Sunday, April 24, 2011

Preserving Our Roots - Collecting Family History

For a while I've had this picture, trying to decide the best place for it. You see, it was my mothers.  Birch trees were her favorite and about 30 years ago a lovely neighbor painted it for her.

Back then we lived in a house just a short walk from the beach. I remember that brilliant summer afternoon. The clean scent of ocean air softly drifted our way on the breeze. We were sitting on the back deck of her friend Eileen's house, enjoying the easy laughter that always seems to flow on those "life is good" days. Eileen stepped into the house and when she returned she was carrying the painting in her hands. I still recall the look of pure delight in my mother's eyes. No one had every done anything like that for her before and she treasured it.

When she passed away my step-father kept the painting, and now that he is also gone, it has been passed down to me. Yesterday, I decided to hang it in my office on the wall just over my shoulder. It makes me feel as if she is watching over me.

The memory of that summer day started me thinking about family and traditions, and so I decided to put together some resources for you.  Later today I will again host one of our family traditions, the Easter Egg Hunt. Although my son is 24 years old he still insists on the hunt, and of course, his Easter Egg Basket.  Family traditions can come from all kinds of moments, Easter Egg hunts, summer days, and paintings of birch trees...what's important is that you remember them.

Center for Studies in Oral Tradition

Indian Country Wisconsin - Ojibwe Oral Tradition
Oneida Oral Tradition

Kentucky Bacon Oral History Project - "In Kentucky, curing bacon and hams has been a necessity of life for generations. In more recent years, this tradition has been in retreat. ... There remain, however, a select few artisans who cling faithfully to family traditions." This site provides audio clips and edited transcripts of oral histories of some of these artisans.

In The First Person - Over 2,500 collections of oral history from around the world: personal narratives, letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and oral histories; a goldmine of information.
This site is no longer active but information is still available via The Wayback Machine at the link below.

Oral Tradition Journal -This is one fabulous resource you will return to again and again. The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri has generously placed twenty-two years of their journal online. The site contains nearly 500 articles and 10,000 pages with the contents downloadable as pdf files. The site is also searchable by keyword or author name.  Thanks to Jo Radner for passing this site along.

Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide -A 35 page guide for collecting oral histories from family and community members, including tips, forms and questions to get you started.

Family Folklore: How to Collect Your Own Family Folklore - Every family needs a Tradition Bearer so why not you? Produced to accompany the exhibition, The Grand Generation, Memory, Mastery’, and Legacy, this guide will lead you through the process of discovering and recording your own family traditions and folklore.


Ancestry Chart

Family Tree

My Grandfather's Book

My Grandmother's Book


Family Traditions - UNC Education - Grade 1

Family Traditions - Utah Education Network

Learning to Give - Traditions of the Family

Read Write Think - My Family Traditions: A Class Book and a Potluck Lunch

Karen Chace  2011 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my newsletter via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.
Please note, websites change at a rapid pace and weblinks may change or break without notice. I cannot be responsible for redirected or broken links.  At the time of this posting all links were in working order. Thank you for understanding.