Today I heard the saying above. I heard it on TV and when I looked it up online there are several places that are calling it a Chinese Proverb whereas other websites are calling it an English Proverb... I am not sure where this saying originated, but it made me think about genealogy - even though I'm sure this saying does not originally apply to genealogy or family history.
As soon as I heard this, I thought about the many hours I have spent scrolling through rolls of microfilm at the Family History Library, or the hard-to-read images found online. I have gotten so frustrated sometimes because the microfilm or digital images were simply too faded, damaged or were not filmed properly. Time after time I have asked myself, "What's the use of filming this record when the page is too faded or the operator did not use proper settings on the camera?" Even though many records on microfilm may be faded, at least it is some sort of record, right?
I have memories. You have memories. We all have memories of various things in our lives. Some of my earliest memories go back to when I was about 5 years old - back to when we lived in South Salt Lake before we moved to Taylorsville. Although I have these memories today, if I don't write them down they will eventually be lost forever. Isn't that why many of us do genealogy - to uncover the past and preserve our heritage for future generations?
My short-term memory can be so bad, I sometimes forget why I left my office and walked into the kitchen. I have to return to the office in order to remember I just wanted a drink our of the fridge. Even those people I know who have amazing memories and can remember every single detail about everything and everyone, eventually those best memories will disappear if they are not preserved.
I have made an effort this year to be better at blogging about my family history. I have published more posts on here in the last month or two than I probably did all last year. I have also been asking my grandparents a lot more questions about themselves and other family members, and writing those stories down. As I have mentioned, I am so fortunate to have two of my grandparents living to ask questions and hear stories, but if I don't write them down for others to read it will be as if they never told me in the first place.
My mom was asking me a couple weeks ago about different programs to record her own history. We talked about several, but in the end I told her that I typically keep all of my genealogy and family history stories in Microsoft Word. I tend to be skeptical using other programs, even those made for genealogy, because you never know what is going to happen to that program or company down the road. Sure, Word may one day be a thing of the past, but I think I would have enough time to move the text files from Word into whatever new and improved program there may be.
I guess the point of this post I want to make is that it doesn't matter how you record your memories, stories and genealogy - the important thing is to make sure you actually do it.
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, product manager, ux designer, computer geek, and traveler.