Have you ever found a very old family photo album, perhaps in your grandparent’s house, and had no idea who the people in the photographs were? Sometimes no one remembers who they are, and a part of your family history is lost forever.
One of the most frustrating things about finding old photos or old albums is the lack of information in them. Often there is nothing to identify the photos. No names, no dates, no locations.
One way to keep that from happening with the albums that you create is to take the time to journal in them. Today, creating photo albums has become an art form known as scrapbooking. These scrapbooks are more than just photos on a page. They are family histories, meant to be handed down from generation to generation.
Journaling is important for several reasons. First of all, it will provide valuable genealogical information for future generations. Secondly, journaling is a way for you to make sure the stories of your life and your family’s life are persevered. Also, it allows those with whom you share your albums to look through them without having to have you narrate through the entire album. They can take their time to browse through the album, enjoying the photos and reading the captions and stories.
What do you need to journal in your album? You need to have acid free, permanent pens that are created for scrapbooking. It’s important to choose these types of pens because they are photo safe. They will not damage the surrounding photos as time passes. You may want to have pens in a variety of colors or just black. The colors you use, however, are not as important as getting the words on the page.
At the very least you should write identifying information associated with your photos. This would be people’s names and who they were in relationship to you. It could be as simple as “My cousin Jack White, “our neighbor Bill Smith,” or “my co-worker and good friend Jill Jones.” Identifying people with a little more information than just their names will be helpful to those looking through your albums. Other important identifying information would be dates and locations.
In addition to identifying information, many people choose to go further in their journaling. They tell stories that go along with the photographs. These can be short paragraphs that highlight what was going on or entire pages of written memories.
If you’re new to journaling and unsure how to fit it into your album, try some of these tips:
Lists are great to put in an album instead of just straight paragraphs. For example, if you are doing an album for a toddler you can make lists of their favorite things – food, books, toys, tv programs, songs, etc. and sprinkle them throughout the album where there are blank spaces.
Ask others to write in your albums. Get your kid’s dad to write his point of view of his fourth birthday party. Have a friend you took a trip with write her thoughts on the trip.
Use poems or quotes that are appropriate to fill in some blank spaces. Have a little white space left on the page of Halloween pictures? Find a cute pumpkin poem to fill it in.
Whether you choose to simply write in the important identifying information or go a step further and tell stories with your albums, journaling will make your albums more personal. It will also leave future generations with valuable information that they will be grateful for.