The Importance of Sharing Family Stories
Genealogy shouldn’t just be about names and dates plugged into an online family tree. It’s easy to get caught up in the dry, factual work of family history and spend hours searching for dates, names, relationships, cities, timelines, religious ceremonies, and other pieces of information that will help you flesh out the branches of your family tree. All of these factual leaves and branches are incredibly important, of course, and shouldn’t be neglected. But if that’s the only thing you do while researching your family history you’re missing out on some of the most colorful and valuable parts, namely the stories, the faces, the experiences of your family.
The biggest obstacle for enjoying your family history in this way can be finding or discovering these family stories. Sometimes the stories are completely lost. It has been predicted, and accurately so, that family stories are lost within three generations. What a tragedy! These family stories, the priceless work of genealogy, are so precious to your family history. Yet they can be completely lost if they are not carefully passed down. Have they been passed down?
One way is to uncover everything that exists in your family’s history. Look for journals, news articles, letters, notes, and anything else that may hold the stories of your heritage. Discovering these stories can be rewarding, and you may find that you’re related to a famous historical figure. The problem is that those resources either exist or they don’t. If your family hasn’t kept careful records of family life and stories, it unfortunately means that you may have lost those stories forever.
If that’s the case, the most important thing you can do now is to begin sharing the stories you do have – yours, your parent’s, your grandparent’s, and any other family member’s stories you may know. Share the stories with your spouse, your children, siblings, cousins, everyone you can! That is the first step to preserving your family history, and there are a few different ways to accomplish the task.
How To Preserve Your Family History & Family Stories
- Make it a formal family event – once a week or once a month sit down with your family and share stories from your childhood, or the tall tales about your grandparents. Maybe during Sunday dinner each week you can tell stories about your favorite vacation as a child or the best memory you have of your grandfather.
- Do it on the fly! You’d be surprised how many stories you can pass along simply by sharing them when they come to mind. When something happens to your children, or a particular food or smell brings back a powerful memory, try to more consciously recognize the connection to your past and share the stories with your family as soon as you think of them.
- Record it permanently. Start a journal, write a family blog, or begin typing up your personal history for posterity. Start with scrapbooks or old pictures for inspiration. You can also find plenty of personal family history writing prompts to help you begin writing about your life and family. This is the critical work of genealogy, and the part that often takes a backseat to the names and dates you search for online.
Don’t get too caught up in names and dates from other centuries, and don’t forget how important your personal family history is to your genealogy. If you need any additional help, please contact us, browse the resources on our website, or give us a call.