Preserving Heritage: The Importance of Keeping a Legacy

My Mother's House
“My Mother’s House”  c. 1950

Ancestry.com is a popular website — according to Alexa.com it ranks 230 in the US. Compete.com reports Ancestry.com received 8.5 million visitors and 25 million visits in January 2011. What motivates people to visit Ancestry.com? A desire to map family history and preserve heritage. If you have never visited this site, the family tree functionality is amazing.

After working at the Southern Oregon Historical Society during my senior year in college, I developed a love for history and heritage. I worked as the photography intern where I was in charge of 25,000 images from the Peter Britt collection. I saw the most inspiring images and learned incredible stories from the past. This experience taught me the importance of recording family memories.

One of my most recent projects is called Legacy Preservation Society. I help people downsize and condense years of personal belongings through the creation of memory books. Here is an excerpt of one story that my mother-in-law recorded from her childhood after the recent passing of her mother (pictured above):

“As I gaze at the house, images flash before my eyes like turning a kaleidoscope to reveal a vibrant array of colorful scenes hidden deep in my memory.   I see my baby sister sitting in her highchair while my mother worked vigorously on her hands and knees polishing the pine hardwood floors.  Years later, we came home from school, dismissed early on November 22, 1963, to find Mother weeping in front of the TV, the only furniture not moved out of the living room, polishing rags cast aside.  We spent the next few days with only a few chairs drawn up around the TV, cleaning schedules abandoned, as we mourned our nation’s loss.

From my bedroom window I watch my father move slowly through a deep, late spring snow to a house across the road to carry two little boys and help their mother to our house.   The heavy snow had downed power lines, but our house was safe and warm thanks to the old coal furnace and a propane gas stove.  Friends and neighbors slept on makeshift bedding spread all over the top floor.  There was something cooking in the kitchen at all hours.  Later, after the snow had melted, we found plastic containers of food in the back yard, forgotten after being stored in nature’s refrigerator.” – B. West

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