Alan Crosby: Don’t let your memories go to waste

By Jon Bauckham, 3 December 2015 - 10:53am

Census returns and certificates will always remain, but the precious records inside our heads will be lost unless we act now, says Alan Crosby

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 3 December 2015
Alan Crosby
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Speak to elderly relatives and make sure they're memories are recorded (Getty Images)

It is vital to make sure that stories and anecdotes passed down from older generations are properly recorded (Photo: Getty Images)

An elderly lady who I’ve known for many a long year has just contacted me and asked what she might do with all her research notes and the documents, transcripts and other records which have been the fruits of her labour.

It’s a real problem – she said that her children won’t be interested and will otherwise just put them in a skip when she’s gone.

Many of us know the same feeling, I’m sure. This particular lady did a great deal of investigation, 30 or 40 years ago, into the history of a small hamlet not far away from where we both live. Her ancestors came from that particular place and she wanted to explore their world.

Much of what she found is readily accessible in standard sources – Ordnance Survey maps, census returns and parish registers. But she also interviewed a number of elderly inhabitants at the time, who would have been born in the latter part of Victoria’s reign. That’s the sort of information that is unique – it could so easily be lost and yet it’s so precious.

I’ve told her that I’ll gladly take her papers and help to sort them out, and make sure that they aren’t lost to posterity.

It’s so easy to let these things go – talking to Pat has reminded me, yet again, that there’s so much stored in my own head... not so much the names and dates and places, because I’ve got copies of the “official records” and they’re all properly documented.

No, it’s the stories and the anecdotes, the little snippets of information, casually given by relatives long-gone, which need to be written down and preserved.

Get down to it, Alan!
 

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities

 

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