chronological order, but don’t let this prevent you from beginning anywhere you choose! This, the newest revision of Memorygrabber™, gives a little more space between questions, but, as you can see, there still isn’t room to write full length stories/memories below each question. The proper course of action is to provide (on the printed page) short informative answers to most if not all the questions and lists. Along with the short answers, be sure to include notes, dates and other information that you want to include in your relating that particular memory. Important Note! If all you ever did was give short answers to the questions and write in a list of single words to complete the lists included in Memorygrabber™, how great would be the joy of your descendants some day. Your life story can be as fancy as you want it, but never ever decide not to preserve your life story because you don’t believe you can make it look and sound perfect. Scribbled notes on a piece of wrinkled paper is much better than NOTHING!

This is where you need to make a decision. If you are writing (opting not to record your life story on tape) your life story, then go back through your short answers. Answer these questions now at your desired length. To write these, insert several blank sheets of paper directly behind the particular Memorygrabber™ question page. This keeps your memories in some sense of order and gives you plenty of room to expound on them later. EXAMPLE: In the “My Growing Up Years” section of this book, one memory prompt asks you to “Tell about going to grandma’s house”. If it was my first time through Memorygrabber™, I’d write short, brief answers that would help me not to forget stories that I may decide to write about at greater length later. Here are my answers to the question Prepared us big southern breakfasts First person that I knew to have Cable TV Always worried about our safety at school


The Memorygrabber

Always had a big dog for protection

Now, at a later point I’d come back through these short answers. I’d insert an additional sheet of paper right behind the one with the “Grandma’s House” question.

Be sure that your short answers are complete answers! By this I mean that you must make sure that the short answers can stand on their own. If I never wrote or recorded more about any of the 5 “short answers” that I listed about going to my grandma’s house, the future readers (children and grandchildren) would still know her a little bit better. …And isn’t that the purpose of preserving biographies and autobiographies after all?

Continuing with the example, on that new sheet of paper I may write the following:

“Prepared Us Big Southern Breakfasts”
“Grandma was from Kentucky and she was an excellent at cooking southern dishes. I fondly remember waking up at her house to the comforting smells of breakfast. A typical breakfast at her house included bacon/salt pork, homemade biscuits, homemade gravy, fried apples, grits and many other breakfast items that would literally fill the entire table up! I remember feeling a bit guilty knowing how early she’d get up in the morning to make such an elaborate breakfast for my brother and I. My mom always said that I really needn’t feel like that because “going to all that fuss” was something that made grandma very happy. When she had company over, especially grandkids, she loved it and wanted to go all out and spoil us. Grandma lived alone every since grandpa died a few years before I was born. He was a coal miner and died from black lung disease. How ironic. I’m told that he never smoked a day in his life, but died almost as if he had.


The Memorygrabber

Grandma passed away 17 years ago. Looking back now as an adult, I realize how lonely she must have been without grandpa. I’m very happy for all those special times that I had to spend at her house and, even though I felt a little guilty then for her working so hard on those early morning breakfasts, I know now it was something that made her happy and hopefully not quite so lonely.”

…and in continuing the example, I’d continue on talking a little bit about each of the short answers that I wrote under the memory prompt “Tell about going to grandma’s house”. All in all, it took only a few minutes to write the above memory. I didn’t have to think very long on it. Do you know why…? …Because I lived it. This is exactly why writing about your own life is not really difficult at all…contrary to popular belief. As I wrote the memory above, I was really just “rambling and writing”. Include as much information as you can. You will notice that I mentioned my grandpa along with how he died and one of the few things that I have always heard the family relate about him (not smoking but dying from black lung disease). I could have left that out but why not include it here in my life story, as it popped into my head. It relates to grandma and I may never think to write it anywhere else. If you are an English teacher, perhaps you will find sentence structure errors, but I respectively don’t really care about that. Caring about these things, to an extreme, is what causes people to not write about their lives in the first place.

I have a 30 page journal from John Murdock, born in the 1790s. He is my great grandfather, six generations back. He wrote pretty well, but there are errors in what he wrote. Have I ever thought less of him because of it? No, never! Do I ever think how extremely lucky I am to have such an accounting of his life (spelling errors or not)? Yes, yes, yes! Your objective should be to put to paper as much of your life story as you possibly can recall and make sure that these memories and family stories are passed down to your children.


The Memorygrabber

As long as your objectives are met and the life story conveyed, then you should feel satisfied. It’s okay if it’s not fancy or eloquently written. Everyone needs to remember that and not let it, or any other excuses, prevent you from marching on!

Treat the list making sections in the same way. Write short answers but many of the responses you put on your lists will deserve an interesting explanation. For example, on your “List of Favorites” you might answer “the Fall” as your favorite season. Go back through and elaborate, on an inserted blank piece of paper, if needed, why Fall is your favorite season of the year. The “why” is just as important as the answer itself. The “why” is the interesting part that your descendants will want to know.

Memorygrabber™ is Your Guide
Whether you write or record the life story, never feel that you have to use every last questions, list or activity that is contained in this book. Especially if you are recording on tape the life story of a parent or grandparent, go through and put a mark beside the questions that you like best. Identify the parts that you feel are the most appropriate and relative.

Involve Your Parents and/or Grandparents All of us grew up listening to the family stories that our parents and grandparents would tell. These stories always inspired and delighted us and, at some point, we realized that these stories had to stay with the family down through the generations. We swore that we’d some day get them written down. Memorygrabber™ will make this easier to do. If you are fortunate enough to still have living parents and/or grandparents, don’t hesitate to get a copy of Memorygrabber™ in front them. It will enrich the remainder of your life and will mean so much to your children and your children’s children.


The Memorygrabber

Recording Life Stories on Tape
This revised version of Memorygrabber™ has placed an added emphasis on preserving life stories through recorded means. This is sometimes referred to as oral history. It is highly recommended, but of course optional, to record your life story on audio or video tape. With the wide availability of recording devices in today’s world, it would be a shame not to leave a recorded record of your life; allowing your family to hear your stories told in your own voice. A price could not be placed on such a family treasure…yes, despite how uninteresting you think your life has been, I’m referring to your life story.

Should You Use Audio or Video?
Ultimately, I believe a videotaped interview of one’s life is the best… …but don’t discount the advantages of using an audio taped recording. Price and Availability - Tape recorders are cheaper and more available than video cameras. Stage Fright - Some can be very self-conscious in front of a video camera. If the individual being interviewed is petrified each time the infamous “red light” comes on, then the answers to the interview questions will be effected in a negative way.

Playback and Transcribing Play back will be much easier. A tape can be listened to in any car cassette player or used in a hand-held Walkman. You can even have it playing while making dinner or while taking a walk. A video recording, in contrast, requires one to sit still in one spot in front of the TV/VCR. After an interview, the task of transcribing the interview to paper will be much

The Memorygrabber
easier with a tape recorder.

If you’ve ever transcribed anything before, you know, all too well, how many times you have to start and stop the tape. Stopping, starting and rewinding a VCR is a much more difficult job. Visual Aspects – An audio recording requires it’s listeners to use their imaginations. It will be difficult for a listener to imagine an elderly person running and jumping and being a mischievous kid when they see an elderly individual on the screen. Audio-taped life stories will come alive in the imaginations of those who listen. Except for when the interviewee is using “props” such as old photograph albums or other tangible items, the image on the videotape will not change much.

TAPE RECORDERS…the essentials Here is a list of features that your tape recorder should have: A Pause Button – No matter how much you plan and try to avoid them, interruptions will happen. When they do, a pause button is a great feature to have. A pause button is also very handy when more time is needed to think questions over or when the teller needs to cough or clear their throat. A Microphone Input Jack – Built-in microphones are usually cheap and of lesser quality. They tend to pick up every noise in the room. Other times, the voice you record may be so faint that it can hardly be heard; a tragic thing to find out after hours of interviewing. The closer the microphone is to the source, the better the quality of the recording. An external microphone (one attached to your shirt or collar) connected with a cord to the tape recorder is best. These can be found at local electronic stores starting at around $30(U.S.). The Tape - When you shop for an audio tape, you will be faced with a myriad of brands, lengths and types. Consult your tape recorder’s instruction manual for the recommended types. High-Priced metal tapes are great, but they are not really needed for voice recordings; they are geared more toward music.


The Memorygrabber

Buy 60 minutes tapes instead of the 90 minute variety. Manufacturers make the tape in a 90 minute cassette thinner to ensure that it will all fit into the plastic casing. Thinner tape means more broken, tangled and stretched out tapes. Read on the label and make sure that the tape is at least 1 mil (One thousandth inch) This increases the durability of the tape and will prevent the audio bleed-through effect. The bleed-through effect is when audio data is transferred to another layer, causing garbled voices. This will occur when the tape sits, unused for a length of time. Buy cassette tapes that screw together instead of the ones that are only glued together. If something happens, and you need to open the casing to fix it, you’ll be very happy that you bought the kind that screw together. Comments and Additional Notes:


The Memorygrabber

Recording to Video Tape
You should strongly consider video taping all life story interviews. A videotaped interview captures the whole person. It reveals body movement and hand gestures. These are things that really add to the strength of a story. With the advances in desktop video editing, I recommend that you give video very serious consideration. If you are the subject of the interview, don’t let fear of the camera stop you. If the subject of the interview is someone else, do your best to provide them the confidence and assurance that they need. Remind them that this is for their posterity. Even if you know nothing about video editing right now, chances are you will in the very near future.

Digital Video
Digital video cameras are becoming more and more prevalent and they cost no more than the average video camera did a few years ago. Video shot with a digital video camera can be loaded to and edited on your computer. The programs to do this editing are already widely available at reasonable prices. Here are two examples of this kind of software. Check them out! It’s exciting. VideoWave DVD Movie Factory:

These programs allow one to compile together: Still Photographs (taken with your regular camera) Home Video footage Narraration


The Memorygrabber
Music and more…! The possibilities are nearly endless.

With such computer software families can now: Sort through all those thousands of pictures they’ve taken over the years Go back through the near “endless” home videos they’ve shot but haven’t seen for a very long time Select their favorite songs and music…and Record (narrate) their (life/family) stories (This is what Memorygrabber helps you with) on video tape….and …Produce their own family DVDs, VHS tapes or Internet ready video!

The videotaped interview that Memorygrabber™ starts you on, can be the basis of this future family production. Here’s an example of the possibilities that video editing software brings: Imagine, while quiet music plays in the background, grandma tells (during her video taped Memorygrabber interview perhaps) about holding her first grandchild for the very first time. Computer software will allow you to capture (separate it from the video tape) the audio portion of the (interview) videotape, of grandma talking. At the same time, old home video of grandma holding and rocking that grandchild can be inserted into the new video project. Alternating back and forth between video of a taped life story interview and old video footage will make for a very beautiful production…all done from your computer! Imagine, putting together a video highlighting the life of a parent, grandparent or yourself. It could be made similar in style to the popular A&E’s Biography show. Memorygrabber™ doesn’t provide detailed “how to” information in the area of video editing at this time. This is a topic that could be the subject of an entire book itself. But preserving the stories (through recordings or written means) is the first step of any life story video compilation.


The Memorygrabber

Getting Started with a Video-Taped Interview
The costs of hiring a videographer is still quite steep, and the availability of home video recorders is great. For this reason, the use of home video cameras will be the focus of this e-book. If you are the one that will be conducting the interview, but you aren’t that familiar with using a video camera, seek out another family member that can be available to tape the interview. Having to mess with technical things before and during an interview will cause the whole interview process to suffer. These kinds of things can lead to anger, frustration and hostility. Having another family member available to run the video camera will go along way in making the camera “invisible”, as it should be. It will allow you, the interviewer, to concentrate entirely on the interview. Benefits of having a third person run the camera are: They can ensure the camera is always functioning correctly and that an interview isn’t lost due to any technical glitches. (The worse thing that can happen is to complete a stretch of the interview and realize that it didn’t get recorded).

A dedicated camera operator can concern him or herself with what is actually going on the tape. Is the camera angle right? Does it need to be changed? How well is the lighting on the interviewees face? etc.


