On an episode of NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” Spike Lee lamented that he never filmed his grandmother to try to capture her stories of his family’s history. While you don’t need to be an Academy-award winning filmmaker to document your ancestry, it is possible to create your own family history library with a little time, effort and dedication.
Start by gathering materials such as important family photos and home movies that highlight important life events like weddings, birthday celebrations, anniversaries and family vacations. Begin organizing, labeling and creating a timeline. Collecting all of your mementoes will help you see the past through a wider lens and certain dates, events, impressions will become clear. As you gather touchstones of the past, label them with dates. A month and year is best, but even approximate dates, like c. 1954 or autumn, can help put context around an image and begin to tell the story of your family.
What and How to Preserve
You likely have gathered materials ranging from photo prints, to old films, to newspaper clippings as these are the most sentimental and tangible pieces showcasing your family history. Over time, these items can degrade, fade or become damaged or lost, ultimately denying future generations the joy of seeing a piece of their history. With the aid of digital technology combined with a little effort, family memoirs such as weddings, births, vacations, reunions, and more, can be forever preserved.
Photos and Home Movies
Perhaps the most cherished family memories are photos and videos as they provide a true look at your family’s history through images and sound. These most prized possessions, however, can deteriorate over time. Videotaped memories, for example, begin to degrade immediately and can fade away in 10-15 years. They are also difficult to enjoy, having to rewind and fast-forward to find a favorite moment.
To protect these graphic portrayals of your loved ones, transfer items that contain important visuals, such as old VHS tapes, 35 mm slides, and photo prints, to DVD. Converting this media to a new, modern format, will make certain your family’s memories will be protected for generations to come. To accomplish this, first collect the data you wish to convert.
Next, choose a recognized leader in conversion media services such as YesVideo, who offers easy and convenient transfer services from over 34,000 locations nationwide from recognized retailers including Costco, Walgreens and CVS/pharmacy.
With your family memories now protected in DVD format, it’s time to “future-proof” them. Media formats change with the times. The once popular VHS tapes have been replaced with DVD and Blu-ray. Today, people are viewing and sharing their home videos through online video sites, social media networks, and mobile devices. Technology is ever-evolving and today’s popular viewing methods will one day be replaced by a more modern format.
In order to make sure your family’s transferred videos travel with you into the future, steps to preserve them onto new formats need to be taken. YesVideo’s MemorySafe is an online digital protection solution for home movies that enables user to view, share and manage videos from your own personal video library. Videos can be shared privately with family and friends via email, on Facebook and Twitter, or on Apple’s iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices.
MemorySafe service not only provides secure, online archival of precious memories, but also offers transcoding of the digital files to current formats. This ensures that users can retrieve their content in a variety of different formats for the myriad of evolving playback devices.
Important Family Documents
Additional items that assist in preserving family history include documents like family recipes, past down handwritten letters, holiday cards, and newspaper articles announcing births and weddings. These important family records are all pertinent items when tracing and preserving your family history. Much like photo and video, these items are susceptible to deterioration, damage, and loss. To protect, scan documents and create a digital archive and properly back-up the files on a hard drive or DVD.
The key to preserving your family’s history is to actively protect any and all important items that you wish to be passed down from one generation to the other. Spend some time preserving those memories today using the digital tools and services offered from companies that specialize in such and you’ll thank yourself for years to come.
Sharleen Reyes is director of marketing communications at YesVideo.
For the last ten years, YesVideo’s YesDVD transfer service has been providing convenient services for families to preserve, enjoy, organize, share and relive video and photo memories on DVD. For more information, visit http://www.yesvideo.com.