Leaving a family history...yes or no?

Discussion in 'Member News and Views' started by dweiss17, Mar 4, 2016.

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  1. dweiss17

    dweiss17 Registered User
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    #1 dweiss17, Mar 4, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    It makes me wonder how many of us older folks leave a history of our family and the experiences we went through during our many years on this earth. I have often implored my nephews and niece (all are well past seventy) except Steven, barely past 65, who like me is wifeless and childless….to leave a written history of their trials, tribulations and happiness over the years they spent on this planet we call Earth.

    Perhaps, only one Marty, has done some writing about his family grandparents, parents, wife and children. It should be a rich family tapestry to leave to the children and their children who would remain after each of us are gone.

    Although I have sent bits and pieces of my lifetime/history to my families' progeny concerning my years of living…the years compound to only one person in about every six thousand who will live to my lifetime and hopefully beyond.

    Should I ever attempt to even begin writing a story …it would be exceedingly painful …it would have to start with my parents emigrating from Romania in order for my father to not being conscripted into the Romanian Army; as a Jewish person the army of those years did not treat soldiers of my fathers faith very well. Arriving in Philadelphia about 1907, they, over the years, had nine children. I was number seven; afflicted with the curse of a severe stutter that played a terrible and major part in my many years of growing up among my peers.

    Always a dreamer since childhood…who despite a stutter that lessened somewhat over the year - accomplished many dreams that came true…President Reagan in 1988, signed a Proclamation noting the second week of every May as National Stuttering Awareness Week…(it also took hold overseas and is celebrated every October 22[SUP]nd)[/SUP]…this was proposed by me as editor of the Philadelphia Newsletter "Speaking Out" after helping organize the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Stuttering Project in 1986. The Newsletter went to about 40 other Chapters across the country. Others helped carry my editorial to fruition.

    Not wanting to punish myself any more than what I have gone through in this long lifetime, I sincerely hesitate to relive so many of the hurts I suffered in the past and still deeply buried in my mind…while the story would also present the fruits of happiness accrued during these many years…my need not to re-create the painful events shall remain where they are…deeply buried and not brought back to my present life.
     
  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    My mother, at my urging, put her history on a video recording. About 5 hours worth, that she dictated from her notes and included photographs. I uploaded it to Youtube for all the family to enjoy. She's gone now, and seeing her as she presented the opening and hearing her as she explained all of her photo's and treasures from her china cabinet is a bitter-sweet treat.
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    As I think is quie common, it was the death of a relative that encouraged me to try and find out more about a branch of the family. The sad thing is that so much was difficult to trace even though it was only relatively recent history. It did lead me down other avenues but all of them suffered from the same problem, there was nobody left to ask what happened and what they remember.

    Sadly the records I need were lost in the Blitz so I will never know the whereabouts of my Grandfather's remains. He died during the war in a lunatic assylum, something considered shameful and not a subject for discussion. He had eight children who survived him and seven of those had children, grandchildren and great grand children and now great great grandchildren. It is such a shame that the man at the head of all that is lost to us because of that stigma. He suffered a head injury during a traffic accident in the blackout and the resultant brain damage eventually led to him being sectioned but this was the forties.

    I'd advise anybody in your position to make as many notes about family history as you can, to write on the back of photographs explaining who the people are and the circumstances. It may take a generation or two but somebody in the family will eventually be interested enough to put all of it together and they will be so grateful to you for the start you gave them.
     
  4. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    #4 richiec, Mar 5, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
    Luckily for our family, my father's great-great uncle and his daughter began compiling a family genealogy of one branch of the family, the Van Vleck's, and there were books written about another branch, the Brinckerhoff's, while my father, my sister and myself have continued to compile further information as we have found it so we can trace parts of the family back to 900 AD in Europe. The Cross branch came to Ipswich, Massachussetts in 1634 from England, the Van Vlecks in 1658 to New York from Maastrich in the Netherlands via Amstrdam and the Brinckeroff's came in 1638 to New York as well. I have to compile my personal history someday soon being that I have been married twice with no children of my own but 4 step children and 4 grandchildren. You find that some members of the family can't be bothered while others love the history. My younger brother is one of the latter, as he says, who cares about "dead people". My sister is coming over from Germany to go to Maryland to hopefully see the papers compiled to complete the Van Vleck genealogy book in 1955 and she hopes there are some pictures with the papers at the Salisbury, Md library. Family history can be fun, like finding the black sheep in the family or the unknown hero and just mundane facts about their personal life like wills, lawsuits, deeds, etc. I have my great grandfather's income taxes from his initial filing in 1913 to his final done after his death and his estate finally settled about 7 years after his death.
     
  5. dweiss17

    dweiss17 Registered User
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    Sometimes, we hit a good nerve when we post, may the family history continue.

    Thanks, Shutterbug, novicetimekeeper, richiec.
     
  6. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    It is a shame that, while our elders are alive, and their elders before them, that it doesn't occur to succeeding generations that the longer they are gone, the more we regret not gathering stories of the past while they are alive. Yet the more remote the possibility that we will ever know. I worked with my late father for a number of years after high school. I used to get quite sick of hearing the stories from his past. Today, I am glad I had the benefit of hearing those stories. Several years ago, I went through a number of century old (and earlier) photo albums. I consolidated the photos by family, and labelled all the pictures of folks I could identify in the album. So when my time comes, our son will (hopefully) find the albums more meaningful.
     
  7. Kevin W.

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    I have no children to leave my family history to. My sister has one child. I dont know of anyone outside my family that would be interested in it. My mother wrote down a lot for me when she was alive and i have kept it.
     
  8. shutterbug

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    Kevin, consider willing the stories from your mother to a historical society or museum. They still have value, even if the family doesn't see it :)
     
  9. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    Good point Shutt, my older brother has more on it than i.
     
  10. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    When my aunt died she had bundles of very old photos. Unfortunately my dad died before her and now theres no way of knowing who any of the people were. Just a name on the back would have wonderful.

    A cousin did a load of research into the family history and although its interesting to trace the family back to the huguenots fleeing France from persecution and all that, it would have been much MORE interesting if there had been some notes left by the people themselves
     

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