Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A personal history is the written account of a person's life. A personal history can be an autobiography, written by a person about his or her own life, or it can be a biography, the story of one person's life written by someone else. A memoir, as opposed to recalling an entire life, typically focuses on a central theme, a particular period in life, or a particular experience. The personal history differs from the family history in that it focuses on the life of one individual, as opposed to an entire family, generation, or lineage. Anyone can write their own personal history.
The personal history is a valuable resource, allowing readers to learn more about an individual's life, experiences, and feelings. The personal history also helps readers understand more about how one person or family experienced a particular time in history. The personal history often provides inspiration and encouragement to others, by seeing how a person overcame life's challenges. In genealogy, a personal history can provide insight into an ancestor's life and one's own inherited traits, and may provide significant new information and meaningful clues for additional research. Individuals today are encouraged write their own personal history to benefit themselves and generations to come.