The following ideas are only the beginning of practical and creative possibilities to capture and catapult stories forward for future audiences.
Those in hospice care understand the depository of the heart. Some mysteries will be answered. Some will remain unanswered. Some will open old wounds. Some will heal.
The Gathering of the Tribes
Narrative Transport (N.T.) Oral History. N.T. is a theory used by psychologists suggesting that stories told through generations do more than present a picture. Telling of stories by our elders adds a dimension of respect thus an element of memory and recall. Take advantage of family gatherings of all kinds when by the touch of a button, history is recorded.
Local, state and national libraries and historical societies welcome family stories and collections. Explore The Church of Latter Day Saints, the Library of Congress, search Family Tree Magazine and Cyndi’s List for hundreds of outlets to find and place stories, and of course visit Ancestry.com to uncover all kinds of links to your lineage. Don’t disregard past newspapers, magazines, historical novels, or organizational documents that recorded in detail elements of a family history.
Written communication still rules! For centuries stories have resided in attics and basements, trunks, bibles and boxes. Uncover them. Bring them to life. These treasures tell of a time or place revealing story and context. Read through the letters, cards and Christmas letters filled with family specific information. Look at dates. Do the math. Save a younger generation’s e-mails (if they still use e-mail). Transcribe old diaries and journals. They are already hieroglyphics to the present generation. (Hint: There are websites that help decipher early script.)
Others are saved in music and song, art, poetry, and dance. Think about the traditional holiday favorite, the Nutcracker, or opera, nursery rhymes or the rap of our present day artists. Take your teens to Community Story Circles, Slams, and Moth-type events.
The Joy of Photos. Or not.
We’re horrified when we hear that a photo album was tossed because no one could identify the characters. The ever present Kodak curse (my term). Toss with great discretion. Pass onto family members, museums or historical societies. Take time to capture who and when. Look for clues.
From Analogue to Digital - Old Movies / Video / Records / Radio
Talk to experts regarding the latest digital format. Always retain the original. You never know when a new technology will appear on the scene. Don’t disregard vinyl. It was the recording technology of an era that if destroyed will be lost forever. I can’t say enough about radio – good radio that is.
Senior Living Environments / Funeral Homes / Cemeteries
Millions of the ‘greatest generation’ are left in the care of others. Consider resident histories taken at the time of admission and on-going stories told and recorded during their stay. Many offer new stories prompted by their peers or when collections of residents are compiled. After a loved one has passed have the family inquire into accessing resident and activity files.
Funeral Homes and Cemeteries websites archive stories told not only by families, but strangers who may have been touched by a loved one. At funeral services, ask someone to record the stories during the eulogy.
Private or Published
Who is your family historian? Many families have a genealogist or storywriter in-house, but don’t know that a 4th cousin twice removed living halfway across the world is tracking your family history. Reach out and compare notes. Begin your own family book. Is there a published book in which your family name was referenced with an attached story?
Where to begin in an ever evolving sea. Device d‘ jour | Zoom | Skype | The Cloud | Photo collection sites | Family Websites & E- Newsletters | Video | Insta Gram | Twitter | Facebook | Google Play.
TV, Documentaries, History Gathering Initiatives
The popularity of programs. Finding Your Roots | Who Do You Think You Are | Genealogy Roadshow | Generations Project | Family Tree | Ancestors in the Attic | Faces of America | Long Lost Family | An American Family | Stories We Tell (2012) | Story Corps
Organizations | Associations
How do you round out your professional networking? National Storytelling Network | Story Circle Network | National Memoir Writing | What groups do you belong to?
We cherish books, photos and video, but what other unique and lasting creations could tell a story? Link up with artists in your area to creatively design other keepsakes like quilts and calendars.
Memory loss is a hallmark of many present day life-robbing diseases. Gone are the details of memories that at one time were easily accessible. Neuroscientists, biologists and neurologists are pioneering research in the study of brain research, memory and storytelling. Professor Susumu Tonegawa suggests, “that even if a memory seems to be gone, it is still there. It’s a matter of how to retrieve it.”