A Question about Your Research and Your Genealogy Legacy
Newsletter reader Shirley R. posed a question that I’d like to send out into the genealogy blogosphere; she writes
I worry sometimes that the hours and hours I have spent on my tree in Ancestry will be something that will just fade away when I pass. No one in my family will think of accessing it.
I’ve been thinking about her question since the day her email came in and while I don’t have a definitive answer, I can share what feels right for me.
Here are my thoughts:
First, I don’t own a lot of family “things”. I do have my mom’s teacup collection and my aunt’s huge box of letters. I have some family photos but not as many as a lot of genealogists. As far as the papers – census, images, wills, Civil War records . . . I’m banking on most of that being online at some time in the near future. That means I’m not going to worry too much about it.
I did end up with my mom’s wedding dress as well as my grandmothers, but I gave both of those to my sister. I know her daughter, Jen, loves old things so I’m pretty sure that Jen will hold onto them when we’re all gone. A genealogy legacy passed along to one who cares – now that’s something special.
So I don’t worry that much about the things or the papers, but what does concern me are the stories. That’s one of the reasons I was so happy to teach the Storytelling course for Family Tree University. I don’t think there’s anything more important than saving family stories – and the only way to do that is to get them out of our memory and into a form that others can access.
(Tell Your Ancestor’s Story Bootcamp ran in February and hopefully will be back later in the year)
Little Stories Can Keep Your Genealogy Legacy Alive
If you peruse through this site you’ll find several instances of “little” stories. They may be a memory of an Easter dinner in the 1950s, being at my aunt and uncle’s farm, traveling with my mom to Arizona, etc. None of the stories are earth-shaking but each is one that lives only in my head.
Because my brother and sister are older than me, they hold stories that I can’t remember or never knew. They can remember my grandfather, I cannot. They remember family reunions in Lone Jack, Missouri. I do not. Vicki remembers the hollyhocks that lined Grandma’s walk. I do not. But as I hear stories, I try to save them as best I can.
Sometimes I save stories via a blog post, sometimes a note in my genealogy software, sometimes on Pinterest, and other times in audio recordings. The point is, I’m trying to save what’s really important – my memories.
What Are Your Plans for Saving Your Genealogy Research?
For me, the most important thing I can save are the stories. I don’t want them scattered to the winds when Im’ gone.
But beyond that, I’d really like to know: What’s important to you to save? Have you made plans to hand-off materials? Or are you hoping that someone younger will come along and inherit your passion for family history?
I encourage you to leave a comment on this post. Please share what’s important to you to save and how you plan on doing that. Thank you!