What About Forbidden Stories?

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever welcomes guest blogger Terri O’Connell. Terri is a genealogist, author, and presenter with a unique perspective: saving forbidden stories. By recording, saving, and sharing these stories, we are able to see how society has affected our family’s decisions and actions, and how we’ve grown because of it.]


Family stories of the past are a concern for many of the older generations in our families. They do not understand why we want to know the details of the stories. Why is it important to research these stories as well as the person? Are the family secrets really that devastating to today’s public? Or, do the family elders really not understand the changes that are happening in our world today.

What About Forbidden Stories?

Consider, unwed mothers. Many years ago when an unmarried woman was with child weddings were rushed or young women were sent away from home so not to embarrass the family. The shame that surrounded these young women for putting their families through these troubling times was tremendous.

Many times these women that were pushed into giving their child up for adoption,  how many of them really wanted to do that and how many did it to keep peace in their families. There are many movies and television shows dedicated to telling these stories. Those that are the most heart-wrenching to watch are the mothers looking for their child to make sure they had a good, happy life or even the child searching for the mother wanting to know why they were not good enough or loved enough to be kept. As a genealogist, each of these stories tears my heart right open.

What has changed in all these years? Everything! Today we celebrate the unwed mother, we give her a television show to chronicle her pregnancy, and if, she does well enough, we just might add her to a show that chronicles the lives of teen moms. The public shares the pains of these poor children that are caught in a web of children attempting to be adults. It seems that no one has taken the time to teach each of them what it means to be a parent and what they need to do to keep their children safe. Yes, today we embrace these mothers and let them continue to be children with children instead of forcing them to be adults.

As a women who was a teen mom, and was also a child of parents that started as teen parents. I encourage you to uncover these stories. I have found many generations of teen moms in my family. After looking through the documents and seeing what happened with each marriage, I share this conclusion with you this: With each generation we learn and grow stronger; we even end the cycle. Learn from these family stories, and continue to teach the younger generations in your family.


Terri O’Connell is a professional genealogist, author, and travel specialist in the Greater Chicagoland area. Terri specializes in Midwestern genealogy with a focus on the families and history of Illinois. You can learn more about her services at Finding Our Ancestors. Terri is also the Executive Director of The In-Depth Genealogist, a digital community that contributes to the advancement of all genealogists.

Photo Credit: Terri O’Connell / FindingOurAncestors.net


Unleash Your Story Superhero: Save those memories with the kids!

[Editor’s Note: Saving Memories Forever blogger Stephanie Pitcher Fishman helps you engage your kids in family stories by creating a Story Superhero!]

 Create your family Story Superhero with Saving Memories Forever

Spring is here, and the kids are looking for some fun things to do. No longer are we stuck inside the house waiting for the snow to melt and the winter storms to pass us by. Summer trips and vacations will be here before you know it. Use their enthusiasm and sense of adventure to your advantage. Turn them into memory savers and storytellers!

Stir Up the Excitement

Our kids are natural storytellers. Most will entertain us for hours with their imagination. (Only as we age do we get hesitant to tell our stories!) This excitement is contagious. The best way to get them ready to collect stories is to show them how much fun hearing these stories can be. What are your favorite family stories? Use this as your starting point. Tell your children stories of your childhood. Help them picture what life was like for you at their age. Use stories that elicit familiar memories of their own experiences: food, vacation, school field trips, etc. Next, give them a challenge. Not only should they share their own stories, but they need collect the stories of their family. They will be your family’s Story Superhero!

Plan Your Adventure

We’re all familiar with a common saying: “The devil is in the details.” How do we avoid that kind of mischief and make our project successful? Plan! Invite your kids into the planning stages. Identify two main things: the people you can visit and the stories that they can tell. These very important pieces of the plan will help your superhero tackle the challenge ahead. Discuss the best ways to collect your stories once your mission begins. Every Story Superhero needs to be prepared to fight off their biggest foe: lack of preparation!

After you’ve introduced them to some of your family stories, ask them to think about the types they would like to learn. Also consider creating a chart or map listing the relatives that you can visit. Don’t forget to use the super power of technology to your benefit. Family members separated by distance can use Skype to connect.

Do you have travel plans for the summer? Consider taking your show on the road! As you plan your family vacations you can record stories and memories in many different ways. First, consider incorporating a family visit into your travel plans in order to interview loved ones. Not only will you capture their stories but you will also make them feel special as you dedicate time especially to them.

Unleash the Storyteller Within

Once you’ve collected your story, don’t just end things there. Tell the tale! The story doesn’t end with the voice. You can expand your family’s understanding of their ancestors by adding layers to the story such as photos, transcriptions, tags to connect stories with common themes, and more. Then, once you’ve built your complete story experience, use your superpowers to share it with others!


