By Karen Coaster
Our lives are peppered with “If only” moments.
“If only I’d bought a house 20 years earlier. If only I’d worked harder at school, if only I’d taken my parents’ advice and not gone to that nightclub”.
Around the time of ANZAC Day one of my most prominent “if only” moments involves wishing I had captured my Dad’s memories of his war days and mum’s take on how and where they met as well as discovering if Pops really was a submarine captain.
Most people have heaps of old photos of their grandparents, parents and their friends taken before they were born, but too many of the really interesting ones carry no identifying information, such as names and dates.
What a waste.
Fortunately, however, there is a growing interest in our personal heritage, pushed along by TV shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” and websites such as ancestry.com and finderscafe.com.au that’s leading to more and more families sitting the oldies down and getting them to relive their past in their own words.
My daughter did it with her Nanna at her retirement village and discovered a woman who danced the night away when in her early 20s, had a wicked sense of humour and could tell risque jokes with the best of them.
How Pa had courted her and nearly missed out, how one of Nana’s sisters, after whom she was named, was a statuesque homebody, and how her Dad (great grandfather Gordo) played representative football.
The internet, is full of sites aimed at encouraging visitors to interview their old folk for posterity with one site Grandparents Memories tailored for grandkids as well as their parents.
“Our Childhood Memories Interview Kit shows you, or a grandchild, how to video record and edit an interview with a grandparent about their childhood memories.”, says the site’s opening.
“All you need is a smartphone. We give you 100 questions to ask, guidance on how to shoot it and step-by-step video lessons on how to edit the video on a smartphone (adding images, music, cutting bits out etc) using a free video editor.”
Grandparents Memories was created by Dylan Mangan – an Irish teenager who enjoys shooting and editing videos with his smartphone.
He video interviewed his grandmother about her childhood and when he edited the clips into a video he added some old photos of her as a child. The family loved it and Dylan decided to turn it into a business.
Those endless boxes of old family photos you can’t bear to part with, even though they have very little or no identifying notations at all, may not be such a lost cause after all thanks to another online organisation called Finders Cafe.
It is a website which can connect you with your history artefacts, including such things as photographs, medals, drawings, portraits, manuscripts and diaries etc. It was set up in Queensland five years ago with the aim of transporting historical artefacts from bottom draws and dusty cupboards everywhere into a central location, accessible to history researchers, big and small, around the world.
There is a way you just might be able to get some outside help in discovering more information about who or what the pictures are and even make some money at the same time.
# Let SheSociety help you capture the colourful past of a relative or someone else you know. We are always on the lookout for back stories of ordinary Australians who have lived extraordinary lives.
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.