The Great Thanksgiving Day Listen — Let’s Do This!

The GreatThanksgiving DayListen graphic

Make Family History With An App From StoryCorps.

Can I just say that this headline from today’s Personal Journal section of the WSJ had my attention at first glance? It’s this article that has drawn me to sit down and try to reach as many as I can about the potential this simple, yet powerful App could be for all of our family histories. You can read the article written by Geoffrey A. Fowler HERE. Today, as I have barely finished my first cup of coffee, I am bursting at the seams to pass it on.

Time for Listening

Can I add my own challenge for the upcoming Holidays? This app is free. Let’s all download it and make a point to interview one or more family members.  Don’t let it wait for another holiday or think that you will see Grandma so-and-so at Christmas or at least next year. Let’s all take a few minutes out of our busy lives and sit in a quiet room with a family member, look in their eyes, and ask a few questions.

 

Be ready to listen – really listen. You might find that you have given them the biggest gift ever – the gift of your time. You might also find that you have given yourself the best gift ever.

Legacy

Anyone that knows me well, will tell you that I am all about family history. I love the research, whether in a library amongst all the wonderful books, or online while at home still in my workout clothes. I love the family photos that just beg to have their own stories told so that precious snippets in time will live forever. And, I love to uncover family stories that pull all my research and photos together into a powerful legacy.

StoryCorps

This app, from StoryCorps, might take your upcoming holidays from typical family get-togethers to something that just might live on forever. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to bring families together and this is the Year of #TheGreatThanksgivingDayListen. You can read the story behind it HERE.

Options

Why am I so excited about this particular app? I’m always looking for ways to make the storytelling process as easy as possible and I have downloaded several very promising apps hoping to find one that allows me to either publicize it to the world or most importantly, keep it for my own archive. Most apps upload to one central online archive and are only available in a public format. This app has my attention because I can choose whether I want it to be public or stay private. This one has “options” and as my husband always says, “It’s nice to have options!”

Library of Congress

StoryCorps has been recording family stories since 2003 and they are all “recorded and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.” This app is a spin-off designed to allow even more people to add to this rich archive of personal/family stories and now we can all join in the fun!

Sharing

The main point of this app is to upload our family stories to be kept within the Library of Congress, but I must say that the biggest turn-off of using some of the other apps was the fact that I didn’t have a choice to keep it private or share it publicly. I know that the idea behind this is to eventually share our family stories for others to listen to, but the feeling of losing control of my story or my family member’s story was enough to delete the other apps off my phone and never use them. Most likely, I will end up sharing all the family stories that I am able to record but it will be at my choosing – and I like that.

#TheGreatThanksgivingDayListen

Let’s all participate in this exciting event!  Then please share with me your thoughts. I would love to hear them and together we can discover more and more about the power of what this app from StoryCorps can do to help our own LifeStories live on.

Want some more inspiration? Try “Reality hits — Talking with your older generations just can’t wait!

 

Reality hits – Talking with your older generations just can’t wait

Interviews_CanvaCan I ever say it enough that we all need to talk to our older family members? I’m always telling others this, but it wasn’t until I wrote out a simple Tweet yesterday that it hit like a bullet just how important it is to interview our older family members.

 

I started out casually browsing through my Twitter feed and came across a tweet that took me to an article posted on Crestleaf.com’s Blog titled, “Breaking Genealogical Stereotypes: Interview with D. Joshua Taylor.” You can find the entire interview here.

 

I have listened to quite a few talks by Mr. Taylor and of course have been watching him on Genealogy Roadshow so it caught my attention. In the article, Crestleaf asks what is important when interviewing relatives.

D. Joshua Taylor responds that you ask the person:

  1. Who was the oldest relative you knew,

  2. Ask them about their childhood, and

  3. Ask them to give you a memory about yourself.

 

These are three wonderful interview questions and ones that we all need to jump on sooner than later. While I am still a newbie at Twitter, even though I have had an account since it started, I responded back with this:

 

“Thanks goodness I took the opportunity to interview as many of my elderly relatives early on. They’re all gone.”

Now, staying away from judging my tweet for its brilliance or lack of, this short couple of statements stopped me for a moment after I hit “send.” You see, I had make the attempt to talk to all my elders and my husband’s older family members several years ago – within the past fourteen years. Why specifically “fourteen?” That’s easy. My mother passed away from non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2000.

 

Suddenly, she was gone. Way before that we had even had discussions on what she might do if she outlived my father. And now my mom was the one that was gone. Always planning on having her around until she was past her eighties, she was gone at age 70. With her went all the stories of her past that I vaguely knew about but never had asked specifics.

 

I’m terribly sorry to be such a downer in this writing, but sometimes it takes a shocker like loosing a parent to jolt you into action. Lots of good came from this loss of my mother  because in a way, I might not have thought too much about trying to interview all my relatives. What’s funny is that I probably wouldn’t be in the position that I am today with my family history research if she had lived a long life. I wouldn’t have felt the need to get those interviews.

 

What would I have missed? My great-aunt on my father’s side described both of her grandfathers and gave me quite a few details about her own father, my great-grandfather. I would have never had these details by simply searching through records and books. They wouldn’t have told me that all four generations of Julian men, including my father, were very focused on work. They worked long hours to the point that family time was cut short, but they all felt a great need to push themselves to finish what was at hand. They needed to get the job done.

 

Of course I knew this about my father, but after talking with her, it all suddenly made sense. And it made even more sense when I looked at myself and my brother with this knowledge. What I had held as a slight grudge against my father for always working, became something that was bigger than him – it was “in his DNA” as you might say.

 

Lots of other priceless stories came from these interviews, too many to tell all at once. But the striking thing about this is that they are all GONE. Every last one of them has passed away. Can we take the chance to not get the family stories written down somewhere for the future?

 

Finding out about your family’s history and their stories, gives you a foundation to live on.

So, my advice this time is to not fret about getting all the questions answered at once from your older family members. As Nike says, “Just Do It!”