Journal for Generations to Come

Whenever I look back at my scrapbooks, I am always drawn to the journaling. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the pictures a lot —  and the layouts bring everything together, but it is the journaling that fills in the blanks and brings it all to life.


It’s the same with journaling in a heritage scrapbook as well. I can be tempted to stick with names, dates, places and the facts that we can glean from the backs of the photos, but to really bring them to life, I feel the need to add some background information.

1.) Write your journaling as if you think that the reader will not know anyone in the photo. This works for our own modern layouts as well as for family heritage layouts.


Example: When you design a layout about your family tradition, the main focus is on the actual tradition but do you remember when it started? Has it been handed down many generations or are you the first in the family to have done it. Imagine several generations from now how delighted your family will be to see exactly where that beloved tradition actually started and the reasoning behind it AND… from the person that started it!


2.) Explain the setting of your layout — as if you were describing it to a stranger. It might feel funny now, but think in terms of one hundred years from now; it would be wonderful to know a little bit more about where and why the event was happening.


Example: When my oldest daughter was married in 2014, her reception was held in a barn that caters to beautiful rustic-chic receptions. I could tell the name of the place and where it was located, but how wonderful it would be to also include why she chose a barn setting. I could add in how Pinterest played a huge role in the planning and even where she originally found that concept.


As much as I still love Pinterest, and signed up as one of their first users, it is easy to see how newly engaged women are now looking at a Instagram to find their perfect idea of where they want to have their own receptions.  While Pinterest is by no means gone, you are giving that reader, years from now, a glimpse into our daily lives and how we made our decisions.


3.) If you only have facts about the person or place in your photo to use in your layout, do your own research on what was happening around the time and place of the photo you are documenting.


Example: We have so much right at our fingertips. As I’m writing (typing) this, I can see the Microsoft Cortana box at the bottom of the screen prompting me with, “Ask me anything.” Who doesn’t love Google or some of the other Search engines available to us. There are online newspapers that are indexed and just waiting for us to search for a particular event, date or place.


In one of my recent Life Story Books, I knew that the 1936 photo, contained in my layout, was a group of young girls and boys in front of a New York orphanage — including the young boy that was the focus of my attention. I could locate the census record showing him actually living in the orphanage in 1930 and back with his family by 1940. This didn’t make sense to me because I have always thought of orphanages as being a place children went to after a parent had passed away. It didn’t take long before I found a story on how many families had been displaced by 1930 and thousands were living in Central Park — all due to the Great Depression. This particular orphanage was busting at its’ seams during the Depression because families could not take care of their children and took them to the orphanage as a way for the children to be fed and cared for.


By finding a message board about the orphanage, I came across postings of actual family members that had gotten stories from their relatives on their own time in the orphanage. This gave me another point of view and helped to expand the story behind the one photo of the “inmates” as they were called in the 1930 census, in front of the orphanage.


An interesting side-effect of finding these stories is that we can look back at this gentleman’s life with a different point of view. Just seeing him standing in front of an orphanage and not knowing what was going on at the time, we might have thought his family just didn’t want the children, but now know that they most likely gave their children to the orphanage as a way to protect them and make sure they were fed during such a low time in our American history.


I hope that you can see that your journaling will be around for many years to come and it could be a real time-capsule for those generations coming after us — let’s not leave them yearning for the story behind the photos!


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