Ensure that you know how to run the equipment or get a competent family member to run the camera during the interview. Buy only name brand, high-quality video tapes. The results will be noticeable and remember, this is a family heirloom. It needs to last a very long time. Verify that the colors are accurate. Adjust the white balance before you begin. Most newer cameras have an accurate automatic white balance built-in.


The Memorygrabber

Using the time and date feature is a great idea but only use it at the beginning of each tape and then sparingly after that. Use the power cord instead of relying on battery power for the camera. Don’t take the chance of having the video camera quitting just as your dad is the middle of one of his childhood stories. Invest in a tripod. Many of us have a video camera but few of us own a tripod. A tripod will go a long way in adding a touch a professionalism to and will keep the interview from appearing as if it was recorded in the middle of an earthquake. Take special precautions when it comes to light sources. Two separate light sources of the same strength work best. If shooting near a window, never put the individual being interviewed in front of it. The camera will read the bright light source and reduce the light allowed in; resulting in the individual appearing as a dark silhouette. Change the camera angle from time to time. Multiple camera angles will keep the attention of the future viewers of the tape. At a convenient place in the interview say “cut”, move the camera and resume the interview. The word cut can always be edited out. Don’t forget to pan (move from side to side) the camera occasionally during the interview process. This will also keep the attention of an audience and will enrich the overall outcome of the tape. When grandma tells about the grandfather clock that was handed down to her, by her parents, a panned shot of the actual clock that is sitting nearby in the living room will be a great bonus! Be careful not to pan too quickly. This may cause the picture to blur. Alternate the content of your shots! Alternate between head shots (camera frames the head only) and shots that shoot from the chest up. Add to this an occasional wide angle shot which includes the whole body. Changes in screen content are best made while the camera is in it’s standby mode. This can also be accomplished by making the change at convenient breaks in the interview by saying “cut” or by the occasional use of the zoom. The zoom feature should be used sparingly and slowly when it is used. Zoom action should be almost undetectable by viewers, if done correctly. Otherwise it becomes a distraction.

Backgrounds! Avoid backgrounds that are real dark, light or busy. Following this advice will ensure a better picture and less unneeded distractions.

Use a lapel microphone and plug it right into your camera. This will make a world of difference in the quality of sound. When plugged in, the built-in microphone will pick up the voice better ande cut out, to a large extent, all the

The Memorygrabber

background noise. Lapel (clip on) microphones are available in the $30 range and higher. If you must use the built-in camcorder microphone, it is suggested that the camera not be placed more than 3-5 feet from the person speaking. This will cut down much of the distracting background noise in the room. Label your tape immediately and punch out the small tab on the top edge of the tape to prevent someone from accidentally recording over the tape. This tip is so important, perhaps I should have put this at the top of this list. If you’ve ever spent hours looking through unlabeled tapes for something you wanted then you understand the importance of this advice. Also, if you’ve accidentally taped over a family home video because it wasn’t labeled or didn’t have the save tab punched out, then you know the devastating feeling of losing priceless video footage. I once nearly taped over the birth of one of our children. Before I realized that I actually had not taped over it, I couldn’t begin to explain how terrible I felt! Don’t let this happen to you. Label and punch out the tabs on your videotapes immediately! Make duplicate copies of your video from the master (original) tape. The quality will be much better. If you have the means, I highly recommend that you put your tape on a CD and keep it in a safe deposit box. Fires and floods have no sympathy!

Written by Bob Brooke of

Oral histories are only as successful as the interviews it takes to make them. In normal conversation, both people talk. Ideas are exchanged. Each person contributes information. The talk flows in unpredictable ways. But interviews are different. In an interview, one person has a goal-to obtain information from another person. The interviewer wants the interviewee to feel comfortable, yet direct the conversation to certain points. Unlike in a conversation, the interviewer may have to lead the interviewee back to back to the main point-without hurting his or her feelings. This can be difficult, but practice helps develop good

The Memorygrabber

interviewing skills. These tips will help: 1. Before interviewing anyone, give advance warning. Interviewers should explain what they want to do, why they want to do it, and why a person is important to them and their research. 2. An interviewer should be prepared before the interview by finding out about a relative. Where does this person fit into the family? What documents might he or she have? What other genealogical items might this person have? Whom did this person meet that no one else knew, or whom might he or she remember best? Where did this person live? As much information as possible should be gathered ahead of time about this person's relationship to everyone in the family. 3. Interviewing requires structure, so questions should be thought out beforehand. List questions on a sheet of paper, organized by subject. An easy way is to organize chronologically beginning with the early years. 4. Summarize what's already known so that the interviewee can verify the facts. Then ask for more detail. 5. Remember, ask open-ended questions. "What do you remember most about your first apartment?" or "Tell me about your relationship with your sisters" may yield something unexpected and wonderful. 6. Use a tape recorder but don't depend on it solely. A small recorder usually doesn't disturb anyone, and it catches every bit of information, including the way interviewees sound and exactly how they answer questions. However, tape recorders have a way of stopping just when there's important information-without any sign to the interviewer. So a backup notebook is a necessity. 7. During the interview, write down names and dates, and double-check them with the interviewee. Facts are important, but the most important information interviewees offer are their stories. Try to capture not only the way they talk but their colorful expressions. 8. Begin with easy, friendly questions. Leave the more difficult or emotional material for later in the interview, after trust has been established. If things aren't going well, an interviewer should save difficult questions for another time. 9. Also, begin with questions about the interviewee. Get some background information about him or her. And when asking for dates, relate them to the interview. 10. Bring family photographs to the interview and use them during it. Look for photos, artwork, or documents that will help jog the

The Memorygrabber

interviewee's memory. Ask the interviewee to describe what's going on. "Do you remember when this was taken? Who are the people? What was the occasion? Who do you think took the picture?" 11. Don't be afraid of silence. Silence is an important part of interviewing, and it can sometimes lead to very interesting results. Because people find silence uncomfortable, they often try to fill it if the interviewer doesn't, and, in doing so, they may say something that they might not have otherwise. 12. Allow interviewees time to ponder their thoughts. Asking interviewees to think back on things they may not have considered in years is a challenge. Calling up these memories may spark other thoughts, too. 13. Be ready to ask the same question in different ways. People don't know how much they know, and rephrasing a question can give more information. 14. Ask to see any family treasures belonging to the interviewee. When interviewees bring out an heirloom, they should be asked to describe it. What is it? How was it used? Who made it? Who gave it to them? Ask if there are any stories connected with it, or any documents. 15. Be sensitive. Sometimes people become emotional talking about the past. They may remember relative’s long dead, or forgotten tragedies. If an interviewee is upset by a memory, the interviewer should either remain silent, or quietly ask, "Is it all right if we talk some more about this? Or would you rather not?" People frequently feel better when they talk about sad things. Give the interviewee the choice of whether or not to go on. 16. Try not to interrupt. If the interviewee strays from the subject, let him or her finish the story and then bring them back on track. Not interrupting makes the conversation friendlier, and may lead to something unexpected. End
To learn more about Bob Brooke and read more of his work, visit his Web site at: Used with author’s permission


The Memorygrabber

A House That I Once Knew
by Leo VanMeer © Copyright 2001 Leo VanMeer Used with permission
Let in our willing feet, With everything in place as it should And everything trim and neat. I see it in mellowed reflection Until years have changed it to be A house with a memory; it’s more than a house It once was home to me. I’d give so much to live again In that house when it was young. Then it knew our laughter and tears, With its memory only begun. I was unwise to have left it, I know. All I got for my pains Was a heap of things I thought worthwhile And desire to be back again. It might be made home again, who knows? I watch the moonlight slant through a tree, And know that old house was more than a house. It once was home to me.

There are mars on the doors and walls.
Its rooms are empty and wide. Here and there is a broken pane Where the night wind creeps inside. The front porch has fallen to ruin With vines in possession there. A shed is tumbled and strewn And rubbish is everywhere. Somehow it softens in moonlight And my fancy wanders free. That old house is more than a house. It once was home to me. I can see a place by the window Where firelight once played inside. I can picture the porch as it used to be And grounds so clean and wide. Doors with well-oiled hinges

“There is properly no history, only biography” – Emerson

“You are our living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the story of the struggles waged, at home and abroad. Of sacrifices made for freedom’s sake. And tell them your own story as well – because [everybody] has a story to tell”. - Former president George Bush State of the Union Address, 1990 “The history of the world is not complete until your story is told!” - Unknown

The Memorygrabber

Background Information
Full Name _______________________________________________________ Today’s Date ____________________________________________________ Date of Birth _____________________________________________________ Place of Birth ____________________________________________________ Nationality _______________________________________________________ Ethnicity _________________________________________________________ Adult Height ______________________________________________________ Right or Left Handed _______________________________________________ Eye Color ________________________________________________________ Natural Hair Color _________________________________________________ Blood Type _______________________________________________________ Wear Glasses? ___________________________________________________ Profession _______________________________________________________ Allergies _________________________________________________________ Current Address ___________________________________________________ Notes and Additional Information:


The Memorygrabber

My Life’s Timeline
Using a timeline as an outline is one of the greatest ways to begin writing a life story together. Just as in writing a report for a school class, an outline is important. This timeline chart, is that outline. Here are suggested items to include in your timeline. There are many others. Your Birth Started School Birth of Younger Siblings Family Moves Changed Schools Achievements Summer Vacations Job/Career Changes High School Graduation First Date Got Engaged! Marriage Date Birth of Your Children Son/Daughter-in-Laws Birth of Grandchildren Eventful Business Trips Retirement Begins! Group Involvements Deaths of Loved Ones College Years Your First Anything Your Children’s Firsts: - tooth, steps etc… Anniversaries/Memories

~Happenings in Your Life~
Begin by entering the year you were born in the block just below the word “YEAR”. Continue by writing in each year until you reach the present year. Then proceed to major highlights of your life and those of your immediate family. You need only enter one or two words per entry. This is just a starting point. Use the margins of the appropriate years, to write in major world happening that may affected you and your family!


Your Age

Age 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14




The Memorygrabber
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56



The Memorygrabber
57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98



The Memorygrabber
99 100 101 Notes and additional information:



The Memorygrabber

Early Childhood
YOU READ: “My full name is _______________________. I was born in (place of birth) ___________________________ on (date of birth) ________________________ to (parents’ names) _____________________________________________________”. YOU ANSWER: What number (birth order) were you amongst your siblings?

Were you ever told at what time you were born? (Ex. 10:00am…10:00pm?)

What hospital were you born at?

Do you know the name of the person who delivered you?

Who where the first visitors to come see you?

Any complications at birth?

Any interesting details about your mother getting to the hospital in time?

Where you named after anyone? If so, who?

Your length at birth?

Your weight at birth?

Did you have hair? If so, how much?



The Memorygrabber

Had you been born the opposite sex, did your parents have a name chosen? What were your parents doing for a living in your early years?

Which relatives were involved with your early years the most?

What did you worry about as a child?

What was your overall health like as a child?

Describe the home(s) that your family lived in.

Can you remember any childhood rhymes or songs you used to say or sing?

Are there any other vivid memories from this time in your life?

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

My Early School Years
YOU READ: “I started school at the age of _______ in the year ___________”.

YOU ANSWER: Describe your elementary school. Name? Public? Private?

In what city or town did you attend grade school?

Who was your favorite grade school teacher? Why?

Was there a teacher that you didn’t like? Why?

What did you usually wear to school?

How did you get to school? How far was it?

What subjects did you like and which ones didn’t you like?

Who were your best friends? Tell what you can about them. Do you know where they are today? If so, do you keep in touch?

Did your siblings attend the same school? How many grades above or below them were you?



The Memorygrabber

What stories can you tell about your brothers and sisters during this time?

Ever get sent to the principal’s office? What did you do to get sent there?

Are there any accomplishments that you were particularly proud of? Did you win a contest? Get elected to student office?

Did you participate in sports during grade school whether in school or in a city league?

Did you find school easy or was it a struggle?

Who were your best friends?

