Lessons from the Seminar~ Preserving Your Family History
One week ago today I attended my first genealogy seminar. It was a birthday present from my husband and since I am not usually comfortable attending these types of things alone, I was a little nervous. I attached my "First Families of Montgomery County" pin on my sweater, picked up my briefcase and walked into the meeting place, knees shaking a little. As I signed in, I was happy to receive a folder filled with handouts from our speaker that would cover all four of his subjects for the day, along with many interesting product advertisements and notices regarding upcoming events. Seated with others who already knew each other well, I introduced myself and passed out a few business cards. I investigated the many "door prizes" on the table and kept my fingers crossed that I would win something, but I had my eye on that "Fold3" membership. Then, the long anticipated meeting began.
Our speaker was Curt Witcher, senior manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. What an interesting and knowledgeable speaker he is. While I enjoyed all of the sessions of the day, I have to admit the last subject was the biggest wake-up call for me. The title of this topic was This I Believe - The Urgent Need to Record Living History. Curt discussed the amount of records that are being eliminated or even destroyed by governments and public entities and how we need to become proactive in fighting to stop these practices. But, just as importantly, we need to record our own family history. Many records are no longer being kept and with social media and text messaging, the art of letter writing is quickly diminishing. I have written about this in previous blog posts and I have vowed to make it a point to continue mailing cards and letters as often as possible. But, Curt had something even bigger in mind. He challenged all of us to write 1000 word essays about our ancestors and about ourselves. What we write now may well be the only historical records our descendants have to learn about their family history. He encouraged us to write journals about our typical daily activities and we discussed as a group writing letters to our children and grandchildren as a legacy to leave behind. It was a valuable time of sharing ideas and I am grateful I was able to attend. Even though I didn't win any prizes, I took away some new and exciting information regarding research, products, and new subjects about which to write.
In conclusion, let me challenge YOU to begin to write your own family history. It doesn't have to be an epic and it doesn't have to be 1000 words. Just start a little at a time and write about the family members and events you remember; your mother, your father, your grandparents. Write about favorite vacations or traditions you have on holidays. There are inexpensive journals that you can purchase at discount stores or you can type it on your computer, print it out and put it in a notebook. Even if you just write one sentence a day, start it today and make your story, your legacy. I am certainly going to try.