Preserving family memories - top reasons to keep a memory scrapbook
Discover how to preserve family memories forever with these ideas on creating a family history memory scrapbook, by Angelyn Hutchinson.
I heard my father’s voice the other day. I cried. The last time I heard it was in 2008. It was fall when Dad died. I miss him every day. His voice sat on my shelf for almost nine years, captured on an old VHS tape that was recently discovered.
In 1990, my father set up his camcorder and videotaped his uncle Herman, the last of my great-grandparents’ seven children. Using old photos, Herman, seated beneath the cottonwood trees in his yard on a summer day, told the story of his parents emigrating in 1901 from Sweden to Cache Valley in northern Utah. He described their lives and struggles and those of other ancestors who were gone but not forgotten to him.
The details and stories that I’d never heard unfolded before me nearly three decades later as I watched the video now in my possession, and Herman’s memories became mine.
Creating a living memory
That tape, now transferred to a DVD, is what genealogists call a "living memory." It’s the family information and stories that individuals can recite off the top of their heads—but perhaps don’t conscientiously preserve or share for future generations. Dad and Herman preserved a piece of our family history for their descendants.
Many people are the self-appointed scrapbookers of their family, creating a memory scrapbook for each member of their immediate family or a dedicated webpage where select family milestones or events are highlighted, contributed to, and shared as a family. These typically include photos, videos, artifacts, and documents with fun or insightful narratives. Newer memory software invites the user to add video and audio files to help preserve additional dynamics of a loved one’s life or a family’s history.
“How many of us would be ecstatic if someone in our family had captured the living memory in our family 50 years ago?” asked Brigham Young University historian Amy Harris, who teaches about living memory in her classes on family history. Here are her top tips for keeping a memory scrapbook.
Top tips for keeping a memory scrapbook
- Make preserving memories a common practice throughout your life
- Record memories electronically, if possible using your phone or the FamilySearch memory app
- Write memories in a journal, on a specialised app or an index card. Just do it
- Interview older relatives whenever you're together, by e-mail or phone
- Jog your memory through photos, family artefacts or the FamilySearch #52stories challenge
(Article used with permission from the FamilySearch Newsroom © 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Image copyright Clever Cupcakes)