[Editor’s note: Saving Memories Forever blogger Thomas MacEntee shares some tips and tricks on setting family history resolutions for 2013 and sticking to them! ]
Besides trying to stick to the usual New Year’s resolutions (losing weight, getting organized . . . I’m sure there are others!), have you pondered the state of your family’s stories and memories?
The start of a new year is a great way to make plans for preserving your family’s history through photos, documents and most importantly, the oral history and stories that get passed down from generation to generation.
Resolution #1: Get Organized and Make a Family History Plan
That’s right Stan, a plan. All projects big and small require some planning and some efforts at organization. If you want to start a photo scanning project, start by sorting the photos into groups. Prepare your materials. Set up folders on your computer for storing the digital images.
The same works for saving family stories. Make a list of the stories that are most important to you. Then list all the family members and friends who might have more information about the story or their own perspective to add. Finally, list the format you want to use to preserve the story (handwritten, typed on the computer, or recorded using an app like Saving Memories Forever).
Resolution #2: Preserve Photos the Fun and Easy Way
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is an easy-to-use tool for scanning photos and documents of almost any size. Check out our recent review of the Flip-Pal here and you’ll realize one added bonus: scanning photos with family members will get them talking about family stories!
One trick that successful “family photo scanners” use: place a large box of photos along with your Flip-Pal next to your favorite spot near the television. Each evening, resolve to scan 10, 20 or even 100 photos while watching your favorite programs. In no time, you’ll be ready to move on to the next box of family photos!
Resolution #3: Home Movies and Slides Matter Too
Are you still sitting on a box or two of 8mm home movies? What about video tapes? You need to act quickly to preserve these materials and ideally, convert them to a digital format. The reason: many materials degrade over time and most of us haven’t taken the time to store these items using archival materials and practices.
The easiest way to convert home movies and slides is to take them to a superstore like Walmart or Costco or a drugstore such as CVS or Walgreens. Drop them off and in a matter of days you’ll have a CD or DVD of the movies and images to be added to your family history projects.
Resolution #4: Don’t Forget The Family Stories
Unfortunately, many of us neglect the family stories when it comes to preserving family history. Perhaps because oral history is not tactile, you can’t reach out and touch it or hold it. This doesn’t lessen its importance; in fact, family stories are often the starting point for genealogy or researching family history.
Rather than trying to remember these stories, which becomes difficult as the years go by, commit to making sure they are kept in a format that can be passed on to future generations. Don’t just write down the story, take it one step further: record the story in your own voice. Or better yet, interview family and friends who were involved in the story!
While digital recording tools abound, Saving Memories Forever is not only easy to use, but you can also add your photos and images to help round out the story.
Resolution #5: Create a “How Am I Doing?” Check In System
Most of us are all gung-ho about resolutions in January, but what about May or November? Set up a reminder system using a wall calendar or a digital calendar (or even a program like Evernote) that forces you to take inventory of you progress.
Like hopping on a scale, try to be honest when checking in. Have you accomplished 10% or 25% of the goal on a family history project? Do you need help, and if so, who in the family can help?
Periodic touchstones help make the journey not only quicker, but they also make sure we are on course to our destination.
So What Are You Waiting For?
It’s all up to you right now. Start today. Don’t wait. Preserve those precious family memories and make sure they get passed on down to the future generations.