Story Jars

What is a Story Jar?

A story jar is a decorative way to encourage a loved one to document his or her life history in writing, so it may be preserved for future generations.  Each story jar contains over 200 questions on brightly colored paper strips that are prompts to write about a particular aspect of one’s life.  The instructions on the story jar encourage the recipient to take one question out of the jar each week (or more often if a faster pace is desired) and write answers to the question.  Whether each story answer is handwritten or typed, or ranging from a short paragraph to a page, is up to the recipient.  Over time, the answers to each of the questions can be arranged by subject or chronologically so they make a complete story of the person’s life and memories.  The story jar covers many subjects, including:  family history, relationships, childhood, youth, education, career, health, faith, food, holidays, travel, home life, special occasions, feelings, hopes & dreams.  These questions go beyond the stark names and dates often collected by genealogists, and aim to put “flesh on the bones.”  You have been given this story jar because someone loves you and wants your story to be preserved.  Future generations of family historians will be extremely thankful if one of their ancestors completes a story jar, so please get started on your story jar today!

Some Ideas for Using Story Jars:

  1. As you draw each question, tape it at the top of a notebook or journal page and then write your response beneath.  Continue with the next question drawn either on the page where you left off, or at the top of a new page.  If you don’t wish to tape the questions, you can simply rewrite them at the top of the pages.
  2. Create a document on your computer where you retype the question you have drawn, followed by your response.  Over time you can cut and paste different question & answers into groupings by category or chronological order to suit your liking.
  3. Take out the story jar at a family gathering and ask each member present to answer the question drawn.  It might be surprising to you how every individual remembers the same events differently, each from their unique perspectives. Make sure you have a scribe or a digital recorder to capture everyone’s stories.
  4. Use the prompts from the story jar as conversation starters when you talk on the phone or email relatives who live distantly.  If you are also going through the story jar yourself, you could ask other family members the same questions you are answering to get additional perspectives.
  5. Keep the questions you have finished in a ziptop baggie, and when you have completed your jar, you can stuff all the questions back inside and pass the jar along to another family member or friend to keep the storytelling process going.
  6. The possibilities are endless—create your own unique use for your story jar!


How to Order Additional Story Jars:

Story jars can be purchased following these CRCGS programs and meetings held at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock:

  • Monthly Saturday Programs (10:00 a.m. to noon)
  • Weekly S.H.A.R.E. Meetings  (10:00 a.m. to noon)

Contact us at for other purchase options.  Please note that we are unable to ship story jars.