Should You Write an Autobiography?

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A page from Stanley Genetti’s autobiography.

“If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.” ~ quote by author Madeleine L’Engle

Have you ever thought of recording your life for future generations? I’ll bet your grandchildren and great-grandchildren would treasure a biography containing remembrances and details about the times in which you lived. And if your family is like ours, with a long and detailed history, an autobiography becomes part of the family’s ancestral legacy.

You’re probably thinking “why would someone want to read about me?” So many of us believe that our everyday lives are not worth writing about. But one hundred years from now, I can assure you, ordinary lives will seem quite extraordinary to future generations. Our family stories and photos, memories, details about our home and the town where we lived, reminiscences of how we met our spouse, what we did for a living, our children’s escapades, those folksy colloquialisms that pepper our speech – all of the small details of our “ordinary” lives will be cherished by future descendants searching for their family roots.

Stanley'sBook-1

A page from Stanley Genetti’s autobiography.

I know of two biographies written by members of the Genetti family. One by Stanley Genetti of Pennsylvania and the other by Herman Genetti of Wyoming, with the intriguing title of “Herman’s Howlings: A Personal History of Southwestern Wyoming”. Both are fascinating first-hand accounts of life in America for Tyrolean immigrants during the 1900’s. Sprinkled with family stories, regional history and ancestral details, they make for very interesting reading! Unfortunately both memoirs are self-published and hard to come by. Having been produced in a limited number and usually only in the possession of direct family descendants, it is nearly impossible to obtain a copy of either Stanley’s or Herman’s autobiography.

Fortunately I have been able to locate both books. Several years ago, a copy of Stanley’s book was given to me by one of his grandchildren. I have read it many times, gleaning a good bit of genealogical information from Stan Genetti’s stories (FYI – Stanley was my grand uncle or in other terms, my grandfather’s brother).

Recently I was given a copy of Herman’s book. I had been looking for this volume for some time and had found only obscure mention of it online. Unbelievably, on a recent trip to Italy I met with a friend who is a local historian (and not from the Genetti family). He handed me Herman’s book and asked if I had ever heard of him. Apparently a copy of the original was given to my friend, possibly through someone in the Genetti family. I was amazed that at some point Herman’s book had made a long trip from Wyoming to Castelfondo, Italy and now would be returning to the United States via a distant cousin (me!). I gladly accepted the thick Xeroxed spiral-bound copy, tucked it away in my suitcase and happily returned to Santa Fe with my family treasure. I’m currently enjoying perusing “Herman’s Howlings”, sifting through the pages for genealogy info to include on our online family tree.

My hope is to one day include both of these books as free PDF downloads on The Genetti Family Genealogy Project website, of course with the permission of their descendants. If you are a direct descendant of Stanley Genetti or Herman Genetti and would like to make their autobiographies available for the rest of the family to read, please contact me at info.genetti.family(at)gmail.com. Mille grazie!

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