Did you ever have to change schools? List all of your school teachers in order! Tell a little bit about each.

What did they teach you? What did you like or dislike about them? Did they expect you to live up to standards set by your older siblings?

First Grade Teacher________________________________________________ Second Grade Teacher______________________________________________ Third Grade Teacher________________________________________________ Fourth Grade Teacher______________________________________________ Fifth Grade Teacher________________________________________________ Sixth Grade Teacher________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

My Growing Up Years
YOU READ: “Now I’m going to tell about growing up in my family.” YOU ANSWER: What is your earliest memory as a child?

What is your happiest memory as a child?

What were you like as a child?

Was your upbringing a strict one?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Who is the oldest person (relative) that you can remember?

Was there a chore you really hated doing as a child?

What kind of books did you like to read?

What did you do for fun as a child?

Describe your childhood home.

What were your favorite toys?

What childhood games did you play?



The Memorygrabber
Who did you play them with?

What were some of the “old-fashioned” remedies for sickness that you remember your parents using?

Do you remember any early childhood birthday parties? Describe what you remember.

Tell about grandma’s house.

Did you ever get lost? Describe the feeling and circumstances.

Ever get stitches? What happened?

Where you ever hospitalized as a kid?

How did your family celebrate holidays?

What memories of mom’s kitchen do you have?

What were some of the TV shows you watched as a young child?

What family “get-togethers” do you remember from your early years?

Describe a nightmare that you still remember from your childhood?

Describe your first puppy love.



The Memorygrabber
Tell about your first bike.

Do you remember your parents coming home from the hospital with a younger brother and sister? Describe that memory.

Do you ever remember over hearing your parents discuss the name for a, as yet, unborn sibling? Describe what you remember of that conversation.

Did you ever attend the funeral of a family member as a child?

Ever break something such as a window?

Ever physically fight with your brother(s) and/or sister(s)?

Describe your childhood bedroom.

What major news events do you remember, even vaguely, as a child?

How did your parents spend a typical day?

What are some of the characters that you dressed up as for Halloween?

Did your family attend church? What memories do you have of those places of worship?

What family events stand out in your mind?

Did your family play cards and/or board games together? Which ones?



The Memorygrabber

Did you have one babysitter more memorable than the others? Who was it and why was he or she most memorable?

Do you still remember your first teddy bear or favorite stuffed animal?

In what ways are your siblings like either of your parents?

Which store’s wish book was your favorite?

Do you have any memories of world, state or county fairs?

Did you get paid an allowance? How much did you typically receive?

How did you earn spending money?

What were some of your parents’ greatest qualities?

What were some of your parents’ not-so-great qualities?

Did your parents emphasize achievement in school?

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

Teenage Years
What were you like as a teenager?

What’s the most outrageous thing you did as a teenager?

Were you involved with boy/girl scouting?

Which fads existed during your youth?

How old were you when you started dating?

Do you remember your first date? Describe it.

Tell about other memorable dates

What is the biggest purchase that you made in your youth with your own money?

What kind of part-time jobs did you have as a teenager?

What was the first book you ever read cover to cover? Tell about that book

What were some of the movies you went to see at the theatre?

Did you ever buy a car as a teenager?

Who were your heroes as a teenager?

Ever live in a foreign country? Tell about it



The Memorygrabber

What were your hobbies as a teenager?

Tell about members of the opposite sex you couldn’t stop thinking about, but who may not have even knew you existed? You know who I’m talking about!

Did you ever runaway from home?

Did you ever keep a diary or journal as a teen? If so, how are you preserving it?

Did you grow up in the country or the city?

Do you remember the family discussing world events and politics?

Was there a chore that you really hated?

What kind of book did/do you like to read?

How old where you when you first learned to drive a car?

How old where you when you first got your license to drive?

What kind of car was it that you learned to drive in?

Who taught you to drive?

When you first drove by yourself, where did you drive? Describe the feeling.



The Memorygrabber

Did you take any class or special course to learn to drive? Describe your experiences.

When you started driving on a regular basis, whose car did you drive mostly?

Ever get a traffic ticket? What was it for?

Did you have to go to traffic court? What was that like?

Ever involved in a car accident? What were the circumstances?

Ever go on a vacation with another (a friend’s) family?

Ever go to scout camp or any other type of camp during the summer?

Notes and Addition Information:



The Memorygrabber

High School Years
YOU READ: “I began high school at the age of _________ and graduated in (year) ___________”. YOU ANSWER: What was the name of your high school?

What was your school mascot?

Where is this high school located?

Overall, did you enjoy high school or did you hate it? Explain why?

Who did you have a crush on?

List some of the classes that you took in high school

Which classes did you do the best in?

Which ones did you feel lost in?

Did you consider yourself part of the “in” crowd?

List your favorite teachers.

Who were your friends?



The Memorygrabber

Were you part of any clubs or organizations i.e. FFA, National Honor Society, newspaper, drama club, annual staff etc…?

What were some of your biggest accomplishments in school?

Did you participate in any school sports?

Did you ever travel to a sport, band or other competition?

Describe yourself as a high school student (overall)

Did you have a boyfriend/girlfriend while in high school? Describe them.

Did you ever play practical jokes on anyone? What kind of things did you do?

Who did you play them on? Friends? Teachers?

Were you ever expelled from school?

What did you wear while in high school? Did you wear a uniform? What style of clothing was in at the time?

What was the most embarrassing moment for you in high school?

What was the best moment for you in high school?



The Memorygrabber

What type of music did you listen to? Who were the singers and music groups you liked?

What was the standard music medium? 8 track, records, cassette tapes, CDs, MP3?

Did you play in the school band? What instrument did you play? How good were you and do you still play that instrument from time to time?

Ever attend a school dance? Ever take a date to one?

Did you ever get into a fight while at school?

What were your grades like in high school?

Did you ever fail a class? How did you feel about that? Was it just too hard or did you just not put the effort into it? How did you parents feel about it?

Looking back, what are your happiest and most sad high school memories?

Do you wish you had done anything differently?

What was going on with your family during your high school years?

How did you spend your summers?

Did you earn any special honors in academics, sports etc?

Did you spend much time doing homework?



The Memorygrabber

Looking back do you still hold the views that you held back then? If different now explain what made your views change?

Did you have an after-school job?

What was going on in the world around you?

What did you plan to do after high school.

Have any of your classmates gone on to be famous or rich?

Besides academics, what life lessons did you learn in high school?

My Prom
(If you did not attend your prom, simply go on to the next section) Did you attend prom?

Who did you go to the prom with?

Where did you go for prom night?

What friends did you hangout with?

(If female) Did you buy a special dress? Where did you get it? Describe the dress.

(If male) What kind of planning did you do in getting ready for prom night? Limo? Flowers? Etc



The Memorygrabber

Class Reunions
YOU READ: “I attended my ______th reunion in (year) ______. I’m going to talk about that now”.

YOU ANSWER: Have you attended any of your reunions? If not why didn’t you go?

What was it like seeing your old friends?

Did you look forward or dread your reunion?

Did it live up to your expectations?

Who changed the most?

Did anyone become famous?

After attending how did you feel about your life’s accomplishment to that point in life?

What would surprise your old school mates to learn about you now?

Did seeing them help you realized that you changed in ways that you were unaware?

Had anyone from your class passed away that you were previously unaware of?



The Memorygrabber

College & Advanced Training
YOU READ: “I began college (or other type of trade school) at the age of _____________________”. YOU ANSWER: Which college did you attend and how did you choose that school?

Tell about your decision to go on to college.

What was your major field of study? Did you graduate?

How did you pay for your studies?

List some of the classes you took.

Who were some of your more memorable friends?

Which subjects where the easiest for you?

Did you have an active social life back then?

Did you date while in college?

Did you have to work to help pay for your schooling?

Did you become a member of any sorority or fraternity?

What did living away from home teach you?

The Memorygrabber

Did you attend a trade school?

What type of career did you train for?

What were the benefits that trade school gave you that college wouldn’t have?

Were you easily able to find a job after trade school or college?

What was going on in the world while you attended college?

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

My Parents
YOU READ: “My father’s/mother’s full name is ________________________. He/She was born on ___________________ in _______________________.”

YOU ANSWER: Your mother/father always said __________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

What number was your father/mother among his/her brothers and sisters?

Who are his/her brothers and sisters? List them in order of birth.

Where did he/she grow up?

What stories does he/or she tell about their growing up years?

What was his or her childhood like?

What kind of work has he/she done?

Describe the appearance and characteristics of your mother/father.

What was his/her life like before meeting your mom/dad?



The Memorygrabber

What kind of dreams did he/she have? Have they accomplished them?

What is your earliest recollection of your father/mother?

What sayings or expressions did he/she use often?

Tell about some of your favorite memories of your father/mother.

What things did you do together?

What traits in your parents do you see in yourself?

Have you learned anything about either of your parents’ earlier days, that shocked you?

Which parent do you look most like?

What traits and physical features did you “inherit” from each of your parents?

What have been his/her biggest accomplishments?



The Memorygrabber

My Parents Together
YOU READ: “My Parents were married at (place) ____________________ on (date) _________________________________”.

YOU ANSWER: How did your parents meet? (How, when and where)

How long did they date?

Do your parents tell any stories from their wedding or honeymoon?

Where did they make their first home?

At what age did they marry?

What stories have you heard from their early years together?

Can you describe what your parents looked like at that time?

How did they earn a living?

If they passed away where and how did it happen?



The Memorygrabber

Where are they buried?

Did your parents divorce? -How old were you when they divorced? -Did you understand what was happening? -Did you blame yourself? -Did you have to choose which parent to live with or was that decided for you? -Did you ever do anything in hopes of making your parents fall in love again? -Did your parent(s) remarry? -What was it like getting use to other family members (i.e. step-brothers and step-sisters)? -Did the whole divorce experience make you shy about getting married yourself? -Did it affect you emotionally in other areas of your life?



The Memorygrabber

Brothers & Sisters
YOU READ: “Now I’m going to talk a little bit about my brother(s) and sister(s) in order of their births.”

“(Name) ________________________ was born on (date) __________________ in (place of birth) ____________________________________________” (Repeat this format for each brother and sister). YOU ANSWER: What traits do you share with your siblings? What traits don’t you share? Who do you resemble the most physically?

What is your earliest memory of this brother/sister?

Do you know anything about his/her birth?

How did you two get along?

Did he/she go by any nicknames? How did they come by it?

What sort of dreams and ambitions did he/she have while growing up?

How did he/she do in school?

Do you remember any special family occasions where he/she was involved?



The Memorygrabber

What special talents does he/she have?

What has he or she done since leaving home?

What does he/she do for a living?

What sort of hardships did he/she have to overcome?

Is he/she married?

Who is he/she married to (include maiden name)?

When and where did this marriage occur?

Do you recall anything about his/her dating years?

Where did they make their first home?

Who are his/her children and when where they born?

Did this marriage end in divorce? If so, when?

Where does he/she live now and what are they doing?

Has he/she died? If so what happened and when?

Where is he/she buried?



The Memorygrabber

Aunts and Uncles
YOU READ: “I’m now going to talk about my aunts and uncles on my mother’s/father’s side.” YOU ANSWER: Who are your mother’s/father’s brothers and sisters? List them in order of their births.

Do you remember, or have you been told, anything from their younger days?

What are they like now as adults?

Do you remember any special family occasions where he/she was involved?

What does he/she do for a living?

How did they get along with the rest of the family?

Is he/she married?

Who is he/she married to (include maiden names)?

When and where did this marriage occur?

Who are their children? (Your cousins).



The Memorygrabber

What stories can you tell about these aunts, uncles and cousins?

Where does he/she live now and what are they doing?

Has he/she died? What happened and when?

If he/she has died, where is he/she buried?


YOU READ: “Next I’m going to tell what I know/ remember about my grandparents.”

“My Mother’s/ Father’s mother/father is/was (name) _________________________________________ and she/he was born on _________________ in (place of birth) _____________________________________.”

YOU ANSWER: What are the greatest things about your grandma/grandpa?

Describe their appearance.

