Family history and genealogy can be overwhelming terms. Tracking down dates and filling out pedigree charts may seem like something Aunt Donna should be working on for you.
But preserving legacies doesn’t have to be a stuffy hobby for the elderly.
Two companies in Utah Valley are spearheading the revolution of genealogy. M:4 takes a technological approach, while My Family Tales turns genealogy into an easy-to-read storybook.
The MTV generation requires more interaction and multimedia than the traditional family history book provides, says David Hunt, partner with M:4, a company that specializes in creating personalized DVDs for families.
“We need to empower the resources we have to propagate family history to the entire family,” Hunt says. “Life is a multimedia experience, and families should articulate their stories in ways the rising generation can enjoy.”
M:4 (which stands for Malachi 4) takes each family through the process step-by-step. Photos, cassette tapes, videos and journals are gathered. For example, if an old tape of a family funeral can be located, this can be included on the DVD.
M:4 also interviews the family members and asks them to candidly relate specific stories and memories.
“We become like a member of the family when we are working on these projects,” Hunt says.
The end result is rewarding.
“Because DVDs are cost-effective to replicate, copies can be given to the entire family, which enables everyone to have access to photos, recipes, interviews and more,” Hunt says.
Filmstrips, cassettes and photographs that are starting to deteriorate can be salvaged and preserved on a DVD format.
“Books are great, but this is a different medium for a different time,” says Chris Jones, president of M:4.
Creating a family DVD starts at $500 and can go up to $150,000, based on the scope of the project.
Life is full of stories. The best ones get told again and again, with details being passed through generations.
“The essence of a story never dies,” says Sharon Gibb Murdoch, chief executive officer of Orem’s My Family Tales. “If it is preserved well, the generations can treasure it.”
My Family Tales provides a way for anyone to become an author of family history. With user-friendly kits (which range from “Life Story” to “Baby book”), you can create a 28-page storybook that captures the highlights and is suitable to read to children or share as adults.
“It takes less than three hours to create a family history,” Murdoch says. “We want people to preserve memories and stories so they can be passed on.”
Murdoch believes storybooking is the new scrapbooking.
“Family history is preserved by sharing stories that highlight the experiences and perspectives of each of us,” she says. “Everyone can write a storybook.”
For more information on creating a family DVD, contact M:4 at (801) 830-4664. My Family Tales can be reached at (801) 235-9539.
Tips for preserving your history
• Start now. Don’t let another day pass without being committed to preserving family stories.
• Pick a format that fits your family budget and time constraints.
• Take photographs and video at important events, but also of every-day routines.
• Record funny things your kids say.
• Work to gather stories and information from parents and grandparents.
• Make it a family project. Ask everyone, “What should we name our family storybook or DVD?”