Friday, September 09, 2005

Video Genealogy Ideas

There are many things we can do to help future generations of family genealogists. Computer files and notebooks full of census record printouts and cemetery records are always a great asset, but if you have a video camera, there is so much more you can do!

One of the first things to remember when starting to make your "Family Treasure Video" is to show things, don't just tell about them. Instead of having only a written record of a final resting place of the immigrant grandpa, for instance, take the camera to the cemetery and show it. Anyone who enjoys working on this type of activity right now certainly wishes that someone from the past had been able to record those days for us.

If you know where an old family homestead was, add it to the video. Interview some of the elderly members of the family. Ask for stories and memories. You will not need to ask them to remember dates for this video because you will have that sort of thing written down elsewhere or you can mention the birth and death dates, etc. on the video when doing your own "speaking parts."

If Aunt Minnie makes the best potato salad in the world, don't just ask her for the recipe; ask if you may film her making it. If Grandma enjoys singing or playing the piano, by all means film it. Record a little bit of family holiday traditions or birthday parties. There are so many ideas possible that you will need to do a little planning on how long to spend doing each section (unless you intend to make more than one videotape).

Another good idea is to do interviews. Ask specific questions but allow the person you are interviewing to go into other areas with their memories. You may have to guide the interview to a certain extent, but any reminiscence is worth recording. Keep in mind that stories from the present are great too, considering this is being done for future genealogists. Anything we record now will be a true treasure for them.

When you have added everything that you want to include on the video, be prepared to have it copied for various family members. Make sure the original copy is kept in a safe place. If finances allow you may want to have a few DVDs made as well. In fact, every time a new technology comes along, have a few copies of the family video transferred to the new medium.

It would be a shame if VHS and DVD eventually go the way of the old 8-tracks before anyone realizes that copies of the family video weren't made. Granted that wouldn't happen for a long time, but this project is to help those genealogists of the future. It may be difficult deciding which family members will get a copy of the videos and unless you care to fund a very expensive undertaking, you can't make a copy for everyone. One solution is to find out how much copying will cost and then put out the word that anyone wanting a copy can get one by paying the copying costs.

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