Gather By Preserving Your Family Photos, Stories & Documents
Get Your Family Together & Try Some of These Ideas
Start collecting your family photos into one location, one for your immediate family and another for your ancestors.
Begin by identifying the people you know in the photos. Those that you don't know? Time to begin asking other family members for help! Don't let those people become "nameless faces".
Create fun family or individual stories or "memories" in Family Tree.
They say that a picture is worth a "thousand words". How much better though is a great photo that has a fun short story attached to it?
Start collecting stories from your parents & grandparents. Edit the stories into individual brief "memories". Put them into Family Tree so they can be easily shared and remembered always. Unless preserved, those fun stories will be forgotten.
AND…don't forget to create and share your own memories with your posterity. There is no one better to write them than YOU.
I try to create a "photo/story" once a week about something that happened in my life, and then SHARE that memory or story with my children & grandchildren. These "memories" will be what my posterity remember me by.
View a couple of examples below that I wrote and shared to my posterity.
Pull out some of those family vacation VHS tapes and watch them as a family.
Did you realize that VCR players are no longer being manufactured? What will you play your tapes on when your player is broken, and there are no more VCRs available?
You can schedule some time at the library to watch one of your VHS tapes on our 32" screen, while it is recording your tape to a DVD.
We have equipment here at the library to help you digitize your VHS tapes, so they can be watched from any computer and be easily shared with other family members. Ask us how to do this!!
Come To The Library & Learn How to Edit Photos
Don't throw away that poor quality photo of grandpa Wilbur yet! Often, using a few simple photo editing tools, can greatly enhance that photo. We have classes on how to edit photos, but are also quite willing to sit down with you and show you how.
Hover over any of the images below to see the "after edit" look.
These images were edited with a free online photo editor called "Pixlr", using 6 basic editing tools. We have classes on how to do this, or we can also sit down with you and show you how to do it.
Interview a family member, like grandparents, aunts/uncles, or even parents.
Okay…we don't have a room quite as nice as this, but it is private and a great place to ask parents or grandparents questions about their life.
We will video record the interview, give you a copy of that. The audio will be split off to a separate file. This can be edited into separate little stories which you can then upload to Family Tree Memories.
We can help you with this at our library.
(Room coming early 2019)
Do you have any cassette tapes with ancestor interviews on them?
Audio recordings of our ancestors as they tell stories of their lives can be inspiring. These recordings become a part of them, and add to their legacy.
Can you imagine listening to a Danish great grandmother singing a primary song with her Danish accent?
We can help you digitize your cassette tape audio recordings so they can easily be played back on your computer. What a wonderful way of saving a digital file of your ancestor's stories in a shareable digital format! You can even load digital recordings up to 15 megabytes in size to Family Tree to share with others. With some simple editing you can break down a long interview into smaller "soundbytes" of individual stories.
Learn more about the importance of photos by watching this short video clip.
Create a fun video composition of a family event.
Do you have any old 8mm / Super 8mm films? Pull out the projector & screen and have a family movie night.
We have explored different options at our library to help you preserve your film movies. For now, you might think about ways to get your movies digitized commercially to preserve them. Over time they will begin to get more brittle, will warp, and such to the point of no longer being viewable.
Once you have a digital movie file, we can help you screen capture some of the "characters" in the file that can be saved as a separate photo file. I found a photo of my great grandfather in a segment of film. I had no other photos of him previously. Film can be useful for a variety of different things, but has to be digitized first.
Come to the library and we can help you with this.
Here are some other ideas to consider as you "Preserve Your Heritage"
We Live in a "Soundbyte" World
Our current young generation live life by taking selfies, video clips, and photos that they post to Facebook and other social media platforms. Do we need to preserve ALL the photos or video clips that we ever took? It we kept "everything" it would probably take years of reviewing just to get through them all. We live in a "soundbite" world, where most individuals probably wouldn't be able to sit through more than 3-5" of an audio recording or video.
Remember our 45" VHS recordings of the family decorating the Christmas tree, or our child's two hour basketball game? Think about how future generations will watch a video file. They will only want to see the HIGHLIGHTS of the event. If you have a two hour VHS tape filled with numerous different events on it, think about editing or splitting that two hour tape into the specific events. You may then want to further edit each event down to a 3-5" video clip with a catchy title. (Hint: always keep the original file in case you want to use it in the future.)
