• by Dave Miller

A high tech way of remembering a loved one.

Updated: May 14, 2020

I am occasionally asked by folks who are beginning their genealogy, "how do I start?". My comment is always "start with yourself!". Write down information about your life, education, hobbies, and trips you took during your life. Then have a talk with your parents, brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or if they are still around even your grandparents. With the advancement in technology today, taping a conversation using your cell phone or video camera is a great option. Video taping a conversation can family or parents can allow you to record these living family members and give them an opportunity to talk about their own lives and even what they remember about previous generations. If fact, you can start by sitting down yourself and record a conversation about your life.

To me, genealogy is more than names and dates. Names and dates are important in any genealogy pedigree chart no doubt but so are facts and details about those previous ancestors that can result from a video recording with a living parent or even a grandparent. That is something you aren't going to find in a pedigree chart.

Marion Miller around 1978.

In some cases, you may discover a little more information the further back you go into your ancestry with these taped conversations. Being able to write down, or in this electronic era, taping an interview with your cell phone or video camera, allows you to document quotes and facts provided by your parents and other family members you record. This will also enhance your research and provide the information you have learned to be passed along to future generations.

I recently lost my mother who was a few months short of her 96th birthday. During the past few years, I was able to record conversations with her as she talked about her growing up years. She also discussed her grandparents and other family members. Several pictures of my mom in the video depict her life especially during her childhood. Since then, I have been able to produce short videos using a simple video editor using just my laptop. One video is a compilation of several pictures showing her life. That video only runs about 45 seconds and is essentially a montage of her life from childhood until about a year or so ago.

An example of a video editor using Filmora9.

This video editor program that I have been using is called Filmora 9 from Wondershare although there are others out there that you can use. Some editors are free while others require a small fee for use of the software. Video editors have helped me produce these various photos, apply transitions between pictures and select various types of music that I used within a segment. In most cases, I load the segment onto a Youtube platform and then onto my website. I eventually upload the video onto other sites such as Facebook or Instagram. You can make the video public so anyone can view them or you can also keep the videos private so that it is shown to only the individuals you want to see them. This allows other family and friends to enjoy these videos about your family members. I have stored the video onto a flash drive or in a cloud folder so I have a completed version for safe keeping. I can easily send it off to any family member who would like a copy.

Losing a parent or any loved one is a difficult time for yourself and all family members. However, technology today can provide the surviving family and friends comfort and the opportunity to use pictures and videos of family members who are no longer with us. Certainly, something in previous research that has certainly been lacking through the years. This will allow generations from now see and hear great-great grandma talk about her life and family. A lasting tribute in your family history will continue for many many years.

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