You’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and money tracing your family tree. Not to be morbid, but have you thought about what happens to all of that when you’re gone? Don’t leave things to chance. Here are 5 ways to preserve your genealogy research. Continue Reading
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:
- Everyone has a story.
- Stories, letters, etc. add color and context to our genealogy; they can also help us with ideas for research. (See my posts "Don't Burn Your Family Letters When You Declutter" and "How to Preserve Old Letters.")
- World War II letters between George Miller and Mabel Poth — all 18,000+ images of them!
- In your research, record why you were looking for someone.
- Find a method of recording stories that you will keep doing. If the method you chose doesn't work for you, try something else.
"The best thing that you can do is to do."
How do you preserve your family stories and living memory? Share your method in the comments below.
In the past couple of years, there has been an shifting emphasis in genealogy/family history. Momentum has been building around capturing not only the names, dates, and places — the cold, hard facts — about our ancestors, but also capturing their story. As Lisa Alzo put it in her presentation on writing your family history at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, “You may have a family tree as long as this hall, but what do you know about any of those ancestors?” Curt Witcher talked about the importance of story in his keynote at RootsTech 2011. It’s the story that engages people.
In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Skype, and texting, it’s easier than ever before to share our stories. But how do we preserve them?
That’s where a new website called 1000memories comes in.
At 1000memories, the emphasis in on sharing and preserving stories of ourselves and our ancestors. It’s a place “to remember everyone,” as co-founder Jonathan Good describes it. It’s free to register and free to use. If you can type, you can post photos, stories, documents, sound clips, movies — anything that will tell a bit about who that person was.
You might be thinking, “Hey, I can do that on my blog or on Facebook. Why do I need 1000memories?” Unlike your blog or Facebook, 1000memories is working to preserve the material forever. (And as Prince sang, that’s a mighty long time.) They’re serious about this. 1000memories takes extraordinary measures to keep these materials safe. (One thing that isn’t mentioned on that page is their partnership with Internet Archives, the group that gives us the awesome Wayback Machine among all sort of other preserved digital material. I told you — these folks are serious!)
So how easy is it to share photos and stories? At the FGS conference, I stopped by the booth for a brief demo. I had not tried to post anything prior to talking with Michael Katchen, so I was starting from square one. Michael showed me how to login via Facebook, which took all of about 10 seconds. I could see all of my Facebook albums. All I had to do was choose which album and then click the photos I wanted to import into 1000memories. I chose this photo of my grandparents:
Within a couple minutes, I had imported that photo, created a page for Grandma, a page for Grandpa, and started the frame of a family tree. It really is that easy. I was hooked. That afternoon, I skipped sessions at the conference, and went back to my room so I could upload more photos from my laptop. I added more photos, and typed up a quick story about my great-uncle Harold.
Since then, I’ve gone back through some older family photos that had just vague identifications on them. “Great-Grandma Young and her children.” Considering that she had 10 children, I needed some help on the specifics. I emailed the photo to my Dad and he identified everyone. I cannot wait to get more photos and more stories uploaded.
Pages can have different privacy levels. For example, you can make pages for deceased family members open to everyone (only registered users can add to or edit the page) , but set pages for living people so that only invited people can share content or even set it so only invited people can view the page.
1000memories makes it so easy. All of my cousins can go on any of the pages I’ve created and add their own photos and stories. I’m the youngest of the grandchildren, and I know that my stories of Grandma and Grandpa aren’t the same as those of my older cousins. Now we have a way for all of our stories to be shared and preserved.
I plan on writing more about 1000memories in the near future. But the site is so easy to use, you really don’t need a lot of tutorials to get started!
Michael Katchen of 1000memories will be a guest on GeneaBloggers Radio this evening at 10:00 Eastern.
You can also watch co-founder Jonathan Good’s presentation at the 2011 TEDxSF.
Disclaimer: I attended the “Engaging Your Family in Genealogy” breakfast panel at the FGS conference. However, I can honestly say that the free (small) glass of orange juice and the rather dry cheese danish did not influence this review.