HISTORY: Recorded

Throughout history, people have recorded their lives. Some write, others save newspaper clippings, old photos, or documents. They all tell a story about a life lived and remembered.


My grandma is a 93-year-old british war bride. I’ve always enjoyed sitting with her, listening to her stories, and looking at the various pieces of history she has saved over the years. A postcard from the Mauritania–the ship on which she sailed to America in 1945, a newspaper clipping from the local paper, written when she arrived in Montana, or a collection of recipes she has gathered throughout her life. They all tell a story about her. She saves it all in manilla folders stuffed into a filing cabinet.



I was born in a small town in Eastern Montana. I don’t remember much about it, but during my last trip home, my mom brought out boxes of photos, clippings, and other bits of memorabilia. I spent an entire evening going through that stuff, trying to remember things I’d forgotten long ago.



I have a box. It’s labeled Memorable Stuff, (creative, right?) I’ve been adding to it since grade school. I also have photo albums and journals I’ve been keeping for just as long. In addition to the photo albums, I have boxes of prints and negatives. I love having this proof that I existed, but there are two problems.

  1. It takes up a lot of space
  2. Losing all of it is far too easy. I’ve misplaced boxes while moving, and lost papers to water damage.

2013-06-07 12.04.29


It’s 2013. I recently moved, and in doing so, realized that I posses far too much stuff. My garage is currently buried in boxes. Some of it is junk, but a lot of it is paper that documents my history.

My mission this summer is to bring the history of my life into the 21st century by putting all of it in Evernote. By modifying the note creation dates, I should be able to compile an accurately documented timeline of my life, similar to what my grandma and my mom have, but with a much smaller footprint.

The entirety of it is overwhelming, so my goal is to take a chunk of history each week and get it into Evernote. I plan on merging these paper documents and photos with my journal to create a complete story of me. It’s definitely not something other people will want to read, but it’s something I will enjoy looking at years from now. And when I have grand kids, instead of digging out boxes, I’ll be able to open Evernote on whatever device is current at the time, as evidence that my stories aren’t just the crazy rumblings of an old man.

The Plan

Honestly, I haven’t thought it out in detail. Beyond breaking it up into weekly chunks, I don’t really know exactly how it’s going to pan out. So I’ll share as I go. If you want to play along, grab your boxes of history, and keep me posted with your progress.

Once the initial back log of memories are stored safely in Evernote, I’ll follow up with the easiest ways to keep everything current moving forward.



2 thoughts on “HISTORY: Recorded

Add yours

  1. I’m on a similar quest. I started a few years ago with a stack of journals I’ve kept since the mid-1970s — first on loose-leaf paper, then in wordprocessing files, then in a succession of Daytimers, then on my Palm Pilot….
    Anyway, I worked through putting all all this stuff in Evernote a bit at a time. I tried to do one month of real-world journal entries each day, although there were times when it was more like each week. (And to be honest, some weeks went by without any progress besides keeping up current daily entries.)
    I made one note for each day. I didn’t bother changing created dates, I just titled them “Journal YYYYMMDD AAA” for example “Journal 20130722 Mon.” To that note I pasted in any electronic resources I had (i.e. appointments, to-dos, or personal journal entries), and attached scans of anything I had on paper (i.e. Daytimer sheets, journal entries, etc.)
    Some things are dated only by month or year, so I also have notes like “Journal 20130700 Jul” (July 2013) and “Journal 20130000” (year 2013)
    I completed entering all my journals about a year ago.
    Today my Journal notebook has 14.073 notes. Now I’m working on all the “memorable stuff” (good phrase!). I, too, have lots of boxes of this stuff, and I’ve been going through them, scanning and attaching.
    The Journal notes give me a framework of pigeonholes into which I can put all this stuff. Notes from a meeting on May 26, 2003? Journal 20030526. Ticket stubs from that movie we attended on December 20, 1998? Journal 19981220. The appointment letter for my current job, dated August 13, 1980? Journal 19800813.
    A couple of photos from a family vacation sometime in June 1971? Journal 19710600.
    I have scans of my birth announcement, old report cards from grade school, immunization records from my infancy (thanks for saving them, Mom!), and all kinds of memorabilia. I even have a scan of a lock of hair from a boy I was in love with 30 years ago, who later became my husband.
    Like you, I don’t intend to share any of this stuff with anyone else; it’s just for me.
    So yes, it can be done. And yes, IMHO it’s worth doing. One of the things I love doing is pulling up these notes from this day 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, etc. (when it gets too far back I have so few daily entries that I have to go by month).
    What makes it all work for me is the one-note-for-each-day concept. Plus the fact that Evernote can search text inside photos and pdf documents. That’s how I found that 33-year-old appointment letter I was bragging about a few paragraphs ago.
    Being a little obsessive-compulsive can’t hurt, either. 🙂
    Good luck on your odyssey!


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