Do you have memories of spending time at your grandparents home?



The Memorygrabber
What did he/she do for a living?

Do you know anything about his/her parents (your great-grandparents)?

How did they meet and fall in love?

How long did they date before they married?

What are some things that he/she taught you?

Do you think you’ve inherited any characteristics from any of them?

Did you live near or far from your grandparents?

Have your grandparents told you stories about your parents? Did your grandparents keep journals? If so, who possesses them?

Do/did your grandparents carry out any ethnic customs?

How did he/she most typically dress?

Were/are your grandparents religious? What church did/do they attend?



The Memorygrabber

Military Service
YOU READ: “At the age of ______ I joined the (branch) ________________”. YOU ANSWER: How did you decide which branch of the military to join?

How long did you serve? From when to when did you serve?

At what age did you join?

Did you enlist or were you drafted?

Where did you attend basic training or officer training?

What was basic training like? Easier or harder than you expected?

Tell about your drill/training instructor

Was it hard to be away from home? What did you miss most about home?

What kind of camaraderie did you experience?

What did your friends and family feel about you joining/being drafted?

Tell about your recruiter.

From what town or city did you join?



The Memorygrabber

Do you have any service friends that you still keep in touch with?

What was the most difficult transition for you to military life?

What did you like most and least about military service?

Did you make the military a career? Why or why not?

Describe your progression in the military. What rank did you attain?

What where your duties?

Describe a typical day…in basic training and afterwards.

What were you trained to do?

What was your military pay at the time?

What units where you assigned to?

What where your fellow servicemen like?

List all the bases you were assigned to. Which did you like the most and the least?

What was base life like? The barracks? Mess/Dining hall? Base housing?

Were you ever at sea? Describe life on a ship or submarine



The Memorygrabber

What did you do in your off-duty time? Did you travel much? Where did you go?

Was romance a part of your military experience?

Was life in the military what you expected?

Tell about your most difficult times in the military.

Did you experience combat? Tell of some of the situations you faced.

Were you ever deployed? Where, how long, what was life like there?

What military campaigns were you involved in? WWII? Korea? Vietnam? Desert Storm? Others?

Did you travel to or live in a foreign country? What was it like? How did the locals treat the military?

Were you honored with any awards or decorations? I.e. Purple Heart, Service Cross?

Was it difficult adjusting back to civilian life?

What did you do after leaving military service?

In what ways are you a different person now, because of military service?

Would you recommend military service to young people today?

Do you belong to any veteran’s groups?



The Memorygrabber

YOU READ: “I met (spouses full name) ___________________________ at (location) __________________________________________ on (date) ___________________________”. YOU ANSWER: Tell of the circumstances of your first meeting your future spouse?

How old were the two of you when you met?

What did he/she look like?

What was his/her situation in life like at that time?

What was your situation in life like at the time?

What was your first impression of him/her?

Tell some dating stories.

Tell about your first kiss!

What did you do and where did you go on your dates?

Tell of the circumstances surrounding the proposal.



The Memorygrabber

How long did the two of you date before you married?

Did either of you have doubts about getting married?

When and where were you married?

Share memories from your wedding and honeymoon.

Who attended your wedding?

What dating rules did your parents set out for you to live by?

What standards did you set for yourself? I.e. No kissing on the first date etc…

How old were you when you first dated?

Did you double date? Who was the other couple?

Do you have any embarrassing dating stories to tell?

Where did you go on your dates? Movies? High school events?

What song(s) remind you of your earlier days together?

What is the most romantic thing you ever did?

What was the most romantic thing that someone surprised you with?

What is the furthest distance you’ve traveled to be with somebody you desired?



The Memorygrabber

What concerned you the most when you introduced your future spouse to your parents?

What perfumes or fragrances remind you of someone you’ve been in love with or someone special?

What physical feature are you most often complemented about?

What do you feel is your most attractive feature?

You regret that you never had a relationship with this person.

The farthest you’ve traveled to be with someone you desired?

If you could magically change one thing about your physical appearance, it would be?

Tell about a compliment that made you blush.



The Memorygrabber

My Spouse and Our Marriage
YOU READ: “Now I’m going to tell you about my husband/wife (name of spouse) _____________________________. He/she was born in (place of birth) ________________________ on (date of birth) ________________________”. YOU ANSWER: (Special Note: Duplicate this list if you have had more than one spouse) What number was he/she among his/her brothers and sisters?

Who are his/her parents? Tell about them.

Who are your wife’s/husband’s brothers and sisters?

What do you know about his/her early growing up years?

What color are his/her eyes?

What color is his/her hair?

Where did your spouse grow up?

Was his/her family a religious family?

Know any stories from his/her childhood?



The Memorygrabber
What kind of schooling has he/she had?

What dreams and ambitions did he/she hold early on?

What did your spouse do between the time he/she left home and married?

What is his/her heritage or ethnicity?

How did his/her parents make a living?

What influenced you most in your choice of spouse?

Did you have any common friends? Who were they and did they play a role?

Did your parents support your engagement or were they against it?

How did their support, or lack of it, affect your relationship with your sweetie?

After your marriage did your parent’s opinions change at all?

What about your spouse attracted you?

What do you suppose attracted your spouse to YOU?

What were the words you first said to your spouse?

Did anything unusual happen during your wedding?



The Memorygrabber

Who participated in your wedding? (I.e. Best man, bridesmaid etc…)

Did you have a ring bearer or a flower girl?

Was your wedding elaborate or simple?

Was it a religious ceremony or civil?

Describe your reception. What rituals were observed? I.e. cutting the cake etc.

What traits did you and your spouse have in common?

What differences did the two of you have?

How did these things, common and different, affect your relationship?

What expectations of marriage did you have? For example, you’d never argue with each other, you’d never go to bed mad at each other?

Did you marry your spouse thinking that he/she would change or that you could change them?

If so, did they change or did you have to adjust?

Did you feel you had to give up anything when you married? I.e. your independence, a career, your close friends?

What do you feel you gained when you married?

Tell about first meeting your in-laws.



The Memorygrabber

How accepting of you were they? Did they welcome you to the family with open arms or was there resistance?

What does/did your spouse do for a living?

How did the two of you decide whom to spend the holidays with?

What kind of things did the two of you argue about early on and then later in your in your marriage? Rearing children, money issues, political things?

Is (was) your marriage one of traditional roles? For example, did one of you fill the breadwinner role while the other assumed a homemaker role? Did one or both of you deal with the finances?

If you divorced, what do you attribute it to?

What do you believe to be the “secret” to a successful marriage?

Where did you first live as a married couple?

Can you describe details of life during that time?

What did the two of you do to make a living then?

Mention the costs of housing and wages at that time.

What did you two do for entertainment?

Where have you lived since then?

What were your thoughts on having children when you first got married?



The Memorygrabber

Name all of your children that have come from this union.

What hardships have you both faced during your marriage?

What have been the joys and rewards of your marriage together?

(If you are still married to this spouse, please go on to the next section. If this marriage ended either in death or divorce, please give details and repeat the questions for each additional spouse.)

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

Our Children
YOU READ: “Our [first] child (full name), ____________________________, was born on (birth date) _____________________________ in (place of birth) ______________________________________________”. (Continue listing each of your children in order of their births and then answer the following questions for each of them)

“At the time of (name) ______________’s birth, we were living in (place you lived at the time of his/her birth) _______________________________.”

YOU ANSWER: Does/did this child go by a nickname?

What is the child’s father’s/mother’s full name?

How was the family making a living at the time?

How did the family react when they were told of the pregnancy?

What was this child’s birth length and weight?

What did this child look like at birth? (Example: hair, no hair etc.)

Was this child named after anyone?



The Memorygrabber

What time was the actual birth and what were some of the circumstances surrounding the birth? Were there any health concerns surrounding this child’s first few months?

Who was present at his/her birth?

Describe bringing your baby home for the first time?

If this was not your first, who watched your other children while you were at the hospital?

How did becoming a parent change you?

Recall what you can remember from the pregnancy. Was it a hard one? Did you/spouse have morning sickness? Experience any strange food cravings?

What is the current age of this child?

What is this child’s current height?

At what age did this child learn to talk, crawl, walk, potty train and read?

Who were some of his/her childhood friends?

What are the sweetest memories you have of your child when he/she was young?

What accomplishment(s) of this child are you the most proud of?

What education level did he/she reach or what grade are they currently in?



The Memorygrabber

Tell about your child’s grade school years.

Did you ever have any problems with any of their teachers?

Did you help them with their homework often?

As teenagers, what did you argue with your children about? Dating, curfews etc?

What did this child want to be when he/she grew up?

What did this child do after he/she left home?

Under what conditions did this child leave home? (Marriage, college, armed forces, bad circumstances etc…?)

Who has this child married?

Who are his/her children?

What things do/did your children do that makes/made you laugh?

Do you notice your adult children carrying on traditions they learned as youngsters?

Do you notice your adult children doing anything better than what you did as a parent?

What kind of values did/are you trying to instill in your children?



The Memorygrabber

Did you and other family members agree on how children should be raised?

Is there anything else you’d like to say about this child?

Sons and Daughters-In-Law

YOU READ: “My son/daughter, __________________, married (spouse’s name) _______________________________ on (marriage date) __________________”.


Describe and characterize this son/daughter-in-law.

Where is he/she originally from?

What is his/her work and educational background?

Where did your child meet him/her?

Who are his/her parents? Tell a little bit about them and where do they live?

Describe their dating period.

What was your reaction to their engagement?



The Memorygrabber

If this marriage ended, describe the circumstances and how it affected members of your family.

Has your child remarried?

Our Grandchildren
YOU READ: “I am now going to talk about my grandchildren beginning with the first grandchild.” “The full name of my [first] grandchild is ___________________________.” (Substitute the appropriate birth order of each grandchild between the red brackets […] YOU ANSWER:
(Note: If you also have great-grandchildren, please use the same format for your great them as well! Many of the questions in the “OUR CHILDREN can be used here also.)

Who are his/her parents?

Where and when was this grandchild born?

Who does this grandchild most resemble in the family?

What are your first/most cherished memories of this grandchild’s younger years?

What where your thoughts upon becoming a grandparent?

What where the circumstances surrounding his/her birth?



The Memorygrabber
What best describes this grandchild?

What stories can you tell about this grandchild?

What kind of role have you played in this child’s life?

How old is this particular grandchild today?

Where does this grandchild live today and what is he/she doing?

What are my hopes and dreams for this grandchild?

What more can you say about this particular grandchild?

Advice for Grandchildren and Future Generations
What advice do you have about any or all of the topics below?
Here is your chance to share and preserve some of your hard-earned wisdom with your children, grandchildren and other future descendants. Be honest and open about your answers. Your knowledge and wisdom here could help your posterity not have to “reinvent the wagon wheel”.

Raising Children_________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
Love and

Marriage_________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Money__________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Career__________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Education _______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Additional advice you’d like to give:



The Memorygrabber

Work History and Career
YOU READ: “Now I’m going to tell about my work history which encompasses (total number of years worked) __________.” YOU ANSWER:
Use the chart below to give a work history of yourself. You may also want to include volunteer work you have done! Use additional pages if you need more space. (Repeat these two questions, as needed, until you reach your present job) COMPANY WORKED FOR YEARS THERE YOUR JOB TITLE LOCATION/SALARY

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

How did you decide on a career path once you were older?

At what age did you begin working?



The Memorygrabber

Talk about the wages and working conditions of each of your jobs held.

How did you typically find your jobs? Newspaper ad? Did your family have connections?

Did you ever have to move to take a new job?

If you had to live away from family, because of your work, how did you keep in touch and how often? Who’s the worst boss you ever had? Why was he/she the worst? Who were your favorite/most memorable co-workers over the years? Do you still keep in touch with them?

If you could snap your fingers and change jobs tomorrow, what would you be? (Qualifications and education no being a factor)

What about your career has been the most satisfying?

Looking back, what would you change when it came to career preparation?

Describe a typical day in your current job.

What are the top 5 jobs that you’d want your children to do? Why?

