The mission of Legacies is to - Rescue History.
Where many clearly see the value of writing their story, the story of a loved one or family - the third stage of the Legacies model, the earlier stages of organization and research are just as important and integral to the process.
Some clients come to the organizational step literally from the ground floor, hauling out the boxes and sitting on the floor or at a table sorting, tossing, identifying piles of documents and photos without names or dates - chaotic and disorganized. One individual didn’t know he had an entire box of one family line for he had never opened the box that came from “Who knows where.” Another, after years of feeling inundated, now has her family lines numerically filed for easy access as further research and writing begins. “I now know what and where the information is. It’s heaven having all my archival tools at my fingertips. I didn’t know there were systems to get me organized.”
How often have you thought of attacking the boxes that shouted for your attention? How often do ancestral faces call out to be identified, recognized, and brought into new light making them part of your storytelling? How often has the task seemed so overwhelming that you’ve given up, replacing the cover with a regretful “Later.” Yet, like a horror story, the voices continue to call out for you to take the first step, before it’s too late.
Researcher Beware. I hate to be the naysayer about all the online research and DNA excitement of today’s craze but this current trend reminds me how easy it is to jump on a bandwagon, wanting the prize without doing the hard work. Most don’t realize that there are many inaccuracies in the data and only a small percentage of information is available online even though thousands of documents are added daily.
Like Dorothy found in the Wizard of Oz, the faces and names, dates and most importantly, stories lie closer to home, within your own backyard, the fading images in family archives, libraries, historical, genealogical societies and museums, state/county/local resources, family interviews, churches, military, newspapers, letters, postcards and postmarks - - all play a role in liberating nuclear and extended family narratives.
Years ago, a quote crossed my desk. One has to be a certain age to remember actress Loretta Young (1913-2000), but I believe she was quoted as saying, “Elastic is the curse of women.” In other words, once we moved into elastic and expanding clothing, we’ve lost touch with our true size.
This may be a stretch (excuse the pun), but storage bins and spaces are the bane of those trying to rescue and preserve their history. It’s easier to put it away in an ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ plastic bin then explore what treasures may lie within. “When I retire and have time,” or “I’ll get to it this winter,” are common mantras. I’m not suggesting that we not use (sorry for the double negative) today’s storage possibilities for they protect items from moisture and deterioration. But consider organizing and adding a Pedigree Chart - a GPS for genealogy those who don't know - Aunt Greta from Grandma Cora. You are the the present family history window to the past. Donald Hall in Essays after Eighty reminds us, “Someday, no one will remember what I remember.” You are the bridge from the past to the future generation. Help them find their way back in time.
Each generation takes a turn unraveling and revealing more of their family history. Each generation has first-hand accounts, access to different technology, new abilities to record and preserve, but no matter your competence, take the time now, before it’s too late.
Legacies can help you rescue your history. The Making of a Family Historian classes begin this fall. Join a global classroom for dynamic discussion, lifelong learning and family history making.
Face-to-Face Zoom 17 Week Series begins October 2, 2019. For descriptions, schedule and downloadable and online registration visit: http://www.legaciesstories.com/classes.html .
UW-Fond du Lac | 5 Weeks | September 17 – October 15 | 10:00 – 12:00 | https://ce.uwc.edu/fond-du-lac/catalog/the-making-of-a-family-historian.
UW-Milwaukee Osher Institute | Setting the Stage – October 2 | Organization – October 9, 16, 23, 30 | Research – November 6, 13, 20, December 4, 11 | Writing – January 6, 15, 22, 29 | Production – February 5, 12, 19, 26 | https://uwm.edu/sce/program_area/osher-lifelong-learning-institute/
The STORY Expert.