In talking about my business to families and individuals, I often come across the perception that you have to be “almost famous” to have a video made about you or your family. People will say, “well there’s nothing really that interesting about us. We’re just a regular family doing regular things. Nothing like the people you see on TV.” The perception being that your life has to have been distinguished by something remarkable and media-worthy in order to justify the production of a biography.
One of the things that I often ask people is if I had a video of their great-grandfather talking about his life, what would that be worth to them? Most people get it and smile. “Of course, I would do whatever I could to get a copy of that.” It deserves some thought about what we are creating now that would leave something behind for our great-grandchildren. How will they know us?
Genealogy is the number 1 hobby in America today. I have been working on my own genealogy chart and it’s such a thrill when I find some small bit of information about one of my ancestors. I spoke with a great-aunt this past weekend who gave me some information about one of my great-grandmothers that I didn’t know. (That’s her in the photo above.) It was so exciting to hear these details, facts that even my father wasn’t aware of. Small thrills in the discovery of clues about her life. Other people I know are involved in the same pursuit. Putting together pieces of their own family puzzle. We’re all hungry for connection; knowing where we came from helps us figure out where we might be going. Most of our ancestors were just ordinary people, doing what they could to create a better life for themselves and for their families. My ancestors were all poor immigrants from eastern European countries. There were a few that had some flash and sizzle episodes but none were John D. Rockefellers or Fred Astairs. How I wish one of them had had the forethought to sit down in front of an audio recorder or write some type of record of what they were up to in life.
Most of our clients experiences with family research mirror my own experiences. True, some are community icons having made a name for themselves in business or philanthropic commitments. But most of our clients are just “regular people” who are committed to passing on their values and ethics, the events that shaped their lives, and their visions for the future in the hopes that their future ancestors will know and understand who they were. Many are children of people who see the need to capture their parents histories, while the parents themselves consider it a lot of fuss (although they are secretly pleased to have their family care enough about them to take the time and spend the money recording their personal histories.)
To me, recording one’s history is as important as a Last Will and Testament. One transfers your physical assets, the other, passes on something less tangible but much more important, you.