What are 5 jobs that you’d steer your children away from? Why?

What has the word “success” meant to you in the past and what does it mean to you today?



The Memorygrabber

How many hours per week do/did you work? [ ] I wish I worked less [ ] I wish I worked more

My Own Business
YOU READ: “I began my own business in (year started) ______________”


What is the name of your business and what type of business is it?

Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?

How did you choose the particular business that you did?

Describe your business in the beginning.

Give a year by year accounting of the growth and changes in your business.

What do you see for your business and the future?

At what age do you hope to retire?



The Memorygrabber


What role has religion played in your life?

What church did you attend as a child with your parents?

Do you attend church now as an adult?

If you do attend, do you attend the same denomination today?

Tell of your conviction and faith towards your church and God!

Have you ever spent any time as a missionary? If you have, where did you serve and for how long? Tell of some of your experiences.

What role has religion played in your family’s development?

What are some of your earliest recollections of religious practices and ceremonies?



The Memorygrabber

Travels and Vacations
Color in or mark all of the States and countries that you have visited in your lifetime. Here is a great resource for maps: Once at that site, scroll down to the international section. Print any map that you need, then place a copy in your three ring binder.

Do you travel much and do you enjoy it?

Where are some of the more memorable places you’ve traveled to?

What is the nature of most of your trips? Business? Pleasure?

By what means and with whom did you travel?



The Memorygrabber

Where do you usually stay?

What things do you always take with you when you travel?

Describe the interesting people you’ve met along the way.

What places have you seen along the way?

How has travel changed in your lifetime?

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

Memorygrabber Lists!
List making is simply one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to remember and get things about your life down on paper! There are literally thousands of life lists that one could think of and write. Memorygrabber has included some of the most insightful and memory provoking list topics there are. You may wonder how a certain list contained in Memorygrabber will really be of benefit to others. Perhaps you will think that some list questions are trivial. You are free to skip any questions or list but... …Keep in mind that not only will things from your past be important to your descendants, but also the way you think and who you are in the present. It is suggested that you answer and complete all the lists and then go over your answers on tape (audio or video), giving more detailed answers as to why you answered the way you did. If you have decided not to record your answers and reasons on audio or video tape, you still should elaborate your list answers on the printed Memorygrabber page or on a separate piece of paper. One added note: List making is also a great way to discover oneself and look at your life from a different perspective.



The Memorygrabber

List Your Favorite:
What is your favorite…and why? As an option, for appropriate items, you can use it as a “Top 5” list. For example, you could list your favorite 5 drinks but your top 5 “seasons” wouldn’t make much sense. Just remember, it’s your list so do as you see fit. Just remember, the “why” is where the real story lies. Season __________________________________________________________ Actress __________________________________________________________ Actor ____________________________________________________________ Car _____________________________________________________________ Flower __________________________________________________________ Athlete __________________________________________________________ Bird _____________________________________________________________ Dog ____________________________________________________________ Politician _________________________________________________________ TV Program ______________________________________________________ TV Program as a Kid _______________________________________________ Flavor of Ice Cream ________________________________________________ Favorite Candy ____________________________________________________ Favorite Military Branch _____________________________________________ Way to Relax _____________________________________________________ Drink ____________________________________________________________ Board Game ______________________________________________________ Video Game ______________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Sport ___________________________________________________________ Animal __________________________________________________________ Food ____________________________________________________________ Book ____________________________________________________________ Card Game ______________________________________________________ Holiday __________________________________________________________ Way to spend a lazy Saturday ________________________________________ Fruit ____________________________________________________________ Soft Drink ________________________________________________________ Author __________________________________________________________ Vegetable ________________________________________________________ Style of Music _____________________________________________________ Poem ___________________________________________________________ Perfume _________________________________________________________ Kitchen Spice _____________________________________________________ Theatre Play ______________________________________________________ Superhero _______________________________________________________ City on each Continent ______________________________________________ Body of Water ____________________________________________________ Scenic View ______________________________________________________ Color ___________________________________________________________ Web sites ________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Place I’ve lived ____________________________________________________ Clothing to wear ___________________________________________________

Family “Awards”
Consider yourself, spouse, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, your children etc. Who fits the following descriptions best? Be sure to mention the person’s relationship to you and, if you can, explain why you put their name down. Give a short example of their behavior that garnered them these title!

The most sociable________________________________________________

The hardest worker_______________________________________________

The best cook____________________________________________________

The quietest_____________________________________________________

Has the best memory______________________________________________

The best gardener_________________________________________________

The most political_________________________________________________

The funniest_____________________________________________________

Most mischievous______________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

The best housekeeper_____________________________________________

The calmest_____________________________________________________

Has the best career_______________________________________________

Biggest animal lover_______________________________________________

The most educated________________________________________________

The best looking__________________________________________________

The wildest lifestyle________________________________________________

The most creative ________________________________________________

The biggest tease ________________________________________________

The most thrifty___________________________________________________

The most reclusive________________________________________________

The most generous________________________________________________

The best story teller________________________________________________

The most athletic___________________________________________________

The most religious__________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

The most cautious__________________________________________________

The tallest________________________________________________________

The shortest______________________________________________________

The most organized________________________________________________

The most “crafty” __________________________________________________

The most enterprising ______________________________________________

The most scholarly _________________________________________________

The most rebellious ________________________________________________

The craziest ______________________________________________________

The most traveled _________________________________________________

Longevity Award – Oldest family member that you’ve known or been told about

Most muscular build _______________________________________________

Most humble and/or grateful _________________________________________

Most mischievous _________________________________________________

Most kind ________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List the people that have had the biggest impact in your life. How? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List musicians and music groups that you loved as a kid:
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

List musicians and music groups that you love now: ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ List all the vehicles that you and your parents have owned: (Every vehicle has a whole host of memories attached to it. As you list your
vehicles, search your memory and see if there aren’t some fun or interesting stories that go along with it.)

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List all of the contents that are currently in your pockets, wallet and or purse. (Obviously don’t list anything embarrassing, but by compiling this list, it may give
you and your posterity a “snapshot” into your daily life. Business cards you’ve acquired tell stories, as do sets of keys that may run that new car, RV or boat you just bought.)

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List your personal “Top 25” movies of all time! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Take a look around yourself and make a list of everything that is within 10 feet of you! Elaborate and describe some of the more interesting items. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List every organization in which you have been a MEMBER or still are! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List what you hope your life will be like 10 years from now! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List all of the leaders of your country that have served during your lifetime. ( If you have an opinion of each, share it ) ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List old friends you’ve lost contact with but would like to see again! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List what would you have done differently in your life, if you’d known then what you know now? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List dates that are important and have meaning in your life!
(Examples: These can be typical dates such as birthdays, and anniversaries but also include other dates that spark memories each time that date comes around. These may be happy memories such as “proposed on such and such date 25 years ago or they may conjure sad memories such as a date that a dear family member passed away! Everyone’s list is unique)

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that convinced you most in your choice of spouse! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that you liked better about living in the era you grew up in! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that you like better about living today over the era in which you grew up! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber


List foods that you won’t eat! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the times in your past that you’d like to go back to, if even for a short while and why! (These times may be to go back and change things or just for the
sake of enjoying the moment again )

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ List the ways in which you live better than most people you know! ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________

List the ways in which you live worse than most people you know! _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

_________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

List things you’ve only experienced once in your life! _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________

List the things that you wish you knew the truth about! (Examples: Anything from the mysteries of life to “why he/she really broke off our engagement all those years ago”) __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

List the risks that you regret not taking and how would things be different? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
List places that have meaning to you?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the career(s) that you sometimes wish you had chosen! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the ways in which the world has changed in your lifetime! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that you have purchased and like to purchase online! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List what you’d do with a sudden windfall of $5 million dollars! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

If your descendants were to know only ten things about you, what would you want them to know? List them… ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the times that you’ve cried your eyes out! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List all the places that you have yet to visit but desperately want to someday! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List all of the pets that you’ve ever owned. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List everything that you once collected or still do collect. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List all the sounds around you right now! (Sit back and close your eyes. What do you hear? Your answer will be like an “audio snapshot” Examples: Do you hear the precious voices of your children? Do you hear sounds of a ticking of a grandfather clock that may passed down to you? These are things that will inspire memories and stories.) ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things you enjoy talking, reading and learning about! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber


List the things you own that will certainly be passed down from generation to generation! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List what’s in you closet that you can’t bear to part with! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the things that you still have and hold dear from your childhood! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the people that you thought, at one point, you’d be married to (or wanted to), but did not! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

What does it take to get on your spouse’s “good side” (cheer him/her up)! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the compliments you receive on a regular basis! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the things you hide when someone comes to visit! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List what you plan to do when you retire! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
List what you worry about the most!

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the celebrities that you’ve seen in person! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List songs or music that has meaning to you! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that you like that “most” others don’t! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List things that you don’t like that “most” others do! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List your favorite dishes that your mother use to prepare when you were living at home! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the lessons you’ve learned the hard way! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

A To Do List! List 25 things that you’ve yet to do but still plan to do in your lifetime.
1 _________________________________________________________________________ 2 _________________________________________________________________________ 3 _________________________________________________________________________ 4 _________________________________________________________________________ 5 _________________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

6 _________________________________________________________________________ 7 _________________________________________________________________________ 8 _________________________________________________________________________ 9 _________________________________________________________________________ 10 ________________________________________________________________________ 11 ________________________________________________________________________ 12 ________________________________________________________________________ 13 ________________________________________________________________________ 14 ________________________________________________________________________ 15 ________________________________________________________________________ 16 ________________________________________________________________________ 17 ________________________________________________________________________ 18 ________________________________________________________________________ 19 ________________________________________________________________________ 20 ________________________________________________________________________ 21 ________________________________________________________________________ 22 ________________________________________________________________________ 23 _________________________________________________________________________ 24 _________________________________________________________________________ 25 _________________________________________________________________________

List the places that you’d love to live and escape the chaos of the world ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

“To date my son or daughter, these are the rules you MUST FOLLOW”! (Base your answers on rules you had, have or will have depending on the age of your children) ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things you had to give up or put aside when you fell in love with your spouse. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the ways you are “just like” your father and mother (two lists). ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the ways you are not at all like your father and mother (two lists). ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List the greatest inventions that have been invented in your lifetime! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the things that you’d like to change about yourself! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the magazines, books, articles and topics you are reading currently. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List the times you’ve been thoroughly surprised! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List what you are good at! _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List things that you are NOT good at! ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List your favorite family recipes! (Include them in your binder) ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List your favorite web sites and things to do online! ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Life Inventory Lists
Inventory writing is very similar to list writing. This involves writing lists of your possessions or property. One example, would be to write down all the books (or nearly all of them) on your bookshelf. I wrote an article about this here: Using this same bookshelf example there are many other areas in your home that you can "inventory". Of course do not list something that would embarrass you or anybody else in your family. By including these inventory lists in your family history and autobiographies, you not only tell of events in your life but what your life is like day to day. Your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have the next best thing to being able to "go back in time" and visit your home as it was during your life. Time has a funny way of making bland things interesting. Please remember, though, this is supposed to be fun and I am not implying you need to list everything everywhere, just include a good sampling. This will not only give your family members in the future a chance to "visit" your home but many of these items will spark more stories that you will want to include in your autobiography, journal or diary. Here are some ideas of places in and around your home that you may wish to consider inventorying and writing down. INVENTORY LIST IDEAS Key Chain - What are all of those keys for? A boat? An old truck that you love? Your Junk Drawer - We all have one. Storage Closets Your Pockets - What do you have in them right now?



The Memorygrabber
Your Purse

Your Car - What you keep in your car says something The Desk Draw - Home or work. Do you keep candy in there? Computer Software - What software have you accumulated? Bookshelf Garage or Tool/Storage Shed Keepsake Box - Also a hope chest or footlocker Home Movies - One tape of our "1992 trip to Canada" for example Photo albums Gun Cabinet CD collection Your Barn Medicine Cabinet - Could be used for family medical history. Example, high blood pressure pills could mean a tendency for it in the family. Clothes - Clothes and events go hand in hand Your Yard - If you love hanging your clothes, you may even mention your backyard clothesline. The People in Your Office - If you don't work in an office, use the people on your street or people from any group that you belong to. These are "players" in your life story.