Time To Sort Your Photos & Videos
You certainly don't need 15 photos of your family dog or cat, or 25 photos of your child at their birthday party. Go through what you have and then take those photos that have a good story about them. Can you imagine your kids going through your photo collection of 9,500+ photos of your life after you pass on? You can keep them all if you like in a different folder, but try to sort them down to just a few important ones for each event. Here's something to ponder. Try not to upload photos without any description about them. In 40 years, will anyone ever know anything about that photo …or care? If there is a fun story attached to the photo, it helps us connect with it.
Sharing Videos on FamilySearch?
Videos can be uploaded and stored on YouTube for free and then the link shared with anyone you want. You could also do screenshots of the different individuals in that video, paste them into a Word document, and then label who the individuals are. The YouTube link could be pasted into the Word Document and then saved as a PDF file and uploaded to Family Tree. Anyone opening up the PDF file could click on the video link and watch it, but also know who is on the video by looking at the PDF document. Here's an example of how this works.
Did You Know that 90% of history is lost after just 3 generations?
"Facts Get Recorded … Stories Get Remembered"
Lots of Regrets / Got Started Too Late
Stories connect us to our ancestors. There are so many times that I wish I could know more about my great-grandparents and their lives. Luckily, my father had written down some of his memories about his grandparents and shared them with his family. I created a "memory" about my great grandfather using the story that my father had written about him and posted it, along with a photo of the huge train engine he drove, on Family Tree. (I love trains! See story HERE) If you clicked on the link, you will have seen how easy it is to SHARE these Family Tree "Memories" (stories, documents, photos, audio) with other family members, especially to our young posterity. I had seen photos of him before, but the STORY helped connect my heart to my grandfather. We can never underestimate the power of a story!
"Feeling Connected" Decreases Children's Mental Health Issues
Stories are also a wonderful way to "Connect" to our heritage. The more we know about our heritage, the more we feel a part of "something" on a grander scale. A study that was completed in 2001, 2 months before the 9/11 tragedy found some interesting findings. "The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned." “The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said. (Article published in the NY Times, March 2013, titled "The Stories That Bind Us"). As a family, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to share these stories of their heritage with them, and by so doing, strengthen them.
Most of us have numerous brief memories about our grandparents. Can you imagine what would happen if each grandchild (our cousins) added just one short story about their grandparents? Soon there would be numerous stories posted that add a greater perspective of this grandparent. Just think about the great-great grandchildren (and beyond) that are now able to read, listen to, and learn about this "distant" ancestor. We can't let the legacy of our ancestors just die away over time. Those stories need to be preserved.
Apps That Can Help Us
Did you know that the mobile FamilyTree App for both Android and Apple phones has the ability to record a digital story of a relative and post it directly to Family Tree? With so many of our youth having these smartphones, wouldn't it be great if they could start recording real life audio stories of their parents and grandparents? If you have not tried this app, do so, and have your children and grandchildren show you how it works!
Have you thought about how you are going to preserve your ancestor's heritage, as well as that of your own family? This is one of the reasons for the Church to emphasize why it is so important to "GATHER". There are many different reasons for preserving old photos. They show the life events of our ancestors, what they looked like, what they may have enjoyed, the homes they lived in, and many other facts. Through old photos I have identified the existence of young children that were not listed in Family Tree nor on Census Records, having died between those census years. Through photographs of friends that my great grandmother had in her albums, I have made contact with descendants of those individuals through Family Tree. Many of these were not LDS, and ecstatic to have the opportunity to see photos of their ancestors. What is so sad is to see those old albums sit on shelves or in boxes in the attic or basement, never to be shared, with an increasing number of "nameless faces" being stored there as our parents or grandparents can no longer remember their names.
How about those old family slides many of us have in our possession? I remember the days when we pulled out the screen and slide projector to watch slides of our family camping trips and other life events. Those were fun family times. Even better were the old 8 mm movie films that our family had of us making funny faces, jumping and swimming in the lake, etc. Those slides and movies told about our life stories. There are unwritten stories in those slides and movies that we need to tell before we are no longer able to do so.
