You know that story you tell every Thanksgiving that makes everyone at the dinner table laugh so hard they cry? The epic pranks your dad played every April Fool’s Day? The photo of the first time you took your kids to meet Santa and they were petrified? The family vacation that has withstood the test of time as your all-time favorite? These stories and memories are some of your most prized possessions, but without taking the time to preserve this family history, future generations may not be able to enjoy them. Following are three quick steps to ensuring your greatest moments live on.
Step One: Identify the Stories
The first step to preserving family history is to make a list of the most important stories you want to preserve. Here are a few ways to help this process:
- Talk to Family Members – Set up a family get-together or a fun family Zoom if you don’t live close, and include multiple generations from your family tree — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and maybe even old neighbors and family friends who also have great memories to share.
- Search Family Documents – Look for old letters, travel documents, school papers, art projects, vacation postcards and anything else that documents your family’s best moments and fondest memories.
- Search Family Photos and Videos – Dig out those old family photo albums, home videos, and old shoe boxes filled with old photos.
- Genealogical Research – Do genealogy research and possibly discover distant relatives in your family tree who might also have great stories to contribute.
Step Two: Document the Stories
Once you’ve determined the most important stories, get out your video recorder and have fun retelling them! There are different steps for preserving and sharing your history, depending on the type of memory you’re creating.
- Record Interviews with Family – Set up for video interviews to capture the stories in a location that best speaks to your family history, such as a grandparent’s home, your lifelong family home, or another nostalgic place. If you need to record distant relatives, consider screen recording on a video call service such as Zoom.
- Digitally Preserve Family Documents – While there have been advancements in storage boxes for safekeeping, digital preservation is the most secure and provides an opportunity for sharing the memories you’re preserving. You can use a high-quality scanner or take photos of the documents on your mobile device to digitize them.
- Digitally Preserve Everything Together – Gather up those old family photos and home movies you found, along with the new video interviews and digitized documents, and send them into a digitization company like iMemories. Their team of experts will digitally preserve everything together and make them accessible for viewing on any device. You can also easily share them across the miles with distant family members, and order copies of your newly-digitized memories on DVD or USB.
Step Three: Share Your Stories
With your stories now recorded and preserved, consider how you want to organize them for sharing now and with future generations. Instead of a random collection of photos, videos, and stories without clear identification, organize them in a chronological timeline so future generations can understand how the stories all fit together. The iMemories app allows you to easily organize and label everything after digitization. Another way to organize your stories is with a digital family tree, with each photo, video, document, and story linked to the family member it’s connected to.
Our stories, memories and favorite moments are some of the greatest gifts we give ourselves during our lifetime. Taking the steps to collect and preserve that family history ensures it’s there forever, bringing joy and smiles to your children and future generations. Those future generations will be deeply grateful that you took the time to preserve and share these family treasures. To take it to the next level, consider choosing an annual holiday when you and your family members will revisit your stories, watch the final digitized product, and reminisce all over again.