Without journaling the photos on your scrapbook pages will lose their meaning over the years. As memories fade, the pictures no longer hold as much value by themselves. Journaling is simply telling the story that goes with the photographs. It can be as concise as a date and title, or it can be long paragraphs that share your thoughts and feelings. Here are three things you can do to make your journaling better:

1) Write from the heart. Journaling that tells how the people in the photographs felt, what they heard, smelled, saw, and enjoyed is journaling that completes the story found in those pictures. On your next scrapbook page, ask yourself these questions: Why do I love this picture? What was special about that day? How did I feel when I took this photo? Use the answers to help you improve your journaling.

2) Use a poem or quote. Sometimes you just cannot come up with the best words to use on a scrapbook page. At those times, it could be that the best words are not your own. Try using an excerpt from a poem or a quote that applies to the photos.

3) Use fonts sparingly. I love all the fantastic fonts that are available for scrapbookers, however, a common mistake is using too many on a page. Stick to just one or two fonts per layout, to give your pages a clean and cohesive feel.

Journaling Your Memories by Your Family Legacy

In preserving your family heritage, journaling is the addition of written details often done to compliment a picture or document. The most common kind of journaling is noting the names of people in a photograph, but as easy as this is, there is one all too familiar mistake made here – the habit of referring to people in relation to oneself. You may have already encountered this in your own quest to discover the identities of people in old photographs even when someone went to the bother to include names, such as “Great Aunt Claire, Mom, Dad, and Sis.” You may find yourself asking, “Whose Great Aunt Claire? Whose Mom and Dad!” The frustration can be maddening, so always use first and last names. Remember that journaling isn’t just for your own reference but for future generations who may not know who made the notations. Of course the paper and ink you use should be archival quality and you should avoid writing on the actual photo or document. Journal next to, beneath, or on an adjacent scrapbook page. Include dates, names, events and any other details you may know.

Think of journaling as telling a story – write down the sort of things you say when you show someone your scrapbook or genealogy collection. Perhaps an ancestor was a privateer during the American Revolution, or a blacksmith who fashioned his wife’s wedding ring himself out of gold he panned in the Black Hills.

Journal notations are the perfect way to hand down family lore too, noting of course that they may not be fact. You may note that the tree in the background of a photo was where a known outlaw was supposedly hung, or that an ancestor was the first to suggest to Abraham Lincoln that he go into politics, or that the family home in the last century was thought to be haunted. You may wish to dedicate the first page or first section of your heritage album or notebook to family stories and lore. Don’t be afraid to include family superstitions since they say so much about the times, including our own.

Of course journaling doesn’t have to accompany pictures or documents. You could keep your own journal of your daily life or take a notebook along to genealogy libraries, cemeteries, and record rooms of private libraries, anywhere you go to do your family research, and jot down your thoughts, ideas, questions and theories. They may help you in future searches or give clues to genealogists researching your family a hundred years from now.

Journaling with More Speed and Ease Pre-writing the Key to Faster and More Satisfying Journaling By Joanna Campbell Slan

Pre-writing is the act of planning for what you will eventually write. Much of pre-writing has to do with collecting and organizing your information. One of my writing teachers once explained that by pre-writing you cut your actual writing time in half. I think you can actually save more than that by having information at your fingertips when you start to write.

Let’s go through the steps of the pre-writing process:

Collect your information. Carry a Tyvek envelope with you on trips. (Tyvek is that indestructible material they use to make mailing envelopes. If you pick up these envelopes from the post office where they are free for priority mail use, you could also mail them home if you get overloaded.) Toss in memorabilia such as brochures, postcards, ticket stubs and so on. Debbie Mock from Memory Makers magazine also slips receipts into smaller envelopes in date order. Re-tracing her steps is made easier by checking the places and dates on the receipts. If you are confused about where you were on Monday, and you know the date, a look at the restaurant receipt may bring the whole day back into focus for you. One problem with this: When I looked at my receipts from Egypt, they didn’t do me much good because I couldn’t read the language. You might want to jot a note on the receipt as you tuck it away-in your language or one you can decipher!

File your information. Files that work for me include topics like pets, family, parenting, kids, poems, sports, and trips. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find in the newspapers and magazines when you start to look. Cool quotations, cartoons, art, facts, and studies all help round out your journaling. So, when I found the perfect poem about parenting, I tucked it in to a file and used it as the basis of pages to explore my relationship with my son. A photo of a doll cake reminded me of cakes my grandmother used to make for us. A cartoon with a plaintive dog will give me art to copy on my light table to illustrate “Who let the dog out?” the chant we hear at all the Rams games.

Sort your information. Use page protectors to sort your collected information. When I have the photos developed, I throw the ones I want into a page protector, along with paper, embellishments, and then pull the information I’ve collected. (Sometimes the information comes after the photos, and then there’s little need for filing because everything goes in a page protector.) Having all my pieces in one place makes getting started on pages easier.

Make notes as you work on the page. Scribble them on a scrap of paper that you can tuck in your page protector. Often as you work with memorabilia and photos, old memories resurface. That information surfaced at a key moment, and you want to keep it with the material that triggered it.

Create your page layout, leaving room for SOFJ.

Sit down and write. Typically, I’ll have four to six layouts done when I sit down to write up the journaling. Because I always compose on computer, I simply stack up the pages and write my journaling for each one. I print out rough copies on regular computer paper. I compare the print outs to the spacing on the page. Then, I adjust for margins, color or spacing. When I’m happy with my results, I print out the journaling on archival paper. Because I’m writing for many pages at once, I waste very little paper. Often I can put two or three journaling blocks on one sheet of archival paper. With that in mind, I group together the journaling that will go on cream colored paper and separate it from the journaling that will go on white paper. If you don’t want to use your computer generated journaling boxes, you can still use your computer to compose your journaling. Afterwards, hand letter your journaling onto the page in the space you’ve saved.


I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that journaling takes effort. I write for a living, and some days I sit down to journal and think, “This is like eating my vegetables. I’d rather be eating dessert, thank you.” That said, today I ran across an old handout I’d written for a journaling class. The handout included a humorous anecdote about my son-an anecdote I’d totally forgotten. I marveled at the story and thought, “Thank goodness I wrote this down!”

Yes, writing family stories can take time and energy. But so does everything worthwhile in life. As time passes, you’ll return to the pages you made with complete journaling on them and recognize how precious they are. After all, it’s the stories about your family that make your pages unique. Without our stories, we just have photo albums. For most of us, our goal was memory albums, and those demand a little more of our time and effort.

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