University of Nevada, Reno




Why Write: For Your Family


Writing for the next generation

Imagine if you had a story written by your grandparents, mother or father about life during their youth, before you knew them. How precious would that be?


Now think of your own children or grandchildren. Perhaps they have been nagging you to write down some of your stories. If they haven’t, the time will come when they will want to hear your stories, just as you can imagine now what it would be like to read your own grandparents’ tales.


It’s easy in the hubbub of daily living to forget to tell those stories, as one autobiography workshop participant noted. “My family has always wanted me to get it down, asking, ‘When did you do this, when did you do that?’” he said. “Now, with my son in Omaha, I communicate on the telephone, but as far as telling him my memories, I have no way, and this gives me a way.”


We have found the process of autobiography writing strengthens family ties. Of course, when we share the narratives of our lives, understanding and closeness are nurtured. In addition, the written record of those stories is a valuable legacy.


An example from an autobiography workshop conducted in Las Vegas illustrates the process strengthening family ties. “Bill” told his nephew in Chicago, whom he had put through college, about his desire to write his life story after attending a workshop. In response, the nephew purchased a computer for Bill. While doing research for his autobiography, Bill reconnected with his two daughters, one of whom he hadn’t spoken to for years. Two years later, when Bill died, he left copies of his autobiography for his nephew and daughters. One of Bill’s daughters reported that the reconnection made major changes in her life. After the funeral, the nephew spoke with the workshop instructor to offer appreciation for the impact of Bill’s autobiographical legacy on their family.

Link to Fact Sheet--Creating an Autobiography: A Family Keepsake


Here is a worksheet to generate some ideas for your family legacy.

(Best if printed on 11x17 paper and folded)