Today’s Tip: Capture Stories, Stories, Stories ….. but don’t call it ‘oral history’ 🙂
Simple tip today that you all are most likely doing already, but if not, PLEASE be sure to capture as many individual stories as you can for your tree! They add the reality to the facts, figures, documents, and dates.
As my cousin Peter said when he was begging me to keep working on this aspect of our family tree, “stories capture the true cultural identity and heritage of our families. They tell WHO we are and WHY we are.” Peter is SO right!
I also well recall an evening one Thanksgiving a few years back. We were all gathered around our dinner table and talking about times past. Both my children were there and they began to tell stories of their favorite family times. I was SHOCKED! They did not speak of the expensive vacations. They did not speak of a single material item or gift. Rather they told stories of special times when we were doing something small together, but that was crucially meaningful to them! It taught me a wonderful lesson and made me a story fanatic!
I now make certain I spend some of my genealogy time each week focused on story gathering. Yep, every week!
Also, I learned the hard way (if your relatives are like mine) do NOT call it ‘oral history’. When I used this term at first, I was met by deafening silence and a complete and total lack of response. Too much like work? Too much like school? Too macabre (as in ‘quick, tell me a story before you die’)? I am not sure, but I can tell you from my experience, Oral History was DOA!
Not the case when I simply asked for ‘stories’! Everyone has a story to tell. Most of us love to tell a story now and again. We just need to know someone is listening and I always assure my family ‘the website and tree are listening’!
So each week, I pick a theme. If a holiday is close, I use that. If a special day is close at hand, I use that. A momentous birthday (21, 50, 90, etc) I use that. Folks like to help with a theme and it makes it easy to harken back to a birthday, a vacation, a holiday, a family gathering, cooking, cleaning, school, playing hookie, getting in trouble, helping out, etc. By using a theme idea, the stories came much more freely! Not everyone helped out, but lots more than the zero with my Oral History attempts!
Now I attach these stories to the teller, any family member mentioned, etc. A wonderful piece of the tree now.
The cultural fabric of our tree and site is getting much richer than before! And the stories are wonderful, heartwarming, educational, and hilarious at times!
Stories also add a personal touch! They are not just history, but a personal piece of history as experienced, recalled, and retold by that family member. It is their history! Their being! Their donation to the family!
So go get ’em! Stories, stories, stories! There cannot be too many as we go …..
Onward To Our Past!