The Memorygrabber

First Time for Everything!
Life is full of first-time experiences. Thinking back on and recording our first experiences are a worthwhile, rewarding and effective way to preserve personal history. Take a look at the list of firsts below, think hard and tell what you remember from each experience. Some of these items may have two answers, such as when was your “first plane ride”. You may have flew as a youngster that you know about because your parents told you, then there may be another “first” plane ride that you yourself actually remember. In cases like these, tell about both experiences! You may think of additional items to add to your list that are not included below. We’d be happy to hear others that you come up with and will consider them for future revisions of Memorygrabber™. Send an e-mail to First Kiss ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Plane Ride _______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Car of your Own __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Received Drivers License _______________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Used the Internet ______________________________________________



The Memorygrabber


First Item Bought Online ____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Bought/Used a Cell Phone __________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Bought/Used a Microwave __________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Bicycle ______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Pet _________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Job/Pay Check ________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First “Best” Friend _________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Voted _______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Concert _____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Apartment ___________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber


Purchased a Home ________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Love ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Time Shaving _________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Barbershop Haircut ____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Lost/Pulled Tooth ______________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Hunting Trip __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Christmas/Hanukkah Away From Home ________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Day at a New School _______________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Traffic Ticket _____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Court Appearance _________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Became a Parent ______________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Deceased Person You Saw ______________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

First Received Flowers _____________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Notes and Additional Information:



The Memorygrabber

Social Circles
In a social setting I: [ ] tend to introduce myself [ ] tend to wait for others to introduce themselves

When you are attracted to someone I: [ ] prefer to be the pursuer [ ] prefer be the one pursued

I am most comfortable: [ ] by myself [ ] at work [ ] just watching others [ ] with one other person [ ] socializing with a group of people

In my relationships: [ ] I tend to make most of the decisions [ ] I do not make most of the decisions

I love it when people ask me this: _____________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

I hate it when people ask me this: _____________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Memorygrabber Activities

Activity #1 Share

your old photographs

Collectively you and the extended family could build a mountain from all those family pictures you have stored away! You know I’m right! You have pictures from when your kids where younger, pictures of you when you and your spouse were first dating, pictures from family vacations and picnics etc. Many of these pictures may have already been put in a photo album but what good are they doing there? Perhaps it’s time to dig out some of your favorites and build an online photo album and share them with others in your family! You will dig up pictures, perhaps, of your brother or sister’s kids that your brother or sister may have never seen before. They may, likewise, have pictures that you’ve never seen before of your children. These may have been pictures taken at a family picnic years ago. Our family uses to do this, but there are other alternatives. is still somewhat a free service but you will need to purchase extra storage space in order to store many of your pictures there. Most recently I purchased additional ten or twenty megabytes of storage space for $19.95 for one year. That will hold a lot of pictures. Once you set up your account, you can upload (add pictures) your pictures to your own private and secure family web site. The only people that will be able to access your pictures will be those that you invite to the site. will even send a notification to all the rest of the family when you or any other family member adds new pictures to the site! In addition to the obvious benefit that this activity will bring, it will provide a way to protect some of your most precious family pictures from a house fire or other terrible natural disasters. Even if the original pictures are destroyed, you will still have copies stored online. What a relief that would be!



The Memorygrabber Activity # 2

Progressive Family E-mail

Say you want to gather stories and memories of your late grandmother. You begin by writing your favorite few memories of your grandmother in an e-mail and then send it to a selected family member such as an uncle, brother, sister, parent etc. This family member will read that which you wrote about your grandmother and include a few favorite memories they have of that same person. Once finished, per your included instructions, they will forward the e-mail to the next family member on the list. They can do this by clicking on the “forward” button in their e-mail program. Each family member will, in turn, include a couple of their own memories of your/ their grandmother. Be sure to include some simple instructions and an ordered list of family that the progressive e-mail is to go to. You will be the originator of the e-mail AND also the last name on the list. In the end you will receive back all the memories and stories that have been written by your close family members. As a courtesy, you will want to compile all of the memories and stories gathered into one e-mail or printed pages and send them to all those who participated. Project Tips: To start out the progressive e-mail, send an e-mail to everyone that will be contributing. Inform them of what you are doing, why you are doing it and let them know what you’d like them to do when it is their turn to add their memories of the selected individual. This will create excitement in most of the participating individuals and will also prod the less eager to participate once they know that the rest of the family is counting on them to complete the progressive e-mail. Don’t stop at just one individual. There are others to collect memories of. Future family progressive e-mails could also be about past family events such as weddings, picnics or reunions.



The Memorygrabber

Everyone remembers different things from the same events and this will help preserve memories of the good ‘ole days! These stories will prove to be a family treasure for years to come.

Activity #3

Drawing from your past

Are you a great artist? No? Great, because you DON’T have to be to complete this very important personal history activity! In this activity you are going to, figuratively, go back and visit places that were a part of your life from years past. Take a pencil and a piece of paper from your printer and begin drawing the layout of your childhood home. The view to draw is from above the house, as if the roof wasn’t there; just like those floor plan books that are sold in stores. Draw basically how the walls divided the home. Include major items in the home like the fireplace and where the piano may have been. All you need to be able to draw are squares, rectangles and maybe a few other basic shapes. Once you have a rough sketch done of your childhood home, begin going through it in your mind (and on paper) as if you were walking once again through that home and begin labeling and making notes on the drawing as things come back to you. Treat this whole exercise as if you were giving a tour of your childhood home to someone who had never lived there and did not know you as a child. Recall and note on the drawing such things as where your mom had placed certain pieces of furniture. Did you have a certain spot at the dinner table that was yours? Which bedroom was yours and did you share it with a sibling? Do you still remember how the beds were arranged in that room? Did you fight over where your side of the room ended and where your sister’s side began? What did you



The Memorygrabber

hang on your walls? You could go on and on. Write down all the details that come back to you. Once you finish with the inside, head out the door into the backyard! Draw where the old tire swing was and don’t forget all your favorite hiding spots when you played “hide go seek”! Do you remember where you fell and had to get stitches? Can you still see your dad barbequing dinner in the back yard? And don’t forget that porch swing you spent those summer nights swinging on. As you spend time back in that home, you will recall many memories that otherwise may never have been remembered. While these memories may not be earth shattering, they are bound to put a smile on your face and help you remember being a kid again in a time and place that helped shape you into the person you are today! Don’t stop with just your childhood home. Draw and “give a tour” of other prominent places from your past! Here are some suggestions: Other homes you may have grown up in. Your first home as newlyweds The old church house you attended as a kid Your Grandparent’s homes Your street that you grew up on Place of employment Hometown/your part of town Schools attended including the playground Draw and recall any place that has meaning and importance in your past

Activity #4 A Project Never Ending
Life is a stage and, in our own life stories, we are the star of the show! This next activity is all about giving credit to all of the co-stars that have and still do appear in your life story! Take a separate piece of paper and start writing a list of everyone that you have every known! I’m really serious!



The Memorygrabber

This may sound crazy and you will never truly finish it, but you will be amazed at how many people that have been a part of your life thus far. Look at the four walls that surround you right now. I have no doubt that if you had an 8X10 portrait of all of the people who have been a part of your life, you could cover the walls and ceiling many times over. The names will hopefully prompt mostly good memories, memories that you will want to record in your personal history. Beside each name, put a note describing who that person was to you. We are shaped in part by the environment that surrounds us. The people in our past are a huge part of that environment. Write any interesting story that your list of names might inspire.

Activity #5 Reconnect with your Cousins
This one is a bit lengthy but please bear with me on it. Did you grow up with many if not all of your cousins around? With the trends in today’s world, as an adult, you most likely haven’t stayed close to them. With the way people move away from home for jobs, for example, families are losing touch with each other at a faster rate than ever before. In my case, there are 14 of us on my mother’s side of the family. As kids, we spent long summers together at family picnics and at each others’ houses. As an adult, I’ve seen them only sparingly over the past 18 to 20 years. Some I have not seen or spoke with at all. I am one of those who had to move away so I’ve had to rely on a little news, here and a little new there, concerning my cousins through my mom. Some have children who are just graduating from high school. The last time I saw the, they were just infants! I don’t know their spouses much at all. It is not possible to keep in touch with everybody in a family line forever, I know that, but there is value in keeping closer to your first cousins. A set of grandparents (living or not) are your common bond.



The Memorygrabber

It wasn’t too long ago where cousins, for the most part, grew up and lived their lives in or near the same community. This broadened the family support structure that played an important part in society. With cousins being more like strangers in today’s world, families disband, dissolve and go their separate lineal ways faster. This can’t be a good trend! Here is what I plan to set up and you may want to try it as well. Set up your own discussion forum at This is a free service and it will allow you to keep it a private group just for you and your cousins. You then have the ability to post one message and each of your cousins will receive the message; a great way to keep in touch! You will also be able to share photos of each other, your kids and make up for lost time. It’ll be a great way to reconnect. Discuss and reminisce about those old-time family picnics, grandma and grandpa and your parents/aunts and uncles (the middle generation)! If what I just referred to as the middle generation is still living, they need to be a part of your group especially. After all, won’t this help in writing your family history? It may take a little effort and a phone call or two to find your cousins’ e-mail addresses but it will be well worth the effort. I’d be very interested in hearing of your success in this activity. E-mail me at

Activity #6 Four Generation Pedigree Charts
Fill out a basic four-generation pedigree chart. Go further back if you can. You can find and download a FREE chart here Print out the chart, fill it in and put it in your Memorygrabber binder.



The Memorygrabber

Activity #7 Family Group Sheets
Complete a family group sheet for each family unit that you can. For example, do one for your own family, those of your aunt and uncles and also do one showing your parents as children. If you have this completed already great, but if you haven’t, get family group sheets from for free. Just download them, fill them in and print them off…stick them in your binder.

Activity #8 What Does your Bookshelf Say About You?
List all the books on your bookshelf. Make notes about the books you read the most often, those you have never read and how some of them were acquired (i.e. purchased, had then given to you etc…) Click the link below and read more about this activity: “What does your bookshelf say about you?”

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Activity #9 Play Family Trivia
Do you remember the original Trivia Pursuit game? Imagine, if there was a trivia game made up entirely with questions just about your family, how do you think you’d do? Before the next big family get-together, ask everybody to come up with 20 family trivia questions and bring them to the family get together. Once together, write these questions on index cards and ask the questions, awarding points for the most correct answers. Who would be crowned champion? Would it be you? Sample questions might be: Name the one class that Michael never passed in high school How long did grandpa date grandma before they married? Where did mom and dad meet? Jeff was gone two weeks in April 1982; where was he? If the game were to be played at a larger family gathering (not just immediate family), then the questions should be made from a wider perspective to include aunts, uncles and cousins. The object of the question writing and the game itself is to have fun and to spark good memories that will lead to family history type conversation. Don’t miss the opportunity to have a video camera rolling when this game is being played. You never know; stories may be told here that may never be told again. Look here for more information on this activity:



The Memorygrabber

Activity #10 Build a Timeline Chart
This activity is a little more involved than the timeline that you completed near the beginning of this book. Special Birthday of an Elderly Relative Use colored butcher paper to create a larger-scale timeline of the life of an elderly relative. Present it to them as a gift at a special birthday party. In preparing it, hang the long rolled-out paper across a wall and allow about two horizontal inches per year. (Two inches per year is only a suggestion). Write short accounts of his/her life on contrasting colored paper. Include: Photos from all stages their life Copy of Birth Certificate Marriage Certificate etc. Across the top be sure to show world events such as World War II, Vietnam and Korean Wars, The Great Depression etc. These and other such events shaped, for better or worse, their lives. This will be a great learning experience for you and will be a much appreciated and unique gift. Don’t do it alone though. Enlist the help of other family members. You can’t remember and do everything. A cooperative effort of many will make the timeline chart fuller and more complete. Family Reunions For your next family reunion, use a giant sheet of butcher paper to create a family timeline. Encourage all family members present to contribute events and photos to this giant family timeline. Invite them to write directly on the timeline or you might consider providing Post-It® Notes that can be written on and easily stuck to the timeline chart.