Many of our families have stored their family's life events on VHS tapes that also sit on shelves seldom looked at, and slowly degrading over time. Since July 2016, the last VHS machines have no longer been manufactured. Very soon, those life stories will no longer be viewable by the next generation of our posterity. The time is NOW to save the video history that is on those tapes, while there are machines still around to view them. We can help you with this process. Just ask us.
Facebook, Instagram, Google +, and other social media platforms are commonly used to store photos and videos. These photos and videos are however at high risk of just disappearing. For an interesting article about this, please click HERE. The author's grandfather was Popeye.
Our library has a variety of scanners for photo and document preservation, slide & negative scanners, and special computers to help you with converting VHS and audio tapes to digital files that can be stored and backed up. It would certainly be a shame not to keep them in use! :)
The natural answer to this question is to ensure the safety of those files. You will now want to upload many of those important files, but not all, to Family Tree. You will also want to keep "local" computer copies so you can share them with others. These files will need to be organized so they can easily be found. And of course, the most important thing is to ensure that they are being backed up somewhere very safe. It would be such a shame to have put in 100's of hours scanning those photos, creating those stories, and such, and have them lost in one sudden instant. We can help you better understand some simple strategies of organizing and backing up those files.
Record sources are the birth, marriage, death, census, and other records that we find. They document basic facts about that individual, like what day they were born on, when they were married, etc. It is important to "attach" these sources to the individual(s) to actually document the facts that are entered. The following statement is often quoted. Sources document that the individual actually lived. Just because Aunt Mabel told us that the information is true, doesn't mean it is, unless there are sources for the facts.
Explore what the hint is about. It could be a US Census record showing where your ancestor lived and who was in the household. It could be a Draft Registration record that shows the physical description of your ancestor. Take time to explore everything in the record. You are seeing a bit of history about your ancestor. Keep your mind and heart open to the Spirit. It is not unusual to feel the yearning they have for you to get to know them. You don't need to worry about "research" yet. Try attaching Record Hint to your ancestor. These hints become "sources" that will add additional "story" about your ancestor's life events. If you need some help in doing this, your ward consultant or we can help you with this.
Gather By Helping to Index Digitized Records
Contact your Ward Temple & Family History Consultant to help you get started, or come down on Wednesday evenings for missionary help.
Commit to 30" each Sunday for 6 weeks. You may just get addicted.
With the new web indexing, you can index almost anywhere.
Watch these cute videos below as a family about indexing
Indexing is a great way to get involved in doing family history. Indexing is the process of taking old digitized records from all over the world and converting them into readable and searchable text that others can more easily find. When individuals are more readily discovered, we can now find them and gather them into their families, where their saving ordinances can be performed. Is this not a way to gather Heavenly Father's children? Yep…it sure is!
We are the gatherers for all of Heavenly Father's children, both living and deceased. We ALL need to have our saving ordinances completed. Family history work allows us to learn more about our kindred ancestors, whom we will meet again one day, but also to take their names to the temple to provide for them those saving ordinances. However, family history work also allows us to come in contact with distant cousins that are descendants of our ancestors that we probably have never met. Collaborating with them on family histories, sharing stories, documents, and such allows us to get to know them better, and begin to introduce to them concepts of Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. I have had many different experiences in which I have contacted these cousins for information, and been able to communicate back and forth. To put things into a clearer perspective as well, I just had the opportunity of attending the 2018 RootsTech Conference. There were 15,000+ people there. Using the Family Tree app, we were able to see a list of all those attendees that were related to us. I had 301 distant cousins that were there, and I was actually able to have a good visit with two of the closest cousins. One of these cousins is not an LDS member and collaborating on our Hudson line is going to be a fun missionary experience. I have also had numerous opportunities to come in contact with non-LDS "cousins" that have family history interests. It's very easy to share a friendship and eventually other ideas as you stay in contact with them.
Don't forget friends we have or people we meet! It's a good bet that you are a bit shy approaching non-LDS friends about the church. However, bringing up family history, sharing fun stories about ancestors, and such is an easy way to start conversations about the church with them. Of course, you may need to become a little more experienced with doing your own family history first. That is where your Ward Temple & Family History Consultant and also the Ward Mission Leader can be very helpful.