History is Lost

"When an Old Man Dies, a Library Burns Down"

     I love to learn more about my ancestors! Of course, I am saying this later in my life, when I have personally become an "ancestor" to my 5 children and twenty-three grandchildren. How I wish that I had asked more questions of my grandparents, or other living aunts, uncles, or other relatives when I was much younger! So much information could have been been written down for my posterity to know of their heritage. The old African saying "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground" is so relevant to family history work. The heritage of our past is very often lost because we fail to preserve it.

The other day I was thinking about my paternal grandfather. I knew that he had been a "Special Agent" for the Southern Pacific Railroad down in the Tucson, Arizona area, but I didn't really know what his occupation entailed. So, out of curiosity, I went onto Newspapers.com and searched for him by name and location. I found a good fifteen or so newspaper articles about how he was called to investigate different robberies, property vandalism, and so forth. He even translated for a non-English speaking French woman whose husband had just died of a heart attack on the Tucson, Arizona railroad station platform. He had served in France during World War 1. I collated all these articles into a single PDF file and shared them with my siblings and my children. I looked like a great family history researcher to them, and they were amazed at my "finds".

I don't know much about my maternal grandfather, except that he was the Vice-President of the Pacific Fruit Express. I have a lot of photos of him, but my memories of our visits with him are filled with him either working in the yard, or napping on the couch. We lived at the opposite end of California to my grandfather, so we didn't get to visit often. Wouldn't it be great if all the grandchildren (who did live by my grandparents) began to write down 3, 4, or ten short memories about him? Those memories could be shared onto FamilySearch and soon a larger "story" would begin to emerge about his life. "Family History" is truly a family affair when it comes to preserving their heritage.

This weeks challenge:

1) Begin to write down a list of memories that you have about an ancestor.

2) Look through your family photo collection if you are having difficulty remembering things. I find that this is a great help in kick-starting my brain for this.

3) Pick a memory from the list and write down one or two paragraphs about that memory.

4) If there is a photo about the memory, then put the two together and share them with family members.

5) Additional Activity

a) Log into FamilySearch.org.

b) Find the person's information page that you would like to add a story to.

c) Under the "Memories Tab", click on the icon "Create a Story", paste in your paragraph text, and upload the associated photograph (if you have one).

d) Save your "Memory/Story".

e) Don't stop there yet however! There is a "Share" button that allows you to create and share a page link to send to all the family members you can think of. Who knows, they may also get into this activity as well, and ALL will benefit.

     For more information on creating stories, please check out our website. Creating Stories and Have a Family "Discovery" Activity

Happy Story Building!