Friday, June 7, 2013


In the past folks would write things down - important events like births and deaths - in the family bible and future generations could read them, see the handwriting of their ancestors, feel connected.

In the past families would be buried together in the family plot at the family churchyard and future generations would come on Decoration Day to gather with cousins and talk and share stories and compare family traits.

In the past pictures would be taken on special occasions and put into frames or albums and labeled with names and dates so future generations could see where they got their freckles or how tall their uncles were.

In the past folks would write down stories and publish them in hardback books that would sit on dusty shelves for years or maybe centuries and someone generations later would discover them and could just pick one up and read it, using only their eyes and mind.

Nowadays information and pictures and books are all on the computer or floppy discs or CDs or flash drives or memory sticks or e- or i- devices where future generations can… uh… wonder what these gadgets are and wish their family history didn't stop in 2000 when great grandpa got a computer. They will find and hold and read all the old classic books and wonder why folks stopped writing books around that same time.

What do you think? Progress? Or not?

The digital age is great - just take cameras for example - no more buying film or processing film and paying for prints. Now you can take as many pictures as you like - it's free! You can edit them and enhance them and delete the ones you don't like, and save them and… then what? Do something with them! You might get a computer virus or a hardware glitch and whoosh! Everything is gone. And even if nothing happens to them, they are stuck there in the machine, forgotten, never to be seen again.

Computers are great, the internet is wonderful for looking up stuff, sending messages etc., temporary stuff, but the long-term storage use?

And what about all those things you are saving onto discs now like precious family photos and important information - what is going to happen to it…

kind of like all those ballet recitals and school events that you lovingly recorded on VHS tape in the 1980s

and the trip around the country in the 1970s photographed with slides

what about the old home movies from your childhood in the 1960s that your dad used to show in the living room with the lights out using the movie projector and a sheet hung on the wall

So what is the answer? What to do about this rapidly changing format for storage of pictures and info?  Every so often do we need to pull out the old stuff and upgrade it to the new format, keep doing this over and over, as new storage is created? Is that the answer?

Is it too late for some of that stuff, are the old 8 mm home movies too deteriorated from being stored in the damp basement, or did you lose some pictures in a house fire, or maybe you inherited albums full of photos but the only people who can identify them are long gone. Don't let this happen to you!

The Washington Post has an interesting and timely article about doing something about it, NOW. One of the ideas listed is to use one of the online book making websites like Shutterfly or Blurb:

"Choose a focus for the book, perhaps zeroing in on images from a particular period of your life or one specific place you lived. Then write long captions related to these photos, sharing personal observations and details with future generations."

I like this idea - it accomplishes several things at once - old photos are identified with dates and names, and right along with the pictures - the family stories are told and recorded in print - and it is in a tangible form that can sit on the coffee table or gather dust on the shelf, to be brought out and passed around whenever families gather, and best of all to be found one day by a yet to be descendant who can say, "This is my family!"

1 comment:

Debbie Jones said...

Great idea. I have been making my blog posts into books, so that we have a running record for each year. My children love to look at these. I truly make preserving family memories a full-time job, so looks like I will have plenty to do when I retire! Thanks for sharing this!