Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holidays Are The Time For Family Histories

Okay, I have just stated the obvious. The upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are the ideal time to reach out to family and collect oral histories. And, these oral histories are the details that enhance our family histories. So, now is the time to begin collecting memories and providing new and interesting stories to the family history. Get out there and record those memories!
There is one challenge to this mission. Keep in mind that a recorded oral history is only as good as the transcription that is made afterwards. Once you have collected that oral history, don't forget to have the tape transcribed. This is the permanent record that will entertain and inform future generations in the family. Have the tapes transcribed and edit it all into the story. Unfortunately, I have learned this lesson the hard way. I have four hours of tape from my father. It was recorded more than 20 years ago. I never had it transcribed. Today you can barely hear the voices on the tape. My father died in April and the tapes are all but lost. I am hoping I can find some magical audio shop to save it for me. But, right now it appears as though the tapes have been lost.
Learn from my mistakes. I know I have. I just finished an hour of tape with my mother. The tape has already been transcribed.
So, remember that now is the ideal time to collect family histories and traditions. The holidays are the perfect time to inspire memories.

Friday, November 2, 2007

One Peson's Trash...

I was speaking with a lady earlier this week, she reminded me of an important consideration in Archival Studies, Genealogy and Family history. We all want to remember that "one person's trash may be another person's treasure." We can never really say for certain that papers, documents, photographs, and other ephemeral materials are valueless. The information contained on these records, the records we are inclined to discard, may provide tremendous clues for other researchers.
This reminder came about as we were discussing her reserch on families in Georgia. She mentioned that, somehow, she encountered a family that was discarding papers from the estate of their deceased mother. The woman immediately went into "dumpster diving" mode and came out with collections of sports memorbilia and, more importantly, three family bibles that documented family genealogy lines going back generations.
So, as a reminder to anyone that chooses to read this, keep in mind that the documents you think to discard may be of great value to someone else. Offer up that research to some research institution or archives. Just maybe, an archives somewhere will be interested and take on the job of saving the family history.