We are always on the lookout for ways to collect family stories. Anyone who has attended one of our workshops or seminars (or read this blog for that matter) knows that we believe stories are the key to writing an interesting family history book. But the best stories aren’t always easy to find and family members we ask to share those they know aren’t always as forthcoming as we might wish. Hence our interest in how to collect those illusive pieces of family lore.
The high tech website Mashable recently described a story catching tool called Storify which will allow the user to,” Pull together content from social networks to create a cohesive story with tweets, posts, photos and videos that maintain their original functionality.” Interesting idea, but maybe not the one most family historians I know are looking for.
A friend passed along a newspaper magazine insert, American Profile, which offered an idea that relies on a more traditional kind of social networking. Stephanie Vozza suggests creating a family blog. This is not necessarily the family history blog that most people in hot pursuit of a missing ancestor might think of. It’s not about gathering data or documenting facts. It’s about keeping in touch.
A generation or two ago keeping in touch wasn’t an issue for most of us. Extended families often lived within relative close proximity to each other. People kept in touch over Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. But with relatives spread all over the map today conversations that were a matter of course don’t just happen anymore.
Vozza describes the experience of Jayne Jaudon Ferrer of Greenville, South Carolina who started a blog to which she encouraged family members to submit. Many family members have, she says, contributing recipes, movie reviews and prayer requests. “It’s a wonderful and easy way to stay in touch with loved ones that we may not get to see in person for years at a time,” says Ferrer.
What’s of interest to a family historian seeking to gather stories of ancestors was something Ferrer didn’t anticipate when she started her blog. People began conversations. They shared recollections. “We also post memories of relatives long gone,” says Ferrer, “big family gatherings that happened back when most of the original family members – our grandmother and her eight children were still alive, and family stories that have been passed on down.”
The kinds of stories that might be shared on this kind of blog are exactly the ones that will bring ancestors to life in a family history book. Give it a try for your family.
Click here to read Mashable “Use Social Media to Tell Interactive Stories
Click here to read Stephanie Vozza’s article “Creating a Family Blog” in American Profile