Ready to Organize and Write Your Family History?

Ideas to Start Your Journey

One of the questions I have heard at our in-person program meetings is, “who in my family will be interested in my genealogy work, after I am gone?” Like many of you I also wonder who will be interested in my personal genealogy gathered over many decades.

This article is focused on sharing ideas for how to start writing your family history. People tend to be more interested in the results of discovery than boxes of information. Family members don’t fight over the chance to take our boxes of “stuff”.

A simple way to start writing is to take paper and pencil and begin to think of a purpose for writing your family history. As an example, below is my initial process for writing my family history.

Focus on End Result

My main goal is to make sure that my family history is saved beyond my lifetime.  My choice would be to write a family history, which involves starting to write summaries or sketches from the facts I have collected about my ancestors. Include citations for those facts. From this I can start to develop further stories and information from what I have collected. Such as how did my grandparents or parents meet?

Find a Family Member or an Archive?

Family in the traditional sense is usually parents and children, and grandchildren. However not everyone has lived in a traditional family. Maybe you never had a child of your own, so who would you pass it down to ?  An option is to find an archive or local genealogical society to see if they take written family histories.

Connect to Other Genealogists

Whether I find a relative to pass along my genealogy work or provide a written format to an archive, developing connections to other genealogists is also beneficial. Local genealogy societies often have special interest groups that provide opportunities to share and learn how others write their genealogy story.

Manage Writing Time

Genealogists spend a lot of time doing research. There never seems to be enough time! If your genealogy materials are disorganized or your written family history is not finished, how can you get it done?

One guide I use is to get into a routine. Identify the specific activities that you will be doing to write your family history. Is there a best time during the day when you like to write? Is there a trigger to help write, a picture, a record, a particular ancestor, or article, that helps to start? What is the social history your ancestors lived through, people and events of the time? The main point is to think of a story based on records or evidence you have collected to get you started.

What next?

The key is to write your family history. Can I do it on my own or do I need help to organize and write? If I need help, where can I find it? One step is to look at the resources that are available on-line to write a family history. Look for guides to be organized as a genealogist. Seek help or opinions from others who are working through the same process of writing.

Bibliography List

Smith, Drew. Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for every Researcher: Family Tree Books, 2016.

Erlbach, Arlene. The Families Book: True Stories about Real Kids and the People They Live With and Love: Free Spirit Publishing Inc., 1996.

Szabados, Stephen. Write Your Family History: Easy Steps To Organize, Save and Share. Copyright 2014 by Stephen M Szabados, independent publishing platform through CreateSpace.

Ready to Organize and Write Your Family History?

Have you established a Schrebergarten in your community?


The garden movement was not invented by Moritz Schreber, as is commonly assumed, but by a Leipzig school principal. In 1864, Ernst Innozenz Hauschild established the first Schrebergarten by starting a club in cooperation with parents and students and leasing land to provide a playground for the children of factory workers. The children could play and perform gymnastics under the supervision of a teacher. Moritz Schreber had long championed playgrounds for children. Since Hausschild did not want to name the club after the school, he decided to name it in honor of Schreber who had passed away three years earlier. A teacher by the name of Heinrich Karl Gesell planted the first garden.

Check out the following:

Have you established a Schrebergarten in your community?

Memorial Day 2020: Honoring 14 Ancestors who served from the Spanish-American War to the Post World War II era

All of the 14 Following Men are related to me who served, drafted, joined the US Navy or the Army from the time of 1899 to 1955. Also all of these men lived in the small town of Lyndon Station, Wisconsin. Many were born and raised there, died there or called it home for the majority of their life. It is an honor to have known 5 of the 14 during my life. They all served in various parts of the world and many participated in battles, saw horrible things. A couple died as a result of their service.

Spanish -American War period

Great Grandfather: Joseph C Podrasky – Navy 1899-1903 Served overseas June 1900 – November 1903 Philippines, China and Japan

World War I

Great Uncle: Theodor A. Rettammel – Army 1917 – 1919 Wounded in France, August 2, 1918, Gassed and died in Military Hospital in March 1919.

Great Uncle: William Wendland – Army 1917 – 1919 Overseas in France: February 1918 – February 1919 Wounded and gassed in battle August 2, 1918

Great Uncle: August Wendland – Army 1917 – 1919 Overseas in France February 1918 – April 1919 Wounded in battle August 30, 1918 near Valtrinz Farm.

Also served but State Side:

Great Uncle: Henry Wendland – Army 1918 Died from Pneumonia/Flu Oct 1918


Great Uncle: John Wendland – Army August 1918 – December 1918

Great Uncle: Louis Wendland –Army – Post War period

World War II


Uncle: William T Rettammel – Army 1941 – 1945 Overseas Europe: April 1942 – September 1945 Several battles France, Germany, Central Europe & MP

Pacific Theater

Uncle: Arthur E Rettammel   
Uncle: Arnold R Rettammel

 Both in 32nd Division Both overseas in Australia, New Guinea, Phillipines May 1942 – August 1945

Also in 1942 all were listed, along with their brother and another Uncle Ed Rettammel

Uncle: Norman Rettammel 1945 – 1947 Post War Germany

My Father: August H Rettammel Jr. 1953 – 1955 In Germany

Memorial Day 2020: Honoring 14 Ancestors who served from the Spanish-American War to the Post World War II era