It used to be that genealogists and family historians kept all their
information together in a single location, usually sturdy boxes or cartons. Most of them were about the size of a file or bank box, which are not too large to be cumbersome or so small that they might get lost in the shuffle.
Within these boxes and cartons, most family information is categorized by person, with each file folder or envelope storing the contents of that person. As they would discover or uncover more — documents, photographs, and notes — they would slip them inside. And, as most collections grew, they would index every folder into a bigger system.
Living legacies are preserved much the same way, but organized differently.
Since constructing a legacy can sometimes be more complex than the framework of genealogical records, they can be preserved the same way, but organized differently.
Instead of confining each individual to a single folder, people who are building a legacy (especially a living legacy) might organize the contents by their interests. These interests or accomplishments could be anything, depending on the person.
Does the person have any hobbies? Do they enjoy cooking, and have any special recipes? Do they enjoy reading, and have a list of their favorite books? Do or did they have a military career or perhaps taken a leadership role within their profession? Do they remember any folktales or family stories that they would like to preserve for future generations?
“All of these questions become relative in order to make a complete picture,” says Richard Becker, CTO of Celebrating Legacy. “And organizing these areas of interest will help people construct the story they want to tell. Depending the person, you might include places where they lived or historic events that they witnessed too.”
The contents of each box can become the resource files for each online legacy profile. Even if some of the information isn’t uploaded for digital presentation, such collections become the source of their online story — information that ought to be collected as people live their legacy rather than after the fact.
“My son, for example, is currently involved in tae kwon do and we have all his medals, awards, belts, and pictures saved in various locations,” Becker said. “It’s in our best interest to pick out some examples and save them in a separate file (or take pictures and make copies), which will allow us to chronicle his achievements. Then, when we make or edit his living legacy page, we can easily open the file and pick out the items that best represent this interest, preserving them digitally.”
The smallest details are often the ones that matter the most.
Becker says his son may or may not consider tae kwon do important in his life 60 years from now, even if it seems important now. For his children or grandchildren, it might be important or even inspiring.
“Every now and again I mention something to my children that I did when I was younger and they are often surprised because I haven’t pursued certain interests in some time,” Becker said. “They’re immediately interested in the stories, even if it isn’t something they might want to do. It creates an immediate bond because they can relate to the interest, whether it’s a specific sport, activity, or even a job.”
Celebrating Legacy will make sharing these stories more accessible and permanent. Even a few pictures or stories can be preserved online for select people to see or read, creating a more complete picture than if everything is scattered about, tucked away in boxes that are never opened or briefly shared once or twice and then forgotten.
“When you think about it, anyone’s life can easily fill a Wiki page,” says Becker. “You don’t have to be famous. You only need a little organization and a place to preserve it.”