It all started with a box of old photos, images of family members from long ago. Questions arose like—“who is that” and “where were we when that was taken?” Collectively, those of us engaged in viewing the photos agreed that many priceless details have been lost forever due in part to the fact that many of the family members that could offer answers to our questions are no longer with us.
It suddenly occurred to me that over the course of three generations, much of my family’s oral history has begun to fade. It made me sad to think that my grandchildren may never hear some of the beautiful or funny stories of those that came before them. Kennedy and Holden will never laugh as the story is told of my father’s misunderstanding of where one’s pituitary gland is located, or of how Sweet Gram always threatened to sit on us if we misbehaved. They will only look at pictures of their great-great grandmother, wondering what she must have been like. That is if her pictures survive that long.
For those of us who find ourselves in a quandary over how to care for decades of family memorabilia, artifacts and stories, many questions arise. Who will care for these items for future generations, how can we share them fairly, and with respect to all members of the family? More importantly, how do we do so in a manner germane to our contemporary family and their daily digital practices?
We are at a social threshold where the tradition of oral storytelling is quickly becoming outmoded. Much of what I learn of family and friends is online, and in some cases is the only contact I may have with many of them. Who can say if that is good or bad, it just is what it is. After many discussions on the relevance of online media, Mark and I decided a great way to address many of the aforementioned questions would be to create a website for family and friends where we can share images and stories. We think it is important to adapt and present our wealth of family history and artifacts in a meaningful way for future generations to value and enjoy. I think we have addressed the issue of how to share these treasures, but may have created another issue. How long can we keep this site going and what will happen to the content when we are gone? With advancements in technology, other forms of communicating this information will make this method obsolete. For now, it seems a logical solution.
So, over the past several months we have begun the tedious task of scanning every photograph and slide we can find from both sides of the family, starting with the oldest first. Each one is being cleaned of dust and dirt, and then scanned. We are also scanning important documents such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, filing the originals in an orderly manner for future reference.
I am also conducting research through Ancestry.com and have successfully traced both sides of the family back 5 generations, with many links still to be explored. The process has proven to be very time consuming and addictive. I am trying to pace myself to ensure accuracy. What a treasure hunt it has become for me. I never know what the next click of the mouse will find.
The site is offered as a gift to you— a place for family and friends to share and experience stories and images of family members both living and deceased. I have a feeling that many may be surprised at the memories some of the stories and images may spark—some good, some hilarious and frankly, some sad. It has been difficult for me to keep this venture under wraps because I hope others will find this as special as I.
We will soon provide a method for family and friends to leave comments on post entries and images, but for now if you would like to provide a story or memory, please feel free to email it to me and I will be glad to post it. Your feedback is also valued. I ask for your patience, as the site is a work in progress. Much of what I have found on Ancesty.com is yet to find a home on the site. ~ Love, Lisa