I worked in academic archives for almost 20 years, and I know how the documents of history are collected. Mostly, “those four guys over there” decide that their work is important and they put it in boxes and give it to someone.
And those documents are how we write history.
If I sat down with you, and you told me about your history, and we talked about what the women in your family did, and you told me about how your mom made it through domestic violence, how your family came to this country via a different route than Ellis Island, what happened when there were no heirs to carry on the family name, or what the transition from farm to city was like in your family, that story would be unique. And it should be saved.
There are lots of paths to the present. And the only stories we can tell about our present and how we got here are the stories that “those four guys over there” decided that they wanted to save. You can certainly find musicians, or women, or even lefties that collaborate on growing a collection of papers. But the documents of history are only collected by, and saved at, large institutions — when someone does make an effort. Until now.
What I think is important is this: telling the stories of the real history, and what’s really happening on the ground — for two reasons. First, because it helps families feel grounded and kids feel confident to know their family narrative (stories of hardships, and the coping skills that got everyone through, are particularly strengthening). Second, because the story of history will never be thick enough.
To get started passing your family history to your own kids, I have a handy guide to get you started. Dinnertime Family History gives you five prompts to talk your way through the school week about your generation and your parents’. Get your free guide OVER HERE and start tonight!
If you’d like to do more, I can walk you through it, researching and sculpting the perfect interview questions, conducting the online meeting/s with up to four attendees from anywhere with online access, and ensuring that you have multiple, accessible copies of your results. You’ll know more about your family and yourself, and you’ll have another tool in your parenting toolbox, too! Read more about it here. Reach out to have a conversation about Capturing Oral Family History: Angela@AngelaLTodd.com