Who’s Preserving Your Family Memories And History?
BY KAREN L. RANCOURT
“We really should record Aunt Dora sharing her personal experiences. After all, she is the last survivor or her generation.” Like Dora’s family members, many intend to preserve their family’s history and traditions to share with current and future generations, but they never quite get around to doing so, or are not sure how to proceed.
To help translate good intentions into action, below are some ideas for preserving one’s family history and memories.
Start with the family tree
An obvious way to start is with a family tree, because at the very least, filling in the limbs and branches gets the basic relationships in place. There are lots of templates available online to put a family tree together, such as the easy-to-use and share, and free ones offered by genealogy expert Kimberly Powell or by My Heritage.
Organize family photos
Many families have boxes of disorganized family photographs. For those who want to do this project themselves, Google “how to organize family photographs” for lots of do-it-yourself (DIY) ideas. For those who find going the DIY route too daunting a task, there are professionals available to help get the job done.
One example is photo organizer Isabelle Dervaux, who provides an explanatory short video clip. Another example is Alice Garik, who specializes in telling family stories through photography. (For other resources, Google “professional organizers of family photographs”.)
Record oral histories
Oral family histories have become popular. For example, David Isay, the CEO of StoryCorp, explains in a heartwarming TED Talk how over 100,000 people have recorded their stories, stored by the Library of Congress, comprising the largest collection of stories ever recorded. StoryCorp now has an application available, described as a “digital facilitator,” for immediate use by family members to preserve their stories and histories.
Grandparents, often less busy than their grown children raising children, may be the ones to initiate some discussion by asking family members the question: “Should we be doing something to preserve our family’s history, memories, traditions, and memorabilia?” If there is interest, a logical next question is: “What might we do?” Again, the grandparents may be the ideal ones to volunteer to do the “heavy lifting” to implement whatever ideas emerge from those family discussions.
Time is of the essence. Aunt Dora will not be an available resource forever . . .
Karen L. Rancourt, Ph.D., writes an advice column for parents and grandparents at Mommybites.com and is the author of Ask Dr. Gramma Karen, Volume II: Savvy Advice to Soothe Parent-Grandparent Conflicts.