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A Genealogist In The Archives: Friday Book Review: "The Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy"

Friday, February 4, 2022

Friday Book Review: "The Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy"

Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy by Sunny Jane Morton. Published by Family Tree Publishing:
ISBN 978-1-4403-4714-6 
191 pp. 
Paperback. $19.99

The Story of My Life is set up in true workbook style. The short, fill-in style is easy and convenient for any genealogist to use. Morton even encourages readers to make copies of the workbook pages for family members to complete. Whether the genealogist is filling in the information themselves or copying the forms to send to family members, Morton presents an orderly and organized way to record family information, stories and memories.

At the beginning of each chapter, Morton provides an introduction that provides suggestions on how the pages and forms could be used. Morton suggests making copies of the forms to send to family members to fill out and send back to the genealogists to compile as much of a complete family history as possible.

It is easy to see that Morton understands that each and every family is different and she has provided special forms to record unique experiences and relationships. For instance, there are forms to record information about “Special People” who are not blood relatives but mean something to the genealogist or to the family and the family history.

Morton gives the reader permission to share only what they want in their family story. She explains we are all entitled to our own privacy and we only need to record those memories that we are comfortable with putting on paper where there is a chance others could read what we have shared.

There is a handy “Request for Memories” log sheet to keep track of family members that the genealogist has asked to fill out information to contribute to the family story. This handy log will help the genealogist know which family members they have asked to share memories and which ones they have yet to contact.

Morton follows a very well known genealogical standard of starting with yourself when doing genealogy research. There are 12 pages of forms for the reader to fill out themselves. These forms range from information on ones birth to employment and military service.

In each chapter, Morton has inserted extra sections entitled “Tips” and “Hints” which are highlighted in a dark gray color to give the reader additional guidelines in using the forms. These tips and hints also include information on how to locate the genealogical documents to collect information needed to tell one’s life story.

The forms and questions Morton includes in her book are more detailed and extensive than I have seen in most fill-in type workbooks on this subject matter. For instance, on pages 79-82 she helps the reader explore the time of the teen years and the relationship during this period of time with the persons Mother and Father. Morton even includes a form entitled “My Pet” for all the pet lovers. The last form in the book is entitled “My Legacy” and asks the question “What do you hope people will remember about you” which is a very thought provoking question to entertain. The only downside to this type of book is that it’s possible that many genealogists might feel constrained by the amount of room given to tell their story or the story of their ancestors. It is understandable that only so much room could be given for answers and using additional stationary will probably be necessary in some areas.

I particularly appreciated Chapter 9 as an archivist. Chapter 9 is the last chapter in the book and is entitled “Preserving Your Memories”. Morton talks about preserving family documents and heirlooms in a proper manner so that they are archived for future generations.


NEW Masterclass Available!

Presented by Lisa Lisson of Are You My Cousin!
When: February 8, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern


  1. What a great tool! I've been writing letters for the past two years to my granddaughter full of family stories, my story, my husband's story and lots of other stuff. It's been a labor of love.

    1. Yes, this is an awesome book. Sounds like you are doing some great family history yourself. Thank You for reading my blog.