The Memorygrabber

Later, these photos and events can be neatly converted to a smaller version, reproduced and sent out to members of the family and/or displayed at the next family reunion. Completed family timelines can also be included in a family newsletter or posted on the Web. It’s still important to include world events along with family events. Just remember that there are no right or wrong ways of completing your chart. This activity will bring family closer together as they see before them how closely intertwined their lives are and always have been back through the years! …And How About One for Yourself? A large format timeline is the perfect way to take a good look at your own life. It will be very eye-opening and, if preserved, will be a treasure for your posterity. For many this may be the perfect way to get started on their autobiography. It requires very little writing. As you are adding notes and photos, life experiences are bound to come rushing back to your memory. Once you have your timeline completed, have a family member or friend video tape as you point to and explain each item on your chart. As you go over, on camera and point out each item, you may feel like a weather person on the evening news, but it makes things so easy and you shouldn’t run out of things to say!

Activity #11 Video Tape Everyday Life
This activity is especially important if you decide to combine and edit an interview video with other videos. It’s safe to say that most all video shot on home video cameras are of special events such as birthday parties, reunions etc. This really doesn’t capture the true, day to day, person. Why not shoot a supplemental video? Even if it is never edited, this supplemental video will depict everyday life; things done on a regular basis.



The Memorygrabber

These are the things that we usually pass off as being not interesting. Believe me, these things have a place in the story! If you are planning to edit the interview video (or other home video) on your computer, then this extra footage will be just the thing needed to really add fullness to your production! Suggested Activities to Include in a Supplemental Video Show the subject of the life story interview… …Walking down the street, jogging, bicycling or playing with the dog. Interacting with people close to them such as walking with a friend or playing games with their grandchildren. Take some video of them doing what they do on a typical day such as grocery shopping, weeding the garden, working in their wood shop or playing a round of golf. How about shooting a little video of grandma or mom sitting at her sewing machine or catching grandpa or dad sleeping in their easy chair? The additional things that you could video tape of their lives are many and, with some editing, it will add so much to a family video project.

Activity #12 Pass on Stories from your Childhood
If you have children or grandchildren, this activity will be a great way of remembering all those days of yesteryear but it will also someday be a tremendous gift to your descendants. The best way to explain this activity is to give you a few examples. If your granddaughter is turning ten write, in a journal or letter just for her, what you and life was like when you were ten. If your grandson was starting first grade this year, write your memories of your first days of school. If your daughter is heading off to college, recall and write down your memories



The Memorygrabber

of your life at the exact same stage (even if you never went to college). Continue to do this over the years for each special little one in your life! Depending on the age of the young family member, you may want to send a copy of what you write to the family member immediately. But if they are too young to comprehend what you wrote, hold on to it and give it as a gift to them when they are a little older. You should retain a copy of everything you write, though, for yourself.

Activity #13 Wedding Reception Reminiscing
Anyone in the family getting married anytime soon? If you answered yes to the questions above, you may wish to consider this next activity. During the reception there will be, as you well know, everybody and anybody that has been closely associated with the bride, groom and the family in general. Many of them will have known the bride and/or groom since they were children. Don’t miss this great opportunity, as everyone is just sitting around and talking, to get some of these individuals to say a little something on video for the bride and/or groom. Suggest to them that they, along with a few congratulatory words and best wishes, relate a cherished memory or two that they remember from the bride’s or groom’s childhood and growing up years. This will make everyone involved feel good inside. Reminiscing always does! This will make a great impromptu gift for the bride and groom. Not only will the bride (for example) enjoy hearing people tell about their special memories of her growing up, but it will help the groom realize just how special and loved the lady that he just married truly is. The above example, of course, works in reverse. The bride will learn more about her Prince Charming and realize how lucky she was to find such a great guy as she watches and hears the stories about her groom on video.



The Memorygrabber

Activity #14 Memories of Those That Have Passed On
Sadly, for many of us, our parents and/or grandparents have already passed on, but nobody knew them like you, your siblings and other family members. If they aren’t able to speak on tape or write about their life, there is one more hope and that hope lies with the rest of the living family. When my grandfather passed away in 2000, the grandchildren (all adults), aunts, uncles, and grandmother put together a collection of our favorite memories of grandpa. Some of his great grandchildren will remember him some; most will not remember him at all. In this activity, contact the rest of the family and request of them their favorite memories of the deceased family member. Each family member came up with two favorite memories of grandpa each. Once gathered, my cousin Cindy typed them up and made copies for everyone. Grandpa was too great a man and lived too great of life to not be known and remembered by his great grandchildren! This simple activity will pay big dividends, if even just one great grandchild comes to know her great grandfather a little bit better. As a bonus, it also really did our hearts well. Grandpa was a remarkable man, who loved his family. This activity helped to lift more than one heavy heart in our family. In the end, of 26 separate stories were written about grandpa. Everyone came up with separate and different memories of their favorite times with grandpa! No two people came up with the same memory. So give this activity shot and see what it will do for your family as well.



The Memorygrabber

Values and Beliefs
In this section tell where you stand on sometimes controversial topics. Of course skip the ones that you do not wish to answer. But remember, most likely only members of your family ever see your answers. Look at it as an opportunity to share your well thought out opinions and hardearned knowledge with your descendants who may never have the chance to meet you. Use a blank sheet of paper to expound at length on any subject you wish. How have you come by these beliefs? By knowing how you believe and how you came about believing as you do, you will help your descendants better understand you as a person. What are your feelings on…? Aids
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Death Penalty
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Mandatory Military Service
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Life On Other Planets
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Death & Dying
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Monogamous Relationships
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
Life after Death

______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Proper Dating Age/Rules
______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

Legalization of Drugs ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Which issue concerns you the most? (Choose one from above or one of your own.)

What have you done to support this issue?

[ ] I’ve donated money [ ] I’ve donated my time [ ] I’ve done nothing but plan to ______________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Politics & Social Issues
Where do you stand on these topics?

Who spends your money better, you or the government?_____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Taxes, out of control?_________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Do you believe in any government conspiracies?____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Do you really worry about overpopulation?__________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Ozone hole, real or junk science?_________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Foreign Policy___________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
Environmental movement, is it earth

worship?________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Do you believe in recycling?_______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Gun Control__________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Public Schools, give your grade___________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Endangered Species ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Paying Taxes___________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Poltically I define myself as [ ] conservative [ ] liberal [ ] moderate [ ] other



The Memorygrabber

Easy Journal
Print out several copies of this page and use it to quickly jot down journal entries. It can be used as a daily, weekly or periodic script for writing down recent happenings when you are in a hurry! You’ll look forward to this because it really is quick and a lot of fun!

Today’s Date___________________________ Day of the Week________________________ Today’s Weather_________________________________________________________ I went to_______________________________________________________________ Where I was most of the day_____________________________________________________________ I’m Reading_________________________________________________________ Watching ________________________________________________________ Excited About ____________________________________________________ Wearing _________________________________________________________ Eating/Drinking __________________________________________________ Hearing _________________________________________________________ Dreaming About ________________________________________________________________ Learning ________________________________________________________ Talked to ________________________________________________________ Sent/Received Email from ______________________________________________________________ Made me happy __________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

Made me mad ____________________________________________________ Accomplished ___________________________________________________ Remembering ____________________________________________________ Planning ________________________________________________________

Introspect Questionaire
I shop heavily with coupons I like to cook I read a newspaper everyday I’m an early riser I am grumpy in the morning I’m a vegetarian I’m a smoker I eat too fast I am a recycler I like to play card games I often have people at the house I’m spontaneous I like crossword puzzles I can whistle I like being on the phone I’m often late I’m a shopoholic I read in the bathroom I often get headaches I own a cellphone [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no



The Memorygrabber
I talk in my sleep I’m told I snore a lot I usually have to have the last word I know who I am I get out of bed immediately with the alarm I have fired a gun I don’t mind being photographed I’ve flown in an airplane I’ve forgotten more than one anniversary I’m a morning person I’m a night owl I’ve gone to movies alone I always have a book I’m reading I’m entrepreneurial-minded I save old letters and postcards I’m a fast talker (smooth talker) I often speak before I think I write letters regularly I love the computer I go on walks often I fold my underwear I often say “I love you” Others would describe me as outgoing I drink alcohol I set my clocks a few minutes ahead I dream in color I generally like people I find it hard to tell people no I keep a diary or journal I exercise regularly [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no



The Memorygrabber
I consider myself a romantic I fear public speaking I always wear my seat belt I love to dance I’m a good money manager I am frugal (thrifty) I play a musical instrument [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no [ ] no

That Which I Fear
Our fears are telling and usually have a reason and a story to go with it. This section gives you a chance to rate things you fear. If there is an interesting reason why you fear some of these things, please make mention of it in the comments section immediately below the item. Here is an example of fear playing a role in my family. My grandma Ledbetter was so fearful of the water that my mother never learned to swim and I can’t remember a time that my mother has actually gone into a swimming pool. My parents saw to it that we took swimming lessons, but I remember my grandma telling me to be “real careful around that water Mike”. I fear: Flying [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Guns [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Public Speaking

[ ] not at all

[ ] moderately

[ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
Losing my job [ ] extremely

[ ] not at all [ ] moderately

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Snakes/Spiders Bugs

[ ] not at all [ ] moderately

[ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Not being able to provide for the family [ ] not at all [ ] moderately

[ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Not being able to pay for kid’s college [ ] not at all [ ] moderately

[ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Growing old [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Change in general [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: _______________________________________________________ Heights [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: ______________________________________________________ Going in the water [ ] not at all [ ] moderately [ ] extremely

Comments: ______________________________________________________

Additional Notes and Information:



The Memorygrabber

My Medical History
A medical history can be a great help to your children and grandchildren. Many things are hereditary and the information you provide will help your family in the future. Optionally, if there has been a history of any of the illness mentioned below in your family, you will want to write this down as well…even if you, yourself, haven’t had the condition. A good example of this would be to mention if your grandfather passed away from a heart attack or if your grandmother had high blood pressure. Warning: Respect the privacy of family who are still living, especially. It is highly recommended that you get their permission and/or let them know what you are writing and why. If you include medical information in your autobiography, remember that it is not meant to embarrass, but rather to provide valuable information to those who come after you.

Discuss the following: My hearing is_____________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

My vision is ______________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Have you ever had, been diagnosed or experienced any of the following?

Heart Disease

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber
Heart Attack [ ] yes [ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________

High Blood Pressure

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________

Respiratory Problems

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________


[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________

Drug or Food Allergies

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________

“Bad Back”

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment: _______________________________________________________


[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment ________________________________________________________

Physical Handicap

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment ________________________________________________________

Major Operation

[ ] yes

[ ] no

Comment ________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

List the medications that you regularly take: ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

List any other medical conditions that you wish: ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________



The Memorygrabber

History and Nostalgia Links
Take a stroll back over the previous century. Below are links to some of the very best nostalgia sites on the Net! You’ll be able to relive those magical moments of your youth and yesteryear. Be reminded of the fads, culture and happenings from all the decades. “I can’t believe I forgot about that” will be your thought as you are whisked back in time. These sites are sure to bring up stories that you’ll want to tell. I’d recommend using a separate sheet of paper to record these stories. Then place it in your binder.

The Kingwood College Library of American Cultural History: The Twentieth Century - Don’t let the boring name fool you. This site is so full of
stuff from your past that you’ll likely be there awhile. This site is put together by Reference Librarians so you know it’s good and all-inclusive! I listed it first for a reason! This site takes us back through 100 years of fads that you either wished would stay forever or you hope will never come back. This site has recently added quite a few pop up ads, but the site is really worth taking a look at.

Another great web site that takes you back!