The Saving Memories Forever website has many useful resources to help you in your adventure. Follow the links below to find out more!

Sign up for Saving Memories Forever E-News, our monthly newsletter. It is filled with ideas and suggestions to help you share those stories. We also include some reviews not because we like to toot our own horn but because we love sharing how others use the app in unique ways.

View our list of helpful memory prompt questions. You’ll find our memory prompts in the Saving Memories Forever iPhone and Android app as well as in this handy printable format.

Don’t forget about the great resources available for free on Pinterest! The Saving Memories Forever Pinterest boards share tips for storytelling, creating memories, and connecting with family along with other fun and inspiring boards. Don’t forget to follow us so that you won’t miss a single resource!

Your Family Stories are Powerful

Stories count. Stories are powerful. Stories add so much to the family chart.

This was the message repeated over and over again at the RootsTech 2013 Conference where Saving Memories Forever had an Exhibitor booth.

Obviously, we agree.

We are certainly thrilled to be on the same page as large organizations such as FamilySearch, genealogical societies such as FGS, and notable papers such as The New York Times. Speakers from these organizations cited the importance of emerging technologies and the role that technology will play in developing and enriching the field of family history.
Grab the Saving Memories Forever App
David Pogue, Technology Columnist for The New York Times, gleefully showed off a cool new app to reinforce his belief that apps will lead the way.  Apps are mobile, affordable, and fun and will generate a lot of excitement.  Well  designed apps, he added, are easy to use and will appeal to huge numbers of people.

Check One for Saving Memories Forever.

Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, remarked that while technology today allows anyone to enter the field and create a record for their families, only 60% of all people currently living will leave a record when they die. That is a shame, he commented, especially when there is so much to share and it’s so easy to do.

Josh Taylor from findmypast.com and President of FGS stated that genealogy today is so much more than a family pedigree chart. He emphasized the need to engage youth and to attract them to the field of family history. To do this, he stressed making the process fun, easy, and accessible.

Check Two for Saving Memories Forever.

Nationally acclaimed storytellers Syd Lieberman and Kim Weitkamp are strong proponents for the importance of storytelling.  While they are both professionals, they are quick to point out that anyone can tell a story and that stories about everyday lives are just what their relatives will want to hear about.

“Family stories start at birth,” noted Syd. “Stories are powerful,” he continued. Leiberman also noted that stories link you, ground you, and capture life. And because they tell universal truths, they are always interesting to others. His personal stories revealed brave and loving ancestors.

Family stories are important to remember!
Kim Weitkamp, whose influential elementary school teacher told her she had “the gift of gab”  adds that stories reveal personalities.  For years she’s been the family historian, often asked to tell a story again and again.  Over the years she’s developed a process that helps her select and develop story ideas. That process involves making a “memory map”, selecting a story idea from that map, and then “boxing in” the story.  She emphasizes the need for having an intention, a lesson, behind the story and holds workshops around the country to explain the process. Having said that, she enthusiastically believes that everyone is a storyteller and has many stories to tell. She reminded us that our stories don’t have to be about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  The best stories start as a simple thought.  Kim said, “My wish for everyone is that they leave behind them a fullness of stories with great intention.”

Check Three for Saving Memories Forever.

Help us spread the word about the importance of telling stories in general. To be specific, we’d like more people to know about Saving Memories Forever and how our service makes recording, saving, and sharing stories so easy. There’s even some financial reward. Read about our new Affiliate Program.

Come join us!

Announcing Saving Memories Forever Affiliate Program

“Saving Memories Forever has some great news for all of our friends and fans!” comments Harvey Baker, President of Saving Memories Forever. “We are pleased to announce the launch of our Affiliate Program. This program is available to individuals, professional organizations, associations, and businesses whose mission compliments storytelling. Help us preserve, protect, and share families stories!”


Under the terms of the new program, Affiliates will receive 20% of the $35 price for each sale of our Premium Subscription. Because Saving Memories Forever is based on renewed subscriptions, this means that Affiliates might expect recurring income. What could be better?

In addition, Affiliates who sell over a designated amount will receive additional percentages of sales based on the volume of their sales. Revenue will be paid on a monthly basis for activations for the prior month.

Are you ready to sign up? There are several requirements for becoming an Affiliate. First, all Affiliates must own either an iPhone or Android smartphone that is compatible with our system. Secondly, all Affiliates must have a valid email address and an active website or blog. Finally, all potential Affiliates must be reviewed and approved by the owners of Saving Memories Forever. That’s all there is to it!

Please look at our website (SavingMemoriesForever.com) to become more familiar with our system. Contact us at admin@SavingMemoriesForever.com for more details about our Affiliate Program.

Come join us!