Here is Your Free Report
Click Here To Download Instant Genealogy
OK first thing…
You may be scratching your head thinking,”How this is possible?”. I know,
I’ve done genealogy research with online databases and its very time
consuming. Well, keep reading, the best is coming…
In his recent book, “A Life Deleted” Scott Bolzan wrote of his complete
amnesia at age 46, after a fall. His book tells of how he went from
businessman, aviator and one time NFL lineman with a wife and family to a
complete stranger to himself, his surroundings, and his loved ones.
His experience underlines something we rarely think about.
You are your memories.
Imagine waking up one day not remembering your 11th birthday party, your
college graduation, the birth of your first child, or even if you’re a Democrat
or a Republican! Yes, everything about you is based on your memories.
Besides the obvious (like remembering how to do heart surgery if you’re a
cardiologist) your memories also guide your thoughts, your feelings, your
likes and dislikes and how you react to situations.
Our memories are the stories of our lives. Everyone has these stories
whether great or small and all of these stories are valuable to those coming
behind us. They are a window to the past and a guidepost for future
generations. These stories of yourself and the people around you are unique,
valuable treasures for your family and your community.
Saving Your Family Stories In the Maine State Library there is a hand written diary, started in 1785 by
Martha Moore Ballard. For 27 years she kept a daily record of the day’s
events in the small town of Hallowell, Massachusetts. Without that diary we
would know nothing about Martha Ballard and everyday life in the era of the
She was a healer and midwife who delivered 816 babies in those 27 years.
Her diary was an accounting of a life she probably viewed as simple and
ordinary, but today it gives a personal view into a long past era with a feel
that history books cannot match.
In my own family my Uncle wrote a family history in the late 1940’s, really
just a timeline of his memories growing up. That document told of how his
Grandmother Bridget came to the U.S. from Ireland, was shipwrecked off
the coast and walked all the way across New Jersey to Philadelphia…at 14
years old! This story would have been lost to us without that simple typed
history. He was just retelling the story his Grandmother told him.
Here’s the Big Secret
Today, using video to record family stories is the best and easiest way to
capture both the stories and the teller. With the ease of video you can record
a narrative that can be passed down for generations. Here’s where 100 years
in one hour comes in.
Almost any adult is able to remember stories back three generations. You
probably have memories of stories from your parents and grandparents. I
personally can relate family stories back to the 1880’s. These are the stories
you need to capture and save.
This is different than true genealogy in two important areas.
• First, it centers completely on the tales of your family and the
experience of hearing them from your family member.
• Second, it captures the story teller. Their voice, mannerisms, and
appearance are all saved for future generations. Instead of trying to
explain how Grandpa had a funny way of telling a story, decedents
can witness it, just like you did.
This is the focus of The Videalogy Project™ – to save and share your family
This is the fun part!
Recording the family stories can be fun and educational. You’re probably
going to learn some things about your family you never knew! Remember,
you’re also capturing the personality of your relatives.
Now What Do I Do?
First you need a video camera. Just about everything today is a video
camera. Phones, Smartphones, iPads, 35mm cameras, laptops, coffee
makers…well, maybe not coffee makers. The problem with most of these is
the sound recording isn’t very good. They can give you great HD video but
if the sound isn’t sharp and clear you defeat the whole purpose of the
Videalogy Project™ and that’s to record the stories of your family.
If you only have a phone with video capabilities, check out ebay. You can
get a used video camera for between $10 and $50. That camcorder will have
a real microphone and probably the ability to plug in an outboard
microphone. Even if the video isn’t 1080p, if the image is clear and the
sound is clear and sharp it will be OK. You’re not going to be recording
your 87 year Grandmother wakeboarding (if you do please send me a copy!),
it will be people sitting, telling stories.
Second you need a tripod. You will not get any real success with trying to
interview someone with a camera in front of your face. It will also make a
much more watchable picture with a steady camera shot. The exception to
this is doing, what we call run and gun. That would be walking around at a
reunion or family gathering and grabbing stories and remembrances as
conversations are going on. In that case, using your phone to capture a
never-before told story is fine.
Also remember, like all projects, sometimes…stuff happens. These are a few
of the challenges you may face:
• The subject is afraid of the video camera, or is concerned how they
look or sound or what they’re wearing.
• They don’t think they have anything that’s interesting to say. They
don’t know why you want to interview them.
• A relative reveals a blockbuster of a story that involves scandal or
some other skeleton in the family closet.
• The story comes out in pieces as the subject skips around, back-tracks
and then resumes the narration.
The big one will be “I don’t like how I look”. This one will take a huge
amount of diplomacy, tact and confidence on your part. I’ve found that by
talking to the subject and getting them started on story telling and then
turning on the camera works well. Just be sure to go back and get the
information they talked about when the camera was off. You can also
suggest that they think about telling their future great, great, great
grandchildren these stories just like they are sharing them now.
It’s amazing that so many people think their lives are dull and boring and
that no one would be interested in them. My Grandfather worked as a
carpenter at MGM studios. To him it was just a job, but what stories he told
about the stars, directors and executives of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s!
When I worked in restaurants during college I waited on a lot of celebrities
and people never tire of hearing about them (well, my kids do, but you
I have a theory about what I call, “One Generation of Separation”. As people
get older and time passes an incident that might have been unspeakable
years ago seems a lot less important today.
There are things I did in my youth I’ve never told my kids about, but I think
I’m going to have a good time telling my grandkids about some wild times
in the 1970’s! If you have a subject tell you a particularly outrageous story
try to get some sort of confirmation – you don’t want to start a family feud.
In this kind of casual interviewing older people will sometime ramble as
they tell their stories but don’t worry about that. That can be fixed in editing.
It’s very easy to unscramble a story and make it easier to follow.
Now let’s talk about you…yes, you.
No matter what your era is – the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 80’s – your life stories
will be the family history for future generations. Imagine their thrill when
they find out that you met a celebrity, saw the Space Shuttle land or lived
through the San Francisco Earthquake. The point is that family history is
happening every day. Did you watch Neil Armstrong step foot on the moon
on that summer day in 1969? Do you remember the great Northeast
Blackout in 1965? What movies effected, shaped or scared you? Your
personal experiences are family history.
My own ancestors were in the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War. We
have historical accounts, but imaging hearing what it was really like in the
heat of battle; the confusion, the noise, the cries of the wounded, and the
relief of surviving it all.
That same detail is what your future generations will appreciate. Your
personal observations of the events of your life will help your future family
understand their past.
Some Final Thoughts
I’ve never known anyone who hasn’t wished they started this project years
earlier when certain relatives were still around.
This is not about creating an Oscar® winning movie. It doesn’t matter how
good the equipment is that you use, it could be an old VHS camcorder or a
smartphone. The goal is to get those stories recorded.
Recording those stories is really just the first steps in saving and sharing
your family history.
Start looking around – someone in the family has the “big box of family
pictures” put away in the attic, garage or in a back closet. The interviews
you’ve collected are the perfect narration for all those photos, films, tapes
and memorabilia. Now all that family history doesn’t have to sit in a box in
the closet at Aunt Susie’s house.
Go to our website at www.FamilyTalesDVD.com and learn how to share
your family history with a family history video.
FamilyTales will teach you how to edit interviews, photos, home movies and
old video tapes on your home computer and make a video you can burn onto
a DVD and share with all the family.