The Importance of Capturing Family StoriesFrederick J. Goodall
Over the past few years, I’ve been researching my family’s history. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck. I’ve only been able to find information about three previous generations of my family. I thought I was doing well until one of my friends told me that she can trace her family’s heritage to 35 generations.
I didn’t get serious about learning my family’s roots until I had kids. By then my grandparents and several other relatives had already died. I found some information on online resources, but they could never replace the interaction with a real person.
I wish I had spent more time talking to my grandparents when they were alive. They could have told me several stories about their parents and grandparents. Most of all, I would have loved to learn about their lives.
Since I cannot talk to my grandparents (they died in the 80s), I’ve made a point to spend time with their children – my aunts and uncles. Most of them are in their late 60s and 70s and I want to make sure that I get to hear about their lives while I can. They’ve taught me more about my family’s history than I could have ever learned on Ancestry.com.
My uncle told me how his grandfather narrowly escaped a lynch mob in rural Louisiana. He also told me about his experiences in Vietnam. I had never heard these stories before. If I hadn’t asked him about them, they may have never been revealed.
I’ve encouraged my children to interview their grandparents while they have the opportunity. My father-in-law told my daughter the story of his mother’s carrying a refrigerator across the kitchen. His mother was only 5’2″ and weighed a little over 100 lbs. My daughter was totally impressed by her great-grandmother’s strength and was eager to learn more.
I love to watch my children interact with their grandparents because it gives me hope that our family’s stories and legacy will be passed on to the next generation.