The Power of a Family Story

Portrait of Pvt. Edwin Francis Jemison

So what is it about family stories and legends that seem to “rope us in” and captivate our attention? Is it the story teller and the way they depict the events and the characters involved? Is it the use of language to color the story and make it appear right before your eyes? Or could it be the story itself that causes you to consider not just the stories of your family members, but the importance of preserving your own story?

Family Stories – A Gateway to Family History

As genealogy and family history grows in popularity, it seems that a launching point for many folks is the power of a family story.

Perhaps it was the tale of how an ancestor joined the California Gold Rush in the 1850s or sailed the high seas in New England during the late 18th century. Someone who fought in the US Civil War or served their country in the military? Or maybe you heard about a relative who suffered from a disease or ailment and you wonder if it “runs in the family?” And stories can also be in the form of a mystery to be solved as in, “Whatever happened to So and So? I heard she ran away with the circus!”

Don’t Forget the Story When Researching!

Since family stories are the big motivator for tracing one’s own roots, doesn’t it make sense to include them as part of your family history research? Granted, these stories with all their twists and turns may actually not pan out or may cause to to go on a wild goose chase, but they do have a way of launching is on the journey that is genealogy.

And as the recipient of such great information via family stories, wouldn’t it be great to “pay it forward” by leaving your own story for your children and grandchildren? Many times it is the keeper of the family history that is so focused on ancestors and their stories, that they neglect to keep and preserve their own memories.

21st Century Tools for Capturing Stories

More and more family members are using modern technology to help them capture and preserve these important stories and legends. The range of tools varies and includes publishing online via blogs and websites or even creating self-published books.

But many realize that limiting stories to the written word can result in “flat” or “two-dimensional” ancestors. With today’s technologies via computers and smart phones, the options are not only limitless, but they can help build a vibrant family story using audio, photos and more.

Saving Memories Forever is more than just a FREE iPhone app that lets you capture a story or a memory. The Saving Memories Forever website offers a platform where your audio recording is only one component of the story. You can add photos, images of related documents and even collaborate with family members to add their own elements of a story.

Take your story to the next level and leave an important legacy for your family members. We now have the means to create “3D” ancestors and there’s no reason not to take advantage of these new ways of telling our stories.

Photo: Portrait of Pvt. Edwin Francis Jemison, 2nd Louisiana Regiment, C.S.A., Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540, LC-B8184-10037.

This entry was posted in The Power of Story and tagged , , by Thomas MacEntee. Bookmark the permalink.

About Thomas MacEntee

When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3000+ members of GeneaBloggers (, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field. You can reach Thomas at or visit his site at High-Definition Genealogy –