Sunday, January 4, 2015

Family History and the Importance of Talking

Ezra Wylie's invention buckled cotton more tightly together.
Today I spoke with Heather Wylie on my I Remember podcast. Heather is an amateur genealogist who is tracing the family history of Wylies and Whites. She keeps a rather detailed and inspiring website An Unexpected Discovery as well as a terrific blog that would serve as a great model or mentor text for anyone thinking about writing and sharing their own family history.

During the interview, Heather detailed the life of her paternal great grandfather, Ezra Frantz, who was born and raised on a family farm in Illinois and who travelled the country as life-long inventor.

Browsing Heather's website and blog, and listening to her on this interview, one can't help but feel armed with the best advice of all when it comes to discovering your family's past: start with yourself.

One of the things that sticks most with me from my conversation with Heather is her stressing the importance of talking. It seems silly to have to remind ourselves to talk to one another, but Heather makes a strong point. So often, we have to get over ourselves and pick up the phone or go for a visit, and make the effort to talk to our older relatives. They are a wealth of knowledge, experience, and stories that will never be tapped unless we ask them to share. And so many of our older relatives are not on social media and need the benefit of our speaking with them face to face.

People are also shy--especially people in our own families. But if take Heather's advice, and start with ourselves, then we can be the ones who get up, leave the house, and keep our family narratives alive.

The "I Remember" podcast featuring Heather's interview can be played directly below or downloaded for free from iTunes.

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