These are my notes taken during the devotional held on the second day of the BYU FH Conference 2010. The speaker was Curt Witcher, Manager, Allen County Genealogy Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a former President of FGS and NGS
Key message: There is an urgent need to record living history
We have history in our hands – what are we going to do with it?
We are losing history as we speak
We need to create another core value
We have left the care of our written records largely in the hands of strangers
Who is caring for the records?
Increasingly we are retaining only what is legally required
We are limiting hours and access at archives and libraries
Historians are engaged in radical sampling – he was surprised that there was a US 2010 census – because can do it more cheaply in other ways by sampling for instance - will we have no population schedule? – just sampling – will lose information on lots of individuals (pd comment – think about the Canadian Census)
What if newspapers disappear? What happens to our history?
Increasingly it is about profit over product
Key question: Can I take a little time out of historical research to see who is minding the store on our records – and take a little time to create a living history?
So busy with the important things of life that we have crowded out the lasting things
79% of federal agencies at moderate or high risk of record loss
There are now disinterested keepers of the records
Ohio state library gave away its genealogical collection to another library
Increasing limited hours of access to libraries and archives
We have more ability but are losing interest in and focus on keeping thoughts and words for future generations
- who writes letters any more?
- how are you keeping and preserving your email? – your Christmas messages?
Do you have virtual photo albums?
We are fascinated with technology but are we using it properly?
Library of Congress announced they will preserve Tweets!!! – but not emails! – so what happens to the emails?
History is in our hands
What are we going to lose if we fail? Can we afford this?
If we fail to act we will be the 1st generation since the middle ages to go dark . . . what’s going to be available to our descendants? The documents that evidence our rich history and heritage will be lost
We are going to lose voices of 11 yr olds – memories of falling in love – Letter from child remembering her grandmother and visit to her grave – do we want to lose these?
Angels on flight 3405 – story – editorial – will it be lost?
Transcriptions of immigrant life, diaries – great when we see these become available online – what will remain for our generation?
Lose stories – e.g. Patti Ambrogi’s tribute to her grandmother
A ww2 love story
Telling our stories – so important – see web site http://storycorps.org/ (pd: is there a Canadian equivalent?)
Progressive letter – 34 pages long – feb 1916
What can we do?
Write – start today and never stop
Take a few moments every day to write
Write as you have never written before
Posturing to write . . . – think of sight, sound, smell
Let photo album fall open and write about the pictures that you see
Ritual – take a word that is important to you such as ritual – write Christmas letter about simple everyday rituals – marriage, graduation, burial – all in the year
Is that “Old junk” - or precious memories that you have?
Publish – there is a space – somewhere you can post, leave family information
Write, share, publish
Tell our stories
“1819 – 1890″ can you fill in the dashes – what happened?
Do what you can
It will make all the difference
This I believe