The Memorygrabber

Old Vehicles of all Kinds - Here’s a cool web site that is sure to send you thinking back, recalling and reminiscing about all the vehicles you or your family has owned over the years. Many of our memories are associated with the vehicles that we had at a particular time in our lives. Check it out! Go to the Gallery (Note: This web site is a little difficult to navigate, at first, but don’t let that stop you). Old Station Wagons – Did your family own one of these? See if you can find it in amongst these 449 models with pictures! Great Old-Time Radio Programs – Fibber McGee and Molly, Dragnet and Gun Smoke are just a few of the old radio discussion forums that are on this web site! If you’re not old enough to remember them, your parents or grandparents will! Your source for the history of nostalgic and old time radio series and news!

Golden Days of Australian Radio Old Lunch Boxes – Did you have one as a kid? Check out this museum of old lunch boxes and take a walk back through your past. Your Hometown – Use government statistics and information to gather information about your hometown. See how your hometown and county have changed over the years! Compare it to how it use to be The 20th Century – A daily accounting from 1900-2000 Hyper History A creative timeline format showing major events of the 19th century



The Memorygrabber

TV Land Online Remember all those shows you use to watch back in the day? I bet you have forgotten about some of these shows completely. Go to this site and relive those days of Chips, Bonanza, I Love Lucy and others. Children’s Books – Did you ever read any of these classic children’s books as a kid? This site has an extensive list of links to children’s books of all eras.

Time Capsule – Type in any date such as a birthday, wedding day or any day you can think of and this site will tell you what was going on in world and national news, entertainment and sports. It also tells the average cost of items such as milk, homes etc… Print these pages and put them right in your personal history binder!

Your Surname – This site will produce a color-coded U.S. map showing the avg. distribution of your surname in each state. Find out where the rest of the family lives. Give it a try. I had lot’s of fun with this!

Baby Boomer Collectibles – Do you remember any of this stuff? Here is a gallery of collectibles that are sure to trigger memories. Britsh TV from the 60s A look at some great British shows from the 1960s, including pictures.

Everything about the Fifties A terrific site that covers the 1950s well!

Drive-in Theatres – Those that are still with us and those that are gone (state by state).




The Memorygrabber

Friends & Associates
Up to this point in this book your history as been exclusively from your perspective. Now what needs to be done is get the perspective of those you closely associated with in days gone by. Here you will make a list of friends and associates who you will interview (however informal). I think you’ll be amazed at the stories and memories that you may have forgotten but that they haven’t. Of course you’ll want to interview your siblings and parents, but what about that high school friend that you have been meaning to get back in touch with – but haven’t. Or what about that old friend from college that you lost track of. Don’t forget your old military pals either. Well here we are going to set out to find these people and get reacquainted. Then all you do is what you’d do anyway…talk about the “old days”. Jot down notes about the memories that they might spark…afterwards write the memory down in more detail. Such fun to be had! Below are links to sites that can help you contact your long lost friends. You may not find them all of them, but I think that you’ll find many of them. Good luck! will definitely FIND who you are looking for but this service does cost a fee. Check them out! An all around great way to find people

Old friends that you want to find: 1. _____________________________ 2. _____________________________ 3. _____________________________



The Memorygrabber
4. _____________________________ 5. _____________________________



The Memorygrabber

Family Involvement

“Today’s family happenings are tomorrow’s family history”
Don’t overlook the little things that you are doing everyday that will mean a lot to you and your posterity in the future. Here are some suggestions to consider:

Instant messages - Save a copy of your chats and instant messages that you
have with family members. Of course do this with the permission of the other family member and be sure to delete anything that may be offensive to any other family member, now or in the future. In other words don’t talk bad about anybody. They themselves or their kids may read it someday. If you don’t save these transcripts, you are really losing a very valuable family record!

Emails – Same thing goes for your emails. Many of us are quick to hit that delete
button but next time think before you delete. Print a copy and save it in your family history book or journal.

Newsletters - If the majority of your family is still not online, you may want to consider starting a monthly newsletter. This is a great way that my wife and I kept in touch with my brothers and sister and my parents.
One month my wife and I would write the newsletter and then send a copy through the mail. Then the next month, another family member would write a short family newsletter about his/her family’s news and send out a copy of it to all of us. Each month thereafter we’d rotate the assignment. These letters are an invaluable source now of family happenings of yesteryear. It took very little effort to do. If most of your family is online already then I’d recommend This web site provides a great way for families to stay in touch and communicate across the miles.



The Memorygrabber

Have you ever been robbed or held up?

What do you believe will be the major world events of the next decade? If you could cure one disease which one would you cure? Why? If a movie was made of your life, who would you want to play your part?

If there was one person from your past, who you have lost contact with, that you’d like to find again, who would it be and why?

How has the world changed in your lifetime?

What inventions have you seen come about? For example, car, airplane, VCR, Internet, remote control etc… Tell about your experiences with these items and others.



The Memorygrabber

A Treasure Hunt!
Are your dresser drawers like time capsules? Would going though boxes in your storage be considered an archaeological dig? Unless you are obsessed with having a perfectly clean house, I’m willing to bet that you have several “vaults” of historical treasure right there in your home. It’s not going to be hard for you to put together your personal history after all. You’ve done a lot of the work already and didn’t even realize it. These, so-called, vaults are full of things that “tell” your life’s story. These treasures uncover: What we treasured in years gone by What was important to us then Old friends that we haven’t thought of for years Life in a simpler time …and so much more

It’s human nature to store things and not want to throw out things sentimental. Things like high school yearbooks and that instruction guide that you still haven’t thrown away to that first dishwasher that you ever purchased. You were so proud of that thing do you remember? But it’s not just the sentimental things that we keep. We keep records or every kind because “I might need this someday so I’d better not throw it away”. Sound familiar? These are things such as old checkbook duplicates. Yes…old checkbook duplicates! Here’s how! Most of us keep old checkbooks for years after the fact. Included in these duplicates are years worth of daily accountings of what we spent money on and places we’ve been. They may help you remember when a gallon of milk didn’t cost $3.00 and your electric bill was under $20. You might find the old carbon copy check you wrote for: Your baby’s bassinet or crib That old “classic” fixer-upper car you bought years ago for $500 Traveler’s checks you purchased to go see your son or daughter graduate college That special anniversary gift for your sweetie all those years ago



The Memorygrabber

Hopefully your mind is now churning with ideas. I found about four or five “good stories” to tell in each checkbook that I went through. This was actually a lot of fun even though I can’t believe all the money that I have spent over the years. I used to ask myself, “where did all my money go”? Well, now I know. So get to looking. Drawers and old files can be like time capsules. The deeper you dig the further back in time you go. Here are some ideas of what to look for: 1. Old recipes that date back for years 2. Old rocks that may be in your yard that you picked up from places you’ve been 3. Old letters that you wrote but never sent 4. Old letter that you received 5. Papers from a job you use to hold 6. Lists of goals, success and achievements from the past 7. Travel brochures to places you’ve been 8. Travel brochures that you ordered for places you wanted visit but never did 9. Appliance guarantees for every appliance you ever purchased 10. Old newspaper clippings 11. Magazine pictures that you clipped out to remind you of things you enjoy 12. Poetry you’ve written 13. Children’s old report cards 14. Lock’s of hair 15. Old driver’s license 16. Drawings 17. Old photos that you never put into an album 18. Old craft project kits that you were sure that you’ve someday finish 19. Old books you’ve bought 20. Old calendars with notations about appointments, meetings and social events etc… 21. Old wellness checkup paperwork showing your babies weights and measurements at certain points in your babies first years 22. Dried flowers 23. Old clothes patterns 24. Your old high school varsity sports letter that never was sewn on a jacket 25. Old paintings from when you loved to paint 26. Favorite quotes that you collected. Why were they important to you back then? Keep going. You’ll be surprised with what you find and hopefully most of the things you find will put a smile on your face. All flat items that you find should be put in acid-free sheet protectors and put in your binder. Your posterity will someday thank you for it and they will feel all the more closer to you. Remember, one generations junk is another’s heirloom.



The Memorygrabber

FREE BONUS: “The Family History Jumpstart E-Book” A compilation of highly interesting stuff. It loaded with all the inspiration, motivation and instruction one needs to bring out the family historian in all of us. This e-book is currently not available for the Mac computer (sorry). Find out how this book can help your business or organization gorw! Click the link below for all the exciting details!

Just like adding an extra hard drive to your computer. Get up to 100 MB of PRIVATE and SECURE storage space for your stories and family history for $4.95 a month. If you use a word processor to write any of your history I highly recommend you use a service such as Xdrive. You can’t afford to lose what you have already written! I’ve been an Xdrive customer for more than two years and highly recommend them!

One of our families favorite sites is ! It’ll bring your family closer and it provides a great place to store your family photos. If you haven’t got your FREE family web page yet go and get one now! It’ll take only but ten minutes and you don’t need to know anything about making a web page. You’ll be proud of your work.


Click the box or the link below to download your free copy of Legacy Family Tree. It is a highly acclaimed genealogy software program. It’s a fully functioning program [ not a demo] and yours free from Legacy!



The Memorygrabber

“Tell the Story Behind The Photos” “ Create a Family Album” “ Family Historian”

Unique Tool: Do you have anything that needs translating? Perhaps you have an old family bible that you can’t read because it is in German or Spanish! Ever come across a web page that you couldn’t read because it needed translating? Want to speak with living, but distant, relatives who may not speak your language? Try this web site! Translate a word, a sentence or even an entire web site and it takes just seconds! Even if you don’t have anything that needs translating, this is so much fun you’ll probably go looking for things to translate! Here are some additional alumni sites. You will want to check them all because an old classmate or friend may have signed up at one service but not the other. Some of these sites charge for premium services. Many show international listings as well. - Military

Family History Links Worth Your Time
Here is a list of discussion groups that I frequent and find exceptional for information and inspiration and support from others who are also writing their life stories.



The Memorygrabber

Memoirs and More – A small but very active discussion group Description: Memoirs and More is a group for anyone interested in lifewriting, autobiography, making a scrapbook, therapeutic/healing writing, or just interested in creative journal techniques Signup here: Life Writers Digest- A free e-newsletter for people who write their lifestories Putting the Polish on your LifeStory Rough Draft Five Do-able Tips for New Lifestory Writers

"I stopped thinking about writing and simply wrote. I've gained a sense of fearlessness."

Take this Vicarious “thrill ride” through the 1900s
Grandfather Tell Me More by Leo VanMeer This book will do good for both old and young. After reading this great book, written by 94 year old Mr. VanMeer, I felt as if I had lived all throughout the 1900s.and that I could relate even closer to what life must have been like for my grandparents and greatgrandparents as they grew up through the early and mid 1900s. It’s a vicariously thrilling ride through the 1900s that you don’t want to miss!

Here is an excerpt from its Preface… “If someone before January 1, 1900, had written a prophetic narrative, foretelling the twentieth century and it’s accomplishments, would anyone have believed the account? Even far-sighted individuals might have experienced difficulty foreseeing wagon-rutted roads replaced by a paved and numbered, nationwide highway system, alive with motor vehicles.



The Memorygrabber

Who would have believed that aircraft, weighing tons, would transport freight and passengers through the air, at the speed of sound across oceans to other continents; or computer-controlled rockets carrying astronauts to the moon? Only science fiction buffs might have accepted radio, television, fax, a world-wide telephone system, and computers as well as countless other innovations. It’s extremely doubtful anyone, that first New Year’s Day, could have even remotely visualized the emerging world we senior citizens have been privileged to witness and experience.” Use this link to get a copy of “Grandfather, Tell Me More” At last check, they were experiencing some problem with their order page. If you find that this is true, please contact me at and I will let you know when the problem is resolved.

Send a blank e-mail to receive the FREE InfoProduct Masters course… It’s an intensive 5Day email course on creating, producing and online-selling your very own infoproduct. This course refers to the book that taught me how to put Memorygrabber together. If you have an interest, hobby or passion--you can do it too! There are over 1,200 pages of know-how in this book and I whole-heartedly recommend it to you!

Thanks, once again for your purchase of the Memorygrabber™! Please email me at with any questions or comments!



Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful