By 2015 the US Census Bureau estimates the age group of 55 and older will make up about 27% the US population. Soon I will be joining the 55 and older crowd and I have been thinking about the future and about legacies.
There are many types of legacies. The gift of property through a will is the most common. My grandmother, Mary Frith Powell, left her family a legacy of love through all the handmade quilts she stitched. That’s another type of legacy.
Mary also bequeathed to us a view of the world through her life and times. She was born at the dawn of the 20thcentury (January 1900) and died the year that century left us (April 2000). She always reminded us that it was easy for her to remember her life experiences based upon the year’s events. Let’s see. In 1914 as the Great War was starting, Mary was just beginning her teenage years, living on a farm with her family. She was 69 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, 80 when Ronald Reagan was elected president and 100 when the new millennium was ushered in. This was her greatest legacy to us.
As the boomer population ages, we will look for ways to communicate life experiences to our children and grandchildren, creating a personal legacy for the future. There are many ways that a person can tell or write their story.
The Association of Personal Historians can help you with personal memories –audio, video and printed versions. Mary Virginia Currie – historian, archivist, and librarian – tells me this is done by interviewing the person, recording their accounts, and transcribing and sometimes editing the words for paper. Some historians use video and audio medium for the finished product. Others create books. Ms. Currie is also qualified to perform these services for businesses. Of course if you are a famous person, Kitty Kelly may want to scribe an unauthorized version about you.
The Story Corps. “StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” You can go to one of their studios and record a memorable time in your life. StoryCorps will edit and archive it with the other 30,000 interviews they have collected. If you don’t feel like driving to New York, Atlanta or San Francisco to record in their studios, you can meet up with one of their mobile units touring the US. Also, their website offers other ways in which you can capture memories for this national archive.
Do It Yourself. There are many do it yourself ways of documenting and compiling a personal histogram for your family. Journal writing or blogging (web log) about day to day events will make memorable and lasting impressions on those who will follow you. Start collecting hand written letters, emails and other electronic correspondence, invitations, and announcements.
It’s important that we personalize the history of this great country for our family’s next generation. This will help those who come after us connect with the past and know from where they came. What will be your legacy to your family?