How High School Essays Became a Family History Treasure

Transfer Essays to a Memoir

Have you taken the time to record what you or a relative was like? If you think it’s too difficult, then dig through your attics, garages, and files for essays written during high school. You might discover the fodder you need to write a book that becomes a family history treasure.

Every family and every family member has stories they share about days gone by. We tell them at reunions, Sunday dinners, and during casual activities. Stories immerse the average children and family members in there heritage without the drudgery of digging in archives or looking at stale charts. The best treasure we can leave for our family is book detailing our past.

What did you save from high school?

For many, high school is a significant milestone from an individual’s past. A significant portion of former high school students saved memorabilia and photos from that rite of passage. If you’re fortunate, you might have journals or assignments from that time period.

Take out your high school treasure and begin making a memory book about the teenage years. Discuss the activities you participated in, the classes you liked, the friends you made, and so on.

If you have writings from high school, you can include them in your high school memory book or create a separate book of their own.

How Andy’s High School Essays Became Our Family Treasure

Andy, the DNA guy of Family History Fanatics, has developed a reputation for simplifying the complex in genetic genealogy. He also handles topics such as:

  • Adam and Eve
  • Old People in Genealogy
  • Scandinavia
  • Red Heads

Had we known Andy in high school, we would have met a smart troublemaker. His poor English teachers received the full brunt of his comical frustration with the public school system. And yet, those teachers probably silently chuckled with approval as he challenged the status quo of learning. In so doing, he left a unique paper trail.

We transcribed his essays. Then Andy recorded what he thought about the essays at the time. More often than not, he found little value in the literary essays and did not hold back in sharing those thoughts in print.

He then proceeded to share the background antics that don’t appear in the essays. One particular favorite antic involved convincing his fellow students to add a high value word into each of their oral essays. The teacher complimented the first student on the use of the word. By the third student’s oral report, the teacher suspected that a jokester had inserted themselves into the scholastic ritual.

The high school English teachers left commentary and feedback on many of the assignments. Andy’s favorite center around, “You’ll need this skill in the future.” To which, Andy inserted his ’20 years later’ counter arguement that, “No. No, I didn’t.”

The Value of Such a Family History Book

Many genealogists love finding love letters exchanged between their war bride and soldier progenitors. They celebrate journals filled with the highs and lows of daily living and spiritual experiences.

Through Andy’s poems, essays, and literary critiques, the commentary of his teachers, and his reflections on the past, my children catch a glimpse of their father as a teenage academic rebel. They begin to question the value of their own scholastic assignments and find ways to insert quips into their individual assignments.

You can leave a similar legacy for your posterity. Plus, you can FINALLY throw out those old papers since you have preserved them in a more lasting book!

Be inspired to turn your essays into a family history treasure

How to Fail English With Style
Order this book on Amazon.

After you’ve read Andy’s book, How to Fail English with Style, you will know that family history projects can be extremely fun. Use his inspiration to create your own comical perspective on life. Then come back here and share a link to your works.

In your attic, garage or closets you might have papers from your school days. Considering turning these papers into portions of a memoir before you toss them out. #memoir #downsizing #declutter #familyhistory #writingtips
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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