Living History: Capturing and Sharing Stories from Relatives Today

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Tom Cormier

We’ve heard a lot about Genealogists using TechSmith products to capture their research. Be it screenshots of database searches or videos of their family history to share with others, screen capturing is a natural fit with genealogy.

However, much of the work genealogists do is long after their ancestors have passed. Many family historians focus on uncovering family stories from years ago, yet family members that are around today often have tons of stories to tell.

Our genealogist friends have proven that TechSmith products are good for capturing history, but they’re also good for documenting history. And that’s where Tom Cormier comes in.

Proactive family history

Tom and his colleagues founded a group called Legacy Stories to give people a way to record living history — the history which living family members can share directly. With Camtasia, Tom and his colleagues are able to capture images and add short audio recordings to narrate what viewers see.

“The idea of recording the living history of family can be daunting,” said Tom. “But we ask them to start small and keep it simple. Once they see what they can create with Camtasia, the gates are open to many more opportunities.”

In practice, Tom asks clients to find five photos that they want to share with others. He then walks clients through the process of creating and saving digital copies of those images. After the digital versions are available, Tom has clients import the images into Camtasia where they are able to record themselves narrating each image.

Once clients finish narrating the images, Tom shows them how to save final versions of the files on archival media. This gives the files a better chance at standing the test of time. The process is quick, simple and, according to Tom, just the beginning.

Sharing family history

Clients often share the content they have created at family reunions or during the holidays when everyone can get together. According to Tom, this tends to create a ripple effect among families who realize how simple it is to record a short narration and share it with others. Eventually, more and more family members record their history and create a library of information for descendants to appreciate.

“One of the popular ways of sharing content that we’ve found is when older adults are going into new situations,” said Tom. “If someone is moving into an assisted care facility, they can create and share a video about their past to give other residents a better sense of who they are.”

Tom and his colleagues have also noticed more family members getting involved in the family history process. Rather than delegating all the work to one family historian, multiple generations are participating in the process by adding their voices to narrations.

Looking forward

Tom and his colleagues are expanding the network of advisors being trained to become Certified Legacy Advisors, a requirement of being involved with the International Association of Storykeepers (I-ASK), which provides a strong network of trained family historians, memoir writers and more.

“There’s no telling what media formats we’ll be using in 100 years,” said Tom. “But we can be pretty sure that if we give our descendants a reason to find a DVD player, they’ll find one.”

Watch New Legacy Stories Home Page Tour from Thomas Cormier on Vimeo.

To learn more about Tom and Legacy Stories, visit LegacyStories.org. Follow Tom on Twitter:

  • Pat White

    You really got the message across for Legacy Stories! Thank you!

    • http://blogs.techsmith.com/ Will Verchereau

      So glad you like the article, Pat! We really enjoyed learning about the work Legacy Stories is doing. Can’t wait to see and hear more from you all in the future!