This week has been very busy preparing for my concerts this weekend. Our guest artist for this show is Alex Newell who plays U’nique on Glee. He has been a joy to work with. The music tells the tales of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Civil Rights Movement through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As part of the concert, videos will be playing behind us and on either side with images from the past century.
One of the songs we are singing is That’s What Friends are For. Several of the younger members of the chorus standing near me did not understand why the image on the screen as we sing this song is of the AIDS Quilt being displayed on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I explained to them that the song was best known for the version sung by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder that was released in 1986 as a fundraiser for AIDS research.
The fact that they did not know this reminded me of the importance of teaching the next generation about our history. The same thing goes for families. We spend a great deal of time researching, but often we do not spend enough time sharing our history with the next generation. Here are some tips to help you.
1. Talk to Family Members
Take opportunities at family gatherings to tell younger members of the family stories about their ancestors. Be certain the stories are age appropriate, so as to retain their interest in the stories. Birthdays, funerals, weddings, and anniversaries are popular occasions for these discussions. You might consider, however, having a party for no reason other than getting the family together. Then use the opportunity for the older generations to share stories with the younger ones. This can also give you lots more new information for your research.
2. Record Your Stories
While you are having these parties, use the opportunity to video the stories everyone is telling. What better way to present the stories than to show later generations their ancestors telling stories in their own words. You can also do some special one-on-one interviews between you and a family member. You might also try recording you or other family members telling stories to only one or two of the younger generation. With today’s multimedia options, there is no end of things you can do with the recordings.
3. Write the Stories Down
Recording stories in more than one medium is important. Some people prefer to watch videos while others might prefer to read the stories. You can also print out your collection of stories and donate them to your local public library and/or genealogical society. This will ensure that future generations will have access to them.