Last year my Dad’s cousin Debbie let me borrow three journals that her mother, Mittie Lou, my father’s maternal Aunt had written. They were from 1943, 1945, and 1946. She had written in several more, but she had a fire in her home that had started in the room where the journals were, and only these three were spared by the fire. My father grew up on a family farm that his paternal family had lived on for generations; in fact they had a 99 year lease on the land. There were 19 houses on this land during various times. Many of my grandmother’s family lived there on the farm after my grandparents married. Mittie Lou was one of them, and she wrote in these journals faithfully. I was able to catch glimpses of my father’s life through Mittie Lou’s eyes from when my father was 9, 11, and 12 years old. What a treasure!! I learned so much about my grandparents, the cousins, aunts and uncles, how farm life was and about rationing during the war, and so on, and so on. Here’s a picture of Mittie Lou, with my Aunt Jane, and my father Rufus:
Lou Jane Higginbotham Starks, Mittie Lou Harris Brock, Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr.
Here is a page from Mittie Lou’s journal. We were able to use this page to locate the date information for my 2nd great grandmother, Alice Herring Harris. Until I read this, we were only able to locate her death year from her headstone.
Diary of Mittie Lou Harris, 1945
A couple months prior to getting Mittie Lou’s diaries, my Aunt Jane gave me a huge tub of old photos and other memorabilia that I have mentioned on here before. One of the things in the tub was an old diary that belonged to my grandfather, Earl Higginbotham. The diary didn’t give me any obvious clues like Mittie Lou’s had, but what a treasure to see how he lived in 1920. I was able to find out little things, like he called his father “Papa”, and his mother “Mama”, and how hard he worked on the farm. I also learned that he played the guitar, and the fiddle. Here’s a page of his diary:
Earl Higginbotham, Diary 1920.
Their journals inspired me to start keeping a journal for my children to have one day. I didn’t write in it faithfully like Mittie Lou, but I did manage to do it quite a bit. Three to Five times a week on average and I even printed out little wallet size pictures and taped them in there when I had a picture to go with what I was writing. I even wrote letters to my children that they will find some day when I’m gone. Here’s an example of my diary, I picked a page where there wasn’t journaling.
My journal from 2011
A few months ago, I became aware of Project Life from following Elise’s blog. If you don’t know what project life is, you can get the details here. Elise’s pages were amazing, and I started thinking I could sure spice up my journal this year. This year I am also doing the 52 weeks of personal genealogy, which you can find out about here. Instead of posting them on the blog, I have been doing them privately, but this got me to thinking (I know, it doesn’t happen often people) and I have decided to incorporate the 52 weeks of personal genealogy into a family history project life book. I mean let’s face it, every day I am digging up my family history, which makes it a part of my present. So I made this project life page as an example of how you can combine your present, with your past and make a beautiful treasure to pass down to future generations.
Family History Project Life - Earl and Edna Higginbotham
Here’s a digital version of this page, maybe you can see it better:
Project Life Digital Page - Earl and Edna Higginbotham
I have also gotten into the habit of printing out my blog posts and keeping them in a binder so that I have a record of the happenings on my blog. Since I am always posting things about my family, I want to make sure and not lose those memories either. I will also incorporate those posts into my family history project life.
Here’s a gander at my personal project life page:
Reynolds Family Project Life - 2012
I’m by no means a scrapbooker, and prior to this I have only used photoshop to restore old family photos. I’m here to tell you, scrapbooking in photoshop is a whole other ball game. It has taken me all day to do this one page. I’m sure I will get faster as I build skills. Part of my problem has been working around ancient printing equipment that is not really meant for this, but I managed to get by.
I want to give a big thank you to Elise for turning me on to project life. She’s given me a great way to preserve my family history, and made me realize I can make it interesting for future generations, and hopefully my kids will hang on to this stuff after I am gone, instead of burying it with me, or throwing it into the nearest dumpster.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank my Great Aunt Mittie Lou, and my grandfather Earl for inspiring me, even though they have been gone for years, their “Project Life” journals continue to impact our lives.
Stayed tuned for more family history Project life pages!