Recently two items have crossed my desk. One was a column from the New York Times by Verlyn Klinkenborg on how the sounds of our voices are so easily lost to time, and the other was a BBC Archives collection of oral history stories by survivors of the Titanic. This got me to thinking about how we as genealogists have a unique opportunity to preserve the sounds of those we love with the ease of today’s recording devices.
Can you remember the voice of a loved one who died 40 or 50 years ago? All I have is the sound of a trumpet on an old polka band recording to remind me of my father. No voice messages, no home movies, just trumpet notes and my fading memories. And I have noticed that I use my mother’s sayings as a way of keeping her memory alive. Wouldn’t it be a thrill to hear our grandparents’ voices?
If you have an elderly, or even not so elderly, relative, maybe you should be recording their words for the next generation. And maybe we should be recording our own voices, too. Sing a lullaby to a generation as yet unborn. Read a family letter. Share the instructions for a favorite family recipe. Retell stories of the old country. Talk about your childhood. Describe the anxieties and joys of living in the year 2013. Personal Story Corps-type recordings can be fun and revelatory. Can you offer any tips on how to achieve this? What are the best tools and techniques?