The Holiday Season is Here
I write this, reworking a post from two years ago, just before Thanksgiving. We are in the weekend for preparation before what we affectionately call Turkey Day in the U.S.
I do not want to add to anyone’s stress levels, but beyond setting up your tech to record the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and purchasing the bird or beast, cranberries, or munchies and booze for the ritual meal, game watching I suggest that those of you who will be celebrating the holiday as a multigenerational event give a few minutes of thought to preserving family stories beyond snapping a few phone pics.
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Example link: gifts for bloggers.
Does your family gather all together as often as families once did? I suspect your answer is, “No.” Each gathering becomes more precious as their numbers lessen. Get those pictures or capture those stories now. You will not be sorry.
The original concept behind this article was 17 Ways to Capture Legacy Stories. I am not sure there were really 17 specific actions in the post. There might have been more or less.
Never-the-less, I have boiled down the piece into specific items:
- Hire a videographer
- Hire a photographer
- Enlist the help of others
- Set up a camera with video capabilities
- Set up several recorders to capture conversation
- Line up someone now to transcribe your recordings before year end
- Recruit specific persons to casually interview elder family members
- Recruit family members to take photos of or selfies with every person at the event
- Determine where you will download everything to one place immediately after the event
- Consider hiring a personal historian to create a coherent story from the stories and pictures you collect
- Purchase flash drives to share what you collect — I recommend bundled purchases of multi-gig drives
- Set up files of images, documents, letters, whatever you have and put it all in one folder on your computer, tablet, or cloud storage and then copy that folder onto each of the drives you purchased
- Have old photo albums out to generate stories and reminiscenses
- Have individuals use adhesive-free notes (use bond paper or slicky static-charge notes) notes laid out by photo albums to mark the pics of which they would like copies
- Set up an online group, such as a Facebook Group, for your family and show people how to use if, it they do not know
- Buy a digitization device such as a scanner (get one that connects to different types of devices so that you can plugin other family member’s devices, or use your high resolution camera with a tripod, or in a pinch you can even use your phone and a tripod
- Sign up for a digitalization service for photos, such Fotobridge, or Legacy Box, or give such a service as a gift
- Create a book from the pictures gathered at the holiday celebration and give copies for gifts
Detailed Info On Capturing Stories
There are wonderful companies out there who help you record a short interview with a grandparent or elder member of your family. Have one made, you will be glad you did.
There are ways to do this yourself. In this age of selfies, and self-produced video, though, there are wonderful, fairly easy, and straight-forward ways to capture moments with and stories of people you cherish.
Whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, and Birthdays and beginning/end of the year celebrations and observances are all appropriate. Take advantage of the opportunity that is people you love gathering together.
- Hire a videographer. How much did you spend on your wedding video? Capturing your grandmother and aunts talking about significant events that they shared may be even more important down the line to you than your wedding day.
- Hire a photographer. Professional candid and staged photos in a home have a warmth that studio photos are extremely hard pressed to capture.
Keep Everyone Busy
- Enlist the assistance of other individuals to capture these moments. Have a way set up before the event, so you can tell people where to find the results, to share what you all have captured.
- Have a tech savvy teen take several good selfies with every person at the event.
- Have the same tech savvy teen also capture portrait shots of every person there.
- Set up a camera with video capabilities in a spot with good overall vantage to capture a meal or after-meal story-telling and have it record the meal or time period.
- Set up phones or recorders in several spots to record audio.
- If there is a budding journalist or writer in the family, enlist that person to interview individuals about a specific topic.
- Help less experienced information gatherers by providing one topic about which you would like for them to have a conversation with each person.
- You might also ask “the interviewer” to come away with one thing from each conversation which they found more interesting or surprising.
Most phones have the ability to record audio. Most electronic phones and tablets have had apps created for them which also allow you to record and even edit. Let people know you are recording to capture family stories and then leave a phone or tablet in various places where people will sit and tell stories. Most people will forget that they are being recorded or warm up to the idea within a short time.
- Do not promise transcriptions of the recording. Transcription is a skill that is time consuming and can be quite difficult and frustrating. Hire a transcriptionist if you want printed versions.
- Save and bundle the recordings together, transferring them off of the devices on which they were made. Do this immediately after the event.
- Jot down times and time stamps when especially good stories or important were shared so you can easily find and work with particular bits of audio.
- Put all the data, photos, recordings, etc on a thumb drive, memory stick, or flash drive.
- Give one drive to each family or person as a gift.
Share Print Versions
Every other community business seems to have digital print services that include creating books from your images. If you give digital versions, individuals can make their own print copies, of course, but it is a nice touch to provide print versions to elders that may not be able navigate the ins and outs of contemporary technologies.
Many social media platforms also allow you to gather and print posts in book formats.
Hire a Personal Historian
Personal historians provide slightly different, more carefu.lly crafted services than photographers. The individual can collect information from family members at the gathering (not all personal historians do this), curate information you have shared, and determine how to follow up with individuals to gather more and missing information.
Consider contacting schools and programs with instructors and leaders who might encourage students or participants to contact your family members for interviews.
- Anthropology, history, and other social science classes often encourage such projects. So do scouting and youth groups. This is especially good if you hear a story from a relative that you feel should be explored in more depth than you are comfortable pursuing.
- National organizations, such as Story Corps, also facilitates and records personal histories and interviews. And there is a Story Corps APP you can download for most platforms so you can add your stories to the world database of personal wisdom.
A website or even a Facebook Group (probably with secret or closed membership) can be set up before or after your gathering for sharing family information.
The best sharing happens when clear guidelines are set up and shared before the group or site becomes active.
- Define the type of content to be shared.
- What is appropriate to share? Photos, genealogical information, family stories? Facts only? Opinions welcome?
- Is the information shared on the site to stay on the site or may things be copied and shared elsewhere?
Outlining basic guidelines for participation will help to prevent misunderstanding that are almost certain to pop up when families come together online or off.
There are as many ways to collect family and community legacy stories as there are individuals doing it.
If you do this, we would love to hear how it went, what you found out, and what you suggest for others wanting to curate their own legacy projects.