In Your Home

Some Ideas On Preserving Your Family’s History


Today in our own families some may know who are in our vintage photos but in time it is forgotten. One very good way to preserve your family’s history in your own home is to be sure to label the back of family photographs in your albums or on the back of framed photos with names, locations and dates perhaps in pencil so as not to bleed through.  From time to time The Salisbury Historical Society inherits lovely photos or portrait photos that do not indicate names or approximate dates.  This is a loss to future historians and family genealogists.

Digital Photography:

With the advent of digital photography many people are storing their family photos on computer or “in the cloud”. While this is a far less expensive than prints there are huge risks if only stored on devices. Computer crashes and house fires can wipe them out in the same way fires can destroy photo albums. Backups, sharing, and multiple photo prints can preserve your family history. There are ways to digitalize old slides and old movies for easier storage away from the actual slides.  For many this is all a formidable task as the piles of slides may be high but to lose ones family history is very difficult. You will also notice that your slides are degrading in color over time.

It is true that in any family there only a few who may show an interest in history but on occasion a history bug will “bite” a descendent and having these resources is like finding gold!

Oral Histories:

Another way is to preserve family history is to interview your family seniors. In the book by Dr. Paul Shaw available at the Salisbury Free Library entitled  “They Said It In Salisbury” (some excerpts are included on this website) it is striking to note that most of these seniors are not longer with us however their memories are. We are grateful to the forethought of Dr. Paul Shaw and helpers who created the project at that time. With just a smart phone or recorder it is easy to collect memories from your elders. If digital, they can be stored on your and other family member’s computer or shared with your historical society and are so valuable in future time.

Traditional Family Recipes:

While it is true that many Americans do not do much cooking these days there will be those descendants who would just love to try out one of  “Grandma’s tried and true recipes”. 

Personal note from the webmaster: “My Italian mother had several sisters and though they claimed they followed the same recipe from their mother, we could tell each one’s sauce (gravy) by distinctive taste. We have no written recipes to discern what on earth they did differently! It has baffled the family”.

There are many cookbooks and online recipes these days but following one’s mother, aunt or grandmothers recipe for something is a wonderful and priceless experience of connection.  

Memoirs and Diaries:

“They Said It In Salisbury” contains simple accounts of life as one experienced it in a particular time frame in our town and are very interesting to read. In time just the ordinary things become historically interesting. Those were compiled from oral histories however the Society does have written material that is quite riveting.  

This town continues to change and will continue to do so in time. A written personal impression of our times and family life is something some of us wish we started years ago. It is never too late to start even a simple daily reflection of own’s experience and day to day life and preserve a little bit of personal history for our future generations.  

Today many people use social media to log in their status. Social media postings such as Facebook can include photos and are often used to reflect ones daily experiences however these experiences tend to be the ones we heavily edit for privacy from the general public or based on what might be interesting enough to post at all. While these communication are wonderful ways to remain current with family and friends at a distance, expose others to the goings on in our town etc. questions remain among cultural historians about the long term effects of switching to social and digital media over hard copies for historical material. Time will tell. In the meantime nothing can replace “Grandma’s Diary”  in her very own handwriting, if you are lucky enough to have one.