Sunday, January 20, 2013

Boston Public Library Local & Family History Lecture Series

"The Boston Public Library's Local & Family History Lecture Series is in its 10th year of sharing information about the history of Boston and its neighborhoods along with tips and guides for those beginning their own genealogical research."

I am pleased to be included among the speakers at this year's BPL Local and Family History lecture series. I will be at the library on January 23rd at 6pm. The librarian emailed the following when she asked me to participate, "Your quote 'We can each have some control over the history that is remembered when we maintain and make plans for our own documentation' brings the history and the genealogy together."

Getting this message out to genealogists [and others] is important. Often caught up in the history of the past, we forget about the history of the future. By that I mean, we need to remember that the things we do today will be important to our descendants. We need to be aware as we search for answers about our ancestors that we can also leave clues about ourselves. We are not just digging for history -- or in my case saving the records of history -- we are also living history.

While in the past we did it somewhat shoddy job of recording and keeping information about how we lived, we have an opportunity moving forward. We have tools and awareness of the value of history that can help us share what we know with future generations. As a genealogist or person with an interest in local history and family stories, YOU are responsible for telling your story. How will you be remembered? What do you have to say to others? What does your life represent? And, not only is this a responsibility, it is an opportunity to think about and live your life as you want -- to evaluate who you are and how you want others to begin to think about your place in history.

You are the center of history
My life is a blip on a timeline of history, but it is ON that timeline. Each one of us is important. We have the power to help our memories survive by documenting them and thoughtfully passing them on. It is the stories of everyday life that count. It is these stories that help us better understand societies and how the "common man" functions, survives and changes. As part of larger communities, individuals help mold those communities. Whether we are aware of our impact or not, our participation in anything changes that thing. I have found that being aware of this makes the study of history more significant and allows me to better understand my role and purpose in the world.

My presentation, "The Unofficial Family Archivist" will help arm you with techniques for telling your stories. I hope to make you realize (if you don't already) how life's little moments are what make you and what makes your communities. How do you find, record, and save the stories that surround you that are worth telling? My books on archives, communy and memory provide a little more focus with worksheets to assist. [I didn't want to make this blog post a book sales pitch, but I do think the tie-in will be helpful to some.] I hope that you will join me this Wednesday if you are in the Boston area. Come tell me YOUR stories. I love hearing about what is important to other people. Not only do I like growing my personal network, but, selfishly, learning about others helps me better understand myself too. I look forward to seeing you soon!


  1. Nice post, I totally agree with your point about learning individuals' personal stories as a vital way to remember a culture. I hope your speech went well! There are a ton of great Boston public speaking events these days - I should try to go to more. Thanks!