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It's All Relative: Recording family histories

December 21, 2009 |  7:58 am


This week the Home section launches a new column, both online and in print, that examines aging in the 21st century. Columnist Rosemary McClure will look at what it means to take care of an increasingly dependent parent, as well as new systems -- social and technological -- that are designed to make the aging process easier.

In her first column, McClure takes a look at oral family histories -- both why they are important, and how they should be approached. She writes:

Everyone has a story to tell. If we don't collect and preserve our family's stories, one day they disappear forever. Lamenting their loss becomes an exercise in futility.

But, experts say, the good news is that the holiday season provides an ideal opportunity to dive into family history. The intimate round-the-dinner-table gatherings of Christmas and Hanukkah spur storytelling. And storytelling conveys exactly what we want: a first-hand recounting of names, experiences and places. We hear our family's history from the people who lived it.

Curious to know more? Read the rest of the story here and then share your thoughts in the comments section.

-- Deborah Netburn

Illustration credit: Diane Bigda / For The Times