Preserving Family Stories and Living Memory

Family history is more than a list of names and dates. It’s also the stories and memories that surround ourselves and our ancestors. I recently spoke with Curt Witcher, senior manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He shared his theories on why we should preserve family stories and how we can do it.

(If you can't see the video above, you can watch it on YouTube.)

Preserving Family Stories and Living Memory: Highlights:

"The best thing that you can do is to do."

—Curt Witcher

How do you preserve your family stories and living memory? Share your method in the comments below.

Posted: April 27, 2016.

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    • True. But if I have to choose between a generic word processing doc and nothing, I’m taking the word processing doc!

  • My next batch of scanning are letters and post cards between my Mom and Dad from 1935 or there about and through campaigns in Nicaragua, Guadalcanal, and his subsequent maneuvers during peace time in the USMC. A box in my brother’s possession. Did you accomplish the scanning alone? I’d like some alternative ideas because right now I’m staring at a similar sized box with most of my Dad’s military orders and documents (from the Great War!) from 1918 through 1956.

  • Amy, I just found this page on Facebook and saw the picture of the lady with the little girl sitting together looking at books. Can you please tell me who the lady in the picture is? Both my wife and I swear it looks just like my mother. Thanks for any help you can give us.

  • My sons encouraged me to write family stories on a blog and helped me start it. I’ve chosen to write the stories of those on my direct line i.e. my ahnentafel., my fore parents: 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-parents, etc. See I’m loving this adventure and seeing the response that I am getting from my friends and relatives, they are loving it, too.

  • I started a word doc listing little memories that pop up from time to time. This allows me to go back and check with my brothers and sisters and to jog their memories to get a more complete story. This way it not only helps me but them to share stories about what happened and have a record of the events of our childhood.

  • My grandfather wrote 2 autobiographies, which were xeroxed and distributed within the family.
    My mother was a story-teller. She told stories she’d heard from her parents, and stories of her own childhood, over and over when we were kids. They are in my brain. She started to write them down before she died, on computer, and my brother may still have that; I’m not sure. I have written down many of the ones I remember well on computer.
    I have a 2 great-great-grandfathers who kept diaries, and have parts of them, one on computer, one on xerox.
    I have a scanned 2-page handwritten paper by my great grandfather about his ancestry and civil war service.
    There are many ways to keep stories going–the important thing is to find someone in the next generation who will listen and have interest. Harder to do in this world of technology.