Quick and Easy Tips For Writing Your Life Story

May 2, 2017

Written by: Terry Kelly and Tara Dolgner

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a life story of one of your ancestors? A life story really tells the story of your family member and it is something you and your family will treasure for years to come.

What’s the Best Way to Get Started?

Start by gathering information and documents. Ask family members for copies of letters, birth and death certificates, military records, wills, and look in old Bibles. Research census reports and military records.

Conduct Oral Interviews of Family Members

Bring your digital recorder with you and ask a lot of questions. Here are 20 questions to get you started. We recommend starting with the older members of your family.

Tell Your Story

You may need to focus on one side of the family at a time and try to include two to three generations. Start with basic facts about the person (birth, marriage, and death dates).

Next, add parents and sibling names along with those birth, marriage, and death dates. Then start telling your story. It is helpful to use headers to help you organize the material and you may want to start with an outline to organize your ideas.

Incorporate Quotes and Photos for Interest

By incorporating personal quotes and photos, it will really bring your story to life. You will begin to feel as if you really know the person being described in the life story.

Cite! Cite! Cite!

Don’t forget to cite every fact that isn’t common knowledge. Your go-to source is for this is Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. You need to cite correctly so that the next person looking for the information will be able to find the material easily.


Why not have your information printed as a keepsake book that you can give to family members? One self-publishing source is Lulu.

Visit Kith and Kinsmen to see a sample life story.

Kith and Kinsmen is all in the family. Terry and Tara are a mother/daughter duo who have a joint interest in family history. Terry and Tara are well versed in genealogical research. Together, they complement each other and create a great genealogy research team. They have worked together to research their own family and are now interested in helping others in their journey.