The Family Archivist

On January 11, 2011, in The Capturist, by JRand
Family Archives

Family Archives

Every family needs a historian. Most families had at least one in the past; they were often simply good story tellers. The stories of long gone relatives lived on in tall tales of humor, courage, hardship and accomplishment passed from an elder to a younger.

Story telling is no longer a common pastime, or to more accurate, a potential story teller is no longer given enough time to be listened to. Children have televisions, computers, and music players for entertainment and keeping them interested with a story is not an easy proposition. The popularity of Twitter is telling of the A.D.D. times we live in. Serious (or significant) uses for that service do exist, however a recent study of the overall content determined that about 70% of all “tweets” were meaningless drivel. There is not much room for a good story in 140 characters!

If children don’t hear the family stories, many times over, they won’t be able to tell them as adults. They may not find a story entertaining enough to actually pay attention. Nobody likes to tell a story to someone that doesn’t want to listen or can’t sit still long enough to at least pretend they are listening so the story teller’s development is hampered. My own family has a habit of simultaneous talking and interrupting such that if I am damn-well determined to tell a story (exceeding 140 characters), I do so by making a toast at a family dinner and holding the floor like a filibuster. The chain of family story telling is rather fragile in a culture saturated with information and electronic media.

But put the story on your TV and attention spans are likely to increase dramatically. Not just for young people either! Today’s family historians may need to become savvy enough to compose the stories in a modern format.

Ironically this is not that hard to do and the process itself can be a moving experience for the new-media story teller. Even simple results can be powerful for all family members, young and old. But first the story teller may need to become an archivist to collect, organize and prepare the family history in words and imagery.

The organization and content of Capture the Past will hopefully evolve to become a useful resource for the aspiring family historian as well as a vehicle for sharing discoveries and debating best practices.

This site is rather new as of this writing so please feel free to post a relevant comment and help get things rolling.


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