Sunday, June 11, 2006

READERS FEEDBACK: Leave a legacy -- tell your story

I found your email on this subject to be very interesting to me.

In 1997 I attempted to "thru-hike" the Appalachian Trail, that is to say, backpack the entire 2160+ miles at one go. For physical and medical reasons I only made it about 900 miles. During the hike I kept a journal and when I came to a town, mailed my notes to a person who agreed to transcribe it for me and post it online. I have a printout of this online journal, and of course, I hope my children enjoy it someday.

In 2000 I moved to rural Ireland where I lived 3 years. During this time I tried to keep a daily journal, and about once a week I would mail it to my mom, who enjoyed it very much, and shared with anyone who would listen. She was raised on a farm (which she left as quickly as she could) so she and her siblings could relate to rural life anywhere. When she died, my sister gave me a box containing all my letters to mom about life in Ireland. I started to transcribe these letters/journal, thinking it would be much easier for someone wanting to read it, although I'm not sure I know anyone who would want to read it. This brings up my question - should I continue to transcribe these letters and save the printed version, or should I save the originals?

I hope someday one of my grandchildren will become a genealogist and appreciate the records I'm leaving, as well as my humble journals. I've loved the life I've lived, although I'm not sure anyone in my extended family understands what drove me to do some of the things I've done, but maybe some future descendant will.

One good thing that has come out of my journaling is that my oldest son collected and printed all of my online hiking journal, and when he spent a year in Iraq he did the same - sending his journal back to his wife, who shared them with family.

Sorry for straying off my original question here - should I save original papers or will typed copies be better?

PS - Glad to see you back online. Missed ya.

900 miles.... Fantastic. And your son followed your example and sent a journal to his wife while he was serving in Iraq? I'd say your family is ALREADY benefiting from the writing about your experiences. What a wonderful legacy! Now on to your question: I'll answer it with a question.
With all your genealogical experience, would you rather have the "handwritten original" or a word-for-word transcription of a document?

In the case of my French & Indian War Colonel Conrad Weiser's late-in-life recollections, written in German: the Weiser Family Association chose to print a book with the image of the original on the left side page, and the English translation typed word-for word on the right.

Ol' Myrt here loves the idea of transcribing your letters and placing them on the net. This makes it easier to distribute the content to a variety of people, since only one can possess the originals.

PS - Do you realize how much your mother loves you? She valued your communications enough to save them in that box. I am thankful your dear sister discovered the treasure and gave them back to you.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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