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At the beginning of October we had a family reunion. Now I don’t have a large family. My Mum had one brother and my Dad had a half-sister and a sister. I only have six first cousins. Compared to my husband’s family (father one of five children, mother one of six, more than thirty cousins all up), our family is tiny. And we don’t get together very often, despite most of us living within cooee* of Sydney. So my brother decided it was time to gather the clan. He invited us all to his place for a barbie** and a good catch up. Both sides of our family were invited, and we had an absolute ball! It was really great to catch up with some cousins I haven’t seen since my Granny’s funeral 14 years ago, or my Mum’s funeral 3 1/2 years ago, to meet some of their partners and children for the first time, and to reminisce.

Just a week before the reunion I received back from the Print Shop the first volume of my book about my Dad’s adventures in Europe. You can imagine how thrilling it was to be able to hold that book in my hands after working on it for so long! And to have it in time to show everyone at the reunion was an added bonus! The book is a fabulous record of his trip, using his photos and the emails he sent home, together with the diary he kept while travelling, to tell the stories. I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and eager to get on with the second half (especially as he is now travelling again, this time in the US, for a month).

In the lead up to the reunion, I also decided to make a slideshow of some old family photos. Over the years I have collected all the photos I could find, and they have now been scanned and filed away in Historian. It was an absolute snap to pull them together into an album in Historian to produce a slideshow. (If you’re interested in making a slideshow in Historian, there is a fabulous video from Shelley explaining three different options here.) What wasn’t so easy was finding information about the photos. I wanted to put them in date order as much as possible, and to add captions with the who/where/when/what/why details, especially for the younger generation who would have no idea who all these people were and how they were related to them.

Unfortunately, most of the photos had only the sketchiest details recorded on them – sometimes only a name, rarely a date or place. Some detective work had been done in the past, when I’d asked either Granny, Mum or Dad what they knew about the family, and had pieced together family stories and a couple of written accounts, together with what we knew of dates and names from genealogy research. But even then, I had almost nothing of the STORY behind these photos – what these people were like, what their passions were, how they were feeling, why they were wherever they were at that particular time. Details that make the people seem real to us now, that give us an insight into their thoughts, feelings and experiences, that help us feel connected to them.

You’re probably thinking I’ve said this before, and you’d be right, but it bears repeating – how will our children/grandchildren etc. know if we don’t record the details now? How will they know who these people in our photos are? How will they know what they were like? How will they know where these photos were taken, and why? Can I implore you – record those memories! Tell the stories in Historian to save them with your photos. Make scrapbook pages and record the stories there. Print those pages into books.

And secondly, how will future generations even be able to find your photos? Will your photos be accessible to anyone when you’re not around anymore? That’s where a Forever account comes to the rescue. I have started uploading all my old family photos to my Forever account, so that I can keep them safe and share them with anyone I choose.  I want to make sure that my family heritage is not lost, and the Forever guarantee is the best way to ensure that. I’m also uploading my important family memories in the form of scrapbook pages, so that even if the physical, printed books get lost, the memories will still be there, accessible to my family long into the future. Do you have a plan for preserving your family’s heritage? Why not open up a Forever account for yourself and one for each of your kids, and start making a plan to pass those special memories on now, before they are forgotten and lost forever?

Here are some pictures of my Dad’s book, and a page about some of my relatives on my Mum’s side.

 

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* Cooee is an Australian aboriginal word that’s used to call out to someone from a distance in the bush. ‘Within cooee’ is used to mean not very far.

** That’s Aussie for barbecue – not a specific dish, like Southern barbecue, but a meal where the cooking is done on a barbecue outdoors.

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8 Responses to Blog: How will they know?

  1. Vicki says:

    A wonderful blog Alison! For my mom’s 80th birthday my sisters and I decided to make a book with photos of her 80 years. I sat down with my mom and pulled out her old photos and told her to tell me who was in the photos and the stories behind them. Some stories I had never heard before! I wrote on the back of the photos all the details. A few months later my mom passed away and while we were going through her things we found a box with a bunch of photos that we didn’t know she had and sadly we did not know who many of the people in the photos were or the stories behind them. How important it is for us to keep these memories for our future generations.

  2. adakallen says:

    I love this blog…great job!
    I have tried to come up with whatever I can for my children to have.
    Now I am making photo albums for each of the great grandchildren for each year of their life so they have something to pass down to their children
    Again…GREAT JOB!

  3. Jan says:

    Great blog, Alison, and thanks for ‘cooee’ – I used it in WWF today! I agree with all that you’ve said – it’s a big responsibility to be ‘guardian of the memories’, but it’s one that I do willingly because it’s so important.

  4. Lindie says:

    Thanks for this. I have been working on several books. I have grandchildren books, daughter engagement and wedding, my nuclear family etc. Working on ancestor albums: boy is that a lot of work; album for my older daughter. Planning on making a digital album from the traditional of my parents’ 50th anniversary (they celebrated 63 years this year). Going back to try to remember things is quite the task, but well worth it. Thanks for this reminder.

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