Jun 23, 2009

Happy Fathers Day! Part 3

In keeping with his love of books and storytelling, my Dad made sure that family stories wouldn't be forgotten by writing a book that told stories from his parents' lives and his own childhood. He published enough copies for each of his family members. I'll never forget the thrill of discovery, reading new stories about Dad's life, remembering ones I'd nearly forgotten, finally being able to see the timeline of the different events in his life, and understanding how they fit together.

It all started with Jim and Suzanne, my brother and sister-in-law. They encouraged Dad to get started, and got him in touch with a local company that helps people write their own life stories. A writer interviewed Dad for the book, and her journalistic skills elicited information from Dad that he probably wouldn't have thought to include. She transcribed the interview, and helped him edit the final product. A real testament to her ability is that the narrative retained my Dad's voice, in a conversational, natural tone. We were all extremely pleased with and proud of the final product, which included wonderful family photographs. If you are interested, the company is Personal History Productions.

This wasn't my Dad's first foray into recording family history. Just this week he sent me a tape from 1968 (or earlier?), in which he recorded me and my brothers reading stories out loud. I haven't heard the tape in decades, and he no longer has a reel to reel player. But I have access to one, and I'll find out how we can digitize this old 1/4" magnetic tape, to give it new life.

There are many ways in which you can immortalize family stories by writing them down or recording them. Take a look at the nonprofit LifeBio, The Remembering Site, or anonther nonprofit, StoryCorps. Any of these organizations will help make the task more manageable, and give you the steps you need to get started on narrating, writing or recording your family history. Or, you can do what my brothers and I did a few years ago. We simply took a tape recorder, and spent a session conversing with my Dad and asking him questions, prompting memories and funny stories. But, you have to DO something with the tape afterwards! (I haven't--yet.)


Professor Batty said...

I transferred the family audio archives for a dear friend whose late father (who was also one of my teachers) left a boxful of tapes. It was a bittersweet experience, but very rewarding.

Rose said...

You made a digital transfer, Batty?

Professor Batty said...

I've got a pro CD recorder, I use it with my stereo set-up. Most people now use a USB audio input adapter with software (comes with the adapter.) Either way it is kind of tedious, especially if you want to have tracks, you have to do it in real time, pause and insert an edit. The USB adapters are about $30, a Pro CD recorder is several hundred.