Personal History Awareness Month – May 2023

Personal History Awareness Month has been internationally observed every May since personal historians designated it as a time to encourage more people to discover their family histories. This is important because our families have lived through significant historical moments and responded to them in their own ways, demonstrating how historical moments affect people’s everyday lives. In addition, when you preserve your family’s history, you learn more about yourself and your roots. Our family history may hold the answers to how we talk, behave, and think.

History of Personal History Awareness Month

We read about history all the time, but have you ever considered what your personal history looks like? Holidays like Personal History Awareness Month shed more light on why we should preserve our stories — ultimately, resulting in greater satisfaction with the lives we’ve led and the healing of old wounds.

Personal histories aren’t an alien concept. More people, older and younger, are telling their life stories. Personal historians often help structure life experiences and complete such projects. This growing industry is usually taken up by seasoned professionals from fields like psychology, social work, journalism, and oral history. This can be an enriching journey for historians and individuals involved in the projects. And who knows, it may also lead you to a rewarding career!

Rediscovering life stories can be very profound, which is why there’s so much enthusiasm surrounding Personal History Awareness Month. Some communities also hold public events to teach people how to document personal histories and begin their chronicling journeys. For the uninitiated, the process can start simply by collecting photographs of history unfolding, making it easier to string together a story. Similarly, many people rely on old voice recordings and letters to imagine what their ancestors’ lives might have been like.

Personal History Awareness Month timeline

400 A.D.
“Confessions”

Saint Augustine of Hippo writes “Confessions,” the first Western autobiography.

1826
The First Photograph

Joseph Nicéphore creates the first permanent photo.

1857
The Phonautograph

The phonautograph, which takes and records air vibrations on a permanent medium, is patented.

1997
“Personal History”

Katharine Graham’s autobiography wins the Pulitzer Prize.

Personal History Awareness Month FAQs

What is personal history?

Personal history refers to all types of edited life story writing. We typically see biographies or autobiographies in bookstores.

How do you write a history about yourself?

Start your story at an exciting point in your life and ensure your narrative is well-written and engaging. Don’t forget to write about your strengths and weaknesses.

Why is personal history important?

Recording your life allows you to review everything you’ve been through — both the good and the bad. It’s also an essential document for future generations.

Personal History Awareness Month Activities

  1. Collect your stories

    Collect your stories — write them down, record them, and photograph every significant incident in your life. These are great ways to record your personal history and leave something behind for future generations.

  2. Gift albums or cassettes

    Get your friends and family to participate in Personal History Awareness Month too. Help them start documenting their lives by encouraging them to keep photos in albums and voice record their stories.

  3. Talk to your family

    During Personal History Awareness Month, take some time to listen to what the elders in your family have to say. You will be astonished by the number of stories they have to share! This is a great way to get someone interested in their personal history.

5 Facts About American Families

  1. Median marriage age is at its peak

    The average American man marries at the age of 29 and the average woman, at 27.

  2. Birth rates have stabilized

    Most couples do not have more than two children.

  3. Both parents work in most households

    Six out of every 10 families have dual-earner couples, and the trend has been on the rise in recent years.

  4. Childbirth out of wedlock is increasing

    Unmarried women make up 41% of new mothers.

  5. Intermarriage is at an all-time high

    They make up for 15% of all marriages.

Why We Love Personal History Awareness Month

  1. We need alternate history

    Celebrations like Personal History Awareness Month emphasize the need for alternate history beyond the school curriculum. This offers unique perspectives of major historical events.

  2. It helps us understand ourselves better

    Personal History Awareness Month can also unlock deep mysteries within ourselves. You may discover why you talk, behave, or think in a certain way.

  3. It brings families closer

    One way to celebrate Personal History Awareness Month is by talking to family members, especially the elders. This helps bring families together and understand each other better.

Personal History Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
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2024May 1Wednesday
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2026May 1Friday
2027May 1Saturday
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