Reconnect, Share and Learn – the time is now

Earlier this month, the State Library of Victoria hosted its twelfth annual Family History Feast. Dealing with the subject of World War I, a range of fascinating subjects were discussed throughout the day, including the role of Australian women in the war and soldier settlement in Victoria. Most interesting was the varying methods now used by researchers to trace the histories of those who partook in those events many years ago.

As part of this year’s Family History Feast program, State Trustees was honoured to address attendees about the importance of establishing a family legacy, and of keeping that legacy alive through shared memories and cherished possessions.

Taking time out from our busy lives to spend time with family and share stories is a practice that is disappearing from our contemporary world. While the arrival of new technologies and expanding reach of the internet has made accessing basic family history easier than ever before, our ability to illustrate this history with first-hand anecdotes and stories is becoming increasingly challenging.

The time-poor modern lives we lead, as well as a lack of awareness of the value of sharing precious family stories and items, sadly means family histories and their glorious idiosyncrasies often get lost along the way.

Soon, we will reignite the State Trustees brand around the theme of stories and legacy. The aim is to encourage Victorians to pass on their stories and cherished things – in person – to their loved ones.

We believe that discovering or rediscovering cherished things and sharing the stories behind them is a process that will allow families to reconnect with their heritage and help them foster a deeper sense of understanding as to who they really are and the values they stand for.

Everyone has a nonmaterial legacy. Often it’s hard to define, but once discovered it can prove to be far more valuable than any material legacy that could be inherited. Scratching beneath the surface and identifying this legacy can ensure that a lifetime of relationships, accomplishments and values live on through the stories and the cherished things left behind.

One of my items is a publication from 1993 that contains my mother’s research into her father’s [my grandfather’s] ancestry, originating from France, the research had to be done in french and without the aid of the internet.

It was the discoveries, the stories, the photo’s that were contained in the research that triggered my interest in discovering even more about my ancestors. It’s also what triggered my interest in genetics.

Creating a Will and including cherished and personalised items is a practice we encourage all Victorians to examine and undertake. By bringing this important issue to the fore we hope that Victorian families will take tangible steps to protect their legacy and share important family stories while they still have the capacity to do so.

Family legacies are decided by families. Missing out on the opportunity to sit down and share a story behind a sentimental item or a life moment with a family member is too important an opportunity to waste. Please make the time, share a story and do it in the living years. Future generations will thank you for it.