‘Boring’ class on writing family history turns out to be delightful

Rose Marie Ludwig

“I had the opportunity to have a class on writing your family history,” says Rose Marie Ludwig of Henderson, Nevada. “I didn't want to go—I thought it would be boring. At the time, I was working at the family history library in Las Vegas. Pam Rammage, one of the family history missionaries serving in that library, was going to teach this class. I was working on my computer that night, running into brick walls in my genealogy. So I went up, figuring it would be something else to do for an hour.”

Pam’s approach to writing your family history was entirely different than anything Rose Marie had experienced or expected.

“She told us that what makes family history interesting is the stories. Whatever your age, you've had experiences, therefore you have stories. She read us an incident from her life, and it was short, it was fun, and it was interesting. She said ‘OK, for next week I want all of you to write a story,’ and she gave us a subject. ‘It doesn’t have to be about your childhood. It can be something that happened last week.’

“There were seven of us in the class. Everybody wrote a story about that subject. The next week, everybody came, and everybody shared their stories. It was delightful! In sharing the stories, it brought to mind other stories—it brought other memories to the surface.”

During each week of the class, they were given other subjects to write stories about. At the end of eight weeks they had all shared eight stories and had suggestions for other stories they might write.

“Since then I have written 25 or 30 short stories,” Rose Marie says. “Some are only five or six paragraphs.”

What does she do with the stories? She shares them.

“My family of 15 or 16 people gets together once a month for dinner,” says Rose Marie. At those dinners, she now includes “Papa” stories about her husband, who passed away five years ago. “Unfortunately he is not here to defend himself, so he has to endure them from my viewpoint,” she says with a smile. “The first one was a short story, funny, about their grandfather, and everybody enjoyed it.

“The next month at dinner, they asked, ‘Grandma, do you have a story for

us?’ I let them choose a Nana or Papa story, and I pulled it out.” And so a new tradition was created.

“Sometimes they ask for repeats, so I read it again,” Rose Marie says. “The kids are learning things about their grandpa or their dad, or one of their uncles. So it's turned out to be a real fun family activity, one that I hadn't even imagined.”

She has related plans for Christmas: “I printed up the stories I have. I'm going to put them each in a plastic sleeve in a loose-leaf notebook and give one notebook to each family. Then we can add to it in the future.”

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