To write your memoirs, you probably rely primarily on your own memory. But no one remembers everything accurately. If you and your sibling compare notes about an anecdote from your early family life, you’ll likely find discrepancies with no way to tell whose description is closer to what actually happened.
But some facts are verifiable. When and where was that uncle born? In what year did that neighbor die? What was the weather like that day? What street did that friend live on? All of these details add texture to your writing even if they’re not essential to the core of your story.
Today, you can locate many of these facts from the comfort of your computer desk. Most ancestral websites—ancestry.com and archives.com are two—require payment to get to the records. But they also tend to offer a free seven-day period to try out the site. You will have to register, but you won’t have to pay. As you write, leave the dates and places in question blank. When you’ve finished the rest of your memoir, make a list of all of the people you need to research, and try to fit that research into the free seven-day period. Weather on a day in history is easy—and free. Try almanac.com, farmersalmanac.com or weather.org. Finding an old address is trickier, and your best bet for that, as well as some birth, death and marriage records, is to go through local resources. Check out the tips at howtoinvestigate.com.