Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make your OWN Generations Project

What are you doing on Monday nights? Ol' Myrt here hopes you are looking into Brigham Young University's new TV series -- The Generations Project. But more than watching this well-constructed show for the entertainment value, I'd like to see this series become a tutorial for creating your own family history video.

Danielle's quest in this week's episode can be an example of how each of us might document the challenges and joys of climbing our family trees.

Finding the obscure mention of Danielle's ancestor in a child's coloring book lead to locating US Patent Office documents in addition to census and other records supporting Danielle's link to this man.

Continuing the journey, Danielle discovers that in 1814, her 3rd great-grandfather paid for his freedom from slavery. Over the course of the next eight years, he paid for the freedom of his wife and 12 children. In emancipation documents, Godfrey's slave owner described Godfrey's dedication to family and freedom using the following phrases "I was influenced by the high character he supported for honesty and industry... incontestable proof of his unwearied industry... extraordinary merit."

This program is 'spot on' when it comes to interviewing Danielle and gauging her reactions as she encounters documents proving her ancestry and goes a few steps further by studying her ancestors in historical context. Unlike other family history shows, the research process is openly described.

Alternative content

How about showing one of these broadcasts at your next genealogy society meeting as a model for presenting one's family history in digital format? The non-genealogists in the family will find a family video more compelling than a printed book.

Using ideas demonstrated in this series, we could figure out how to readily combine:
  • source documents
  • family photos
  • heirlooms
  • field trips to family places
  • local history
  • personal recollections
and come up with an hour long video. It could even be uploaded in 9 minute segments to YouTube, at literally no cost for distribution. Just THINK of the possibilities!

So if the thought of writing and editing the next few chapters of your family history book seems daunting, why not swap out the paper for digital video?

Create your OWN generations project.

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

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