Preserving Precious Family Memories

Darlene Snyder

Why do you suppose it is important to preserve memories of your siblings as well as your own? Im glad you asked. Keep reading and I willl explain.

Often when my siblings and I are setting around reminiscing, one of them will invariably recall a situation I had forgotten, or they recall the details of that situation differently than how I remember them. Putting all of the pieces together gives us more of an accurate accounting.

I encourage you – if there is a family member who has knowledge of your families history – to take time to obtain the information – recording that knowledge for future generations. You will enjoy listening to or reading the written account of those memories for years to come.

When thinking about taking notes or recording a family member, I have a few tips to offer. Take these tips for what they are – suggestions, things I learned on my journey to preserving my fathers memories.

•Determine who has information or memories of your families past and would be willing to share those memories.

Who in your family possesses valuable family information? Who would be willing to talk to you and answer endless questions about the past? Have you heard a particular family member tell the same stories from their past over and over? Don’t miss out on the chance to record those stories. As you/they grow older, the details will fade. You might think that you will remember every story and every detail, but don’t count on it. When I was a teenager, I grew bored with my fathers endless stories of when he went to school, church or lived and worked on the family farm. He would tell one tale after another –most of which, I could recite word for word. As I became older and matured, I began to ask him infinite questions and soon I discovered a newfound interest in my families past. By the time I decided I wanted to preserve family memories, my grandfather and grandmother were deceased. I determined that my father was the best person for me to interview.

NOTE If you don’t have a family member to obtain this information from, consider keeping a journal of your life in order to preserve your legacy.

•Determine how you are going to record the memories.

When I chose to record my father, I chose to use a hand held mini cassette recorder. It was small, easy to handle and not intimidating – not that my father would have been intimidated by a video camera. He would have performed rather that give me what I needed. He enjoyed being in front of the camera and always acted silly. He liked to play too much – I would have been “chasing rabbits” if I videotaped him.

•I use a digital audio recorder now. With a digital recorder, if you have the right program, you can transfer the audio file to your computer for storage and future use. This works also work for a digital video recorder.

•With video recording, you have another type of history preserved. You will have how the person dressed, their mannerism and facial expressions to go along with their spoken words.

•Whether audio or video, it doesnt really matter. What is important is just to record the memories of the person you chose to interview. Once you have the information recorded, you can transcribe them into written memories at your own pace and time.

•Make sure to have extra batteries on hand and if using anything other than digital recording, have extra blank tapes with you.

Check back next week for more tips and suggested questions to ask during the interview. Soon you will be an old pro at this and your family members will be running away from you in fear you will want to record them – again. Actually they will be running towards you in hopes of getting their hands on a copy of your work.

See you next week.

Darlene Snyder is a part time freelance writer and photographer. She works fulltime in Madison District Court.
To read more of her writings or to see a sampling of her photography, visit

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