Having even a transcription of an ancestor’s personal journal is a blessing to any family historian. It gives us a picture of the person and the world surrounding him that no amount of vital records can provide. Should we also have letters and photos along with the journal, ecstasy ensues.
Considering how precious we find these gifts from the past, what gifts are you leaving your future generations. Today’s technology allows us to easily capture not only words and photos, but also audio and video. And, since so many of us are carrying camera phones with us at all times, there’s no excuse for missing the magic moments in our family’s lives. The iPhone, iPod Touch and many Android phones include cameras that shoot both photos and video and there are many journaling apps available to capture and preserve the events of our lives – both the normal and the special ones.
We are already sharing much of these events as status updates, photos and videos posted to Facebook. I recently stumbled upon a review of an iPhone app [Momento – $1.99] that not only allowed you to enter your thoughts and feelings along with photos taken on your iPhone, but you can also connect it to your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Swarm – Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and LastFM coming soon) to automatically pull in your status/activity there. My first thought was this was carrying things a bit far, but I quickly realized the merits of the idea. In today’s busy world, the less duplication of effort involved in documenting our days, the more likely it is we’ll actually do it. And, having an app like this on a small device that’s always nearby means we’ll be able to capture the sights and sounds of those moments.
Several journal apps also have desktop versions allowing us to synchronize and archive journaling content safely. I have Day One [iOS – $4.99 & Mac – $9.99]. I use it on my iPhone to capture moments as they happen and on my Mac to write longer articles documenting my family – past and present. All those entries are maintained together – arranged by date. Day One also offers a tagging capability which can be used to select, display and even print selected entries.
Today’s digital journals may not be as attractive as the leather-bound journals of old, but they will capture a much broader picture of our lives. A journal is a personal thing and the first step is finding a journal app that fits your style. It might be a desktop app or even a “notebook” on your mobile device. Whatever it is, it will become a treasure for future generations. You just need to get started!