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As we continue our series on personal history, let’s focus on recording your childhood and teenage memories. Here are some ideas to get you started talking or writing about these years. You don’t have to tackle all of this in one sitting. Feel free to spread this assignment out over several weeks or months. Try to set aside a little time each day for recording your stories.

Early Childhood (Birth to age 12)

Where were you born? Tell everything you know about your birth.

What is the earliest memory you have from your childhood?

What are your favorite memories from childhood?

What are your first memories of your mother? First memories of your father?

Describe the house you grew up in. Describe the neighborhood/surroundings. If your family moved around a lot, describe the various places where you lived.

Tell of a time when you got into trouble as a child.

What was your favorite activity/pastime?

What was a typical day for you? Tell a typical day at various ages.

Describe the clothes you used to wear.

What jobs were you assigned to do as a child?

Describe your siblings and your relationship with them.

What is the scariest thing that happened to you when you were a child?

Did you have any illnesses or surgeries as a young child?

When did you start school? Where was the first school you attended? Did you attend a private or public school?

Describe your memories of school.

Describe your favorite and least favorite elementary school teachers. What are your memories of them?

Who were your friends in elementary/grammar school?

What did you do for lunch every day at school?

What was your favorite recess activity?

What was your favorite subject in school?

Did you like to read? What were your favorite books?

Did you have a favorite food as a child? What foods remind you of your childhood?

What did you do during the summertime?

Did you learn to play a musical instrument? What talents emerged when you were a child?

What TV shows or movies do you remember from your childhood? What is the first movie you saw in the movie theater?

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What family traditions do your remember?

What were your favorite holiday traditions?

What family vacations/activities do you remember from your early childhood?

Was your family religious? If so, what religious traditions, celebrations or ceremonies do you remember?

Teenage Years (age 13-18)

Describe your memories from junior high and high school.

Describe the schools you attended.

In what ways were you different from other teenagers? In what ways were you similar?

What were your biggest challenges?

What school activities/sports were you involved in? Clubs or organizations?

What was your favorite subject?

What did you do for lunch every day at school?

What grades did you get in school? What subjects did you get the best grades in? Worst grades?

Describe any boyfriends or girlfriends you had. Who was your first crush? First love? First kiss? First date?

Describe your first date and your dating experiences in high school.

Describe your favorite and least favorite high school teacher.

What did you do after school every day?Dashboard-of-old-car-[669x469]

When did you learn how to drive? Who taught you how to drive? What cars did your family own? What was the first car you drove? Tell about the first car you owned.

What mischief did you get into as a teenager? How did your parents react?

Did you have any illnesses or surgeries?

Describe your first job and other jobs you worked. What did you do? What was your salary? What hours did you work?

Did you attend any dances as a teenager? What did people wear to dances? What kind of music did you dance to? Where you a good dancer? What styles of dancing?

What was your favorite music to listen to or sing? What are the songs you remember? Name one song that takes you back to your teenage years every time you hear it. Who was your favorite singer or musical group?

What was your favorite TV show or movie? Who were your favorite movie stars?

Compare technology from your teenage years to technology today: cars, phones, radio, computers, etc.

Compare your experiences as a teenager to teenagers today.

What was going on around the nation during your teenage years? What pivotal events in history took place during that time? Were you involved in any of these events?

Describe the friends you spent time with during your teenage years.

What person had the most influence on you? For good or for bad?

What did you do on the weekends? Saturday? Sunday?

What did you do during the summertime?

What family vacations/activities do you remember?

What holiday or family traditions do you remember?

Take some time to describe all of the relatives and family friends who were present during your childhood and teenage years. There may not be many recorded stories or details from the lives of some of these people. Tell everything you remember about them:

Mother, father, both sets of grandparents, great-grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, close family friends, etc.

(This article is the third installment in our Personal History Series. Follow the links below to read the first two articles.)

Starting Your Own Personal History: Why You Should, and How to Start

How to Start Writing Your Personal History: Begin With Your Favorite Stories


Read the final two articles in this series:

Personal History: Documenting Your Adult Years

How to Store and Preserve Your Personal History