Sunday, November 18, 2007

Helping future historians

During recent talk, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin lamented that today's lack of personal diaries and letters will impact research and findings of historians in the future. Noted that e-mail isn't saved like letters and thoughts don't get recorded in diaries/letters.

Many years ago my best friend from childhood, Mark, died in a car accident. His mother sent stack of postcards/letters I sent to him that he saved -- including grade school valentines, long letters from summer camps, postcards from vacations, letters from college, birthday and Christmas cards sent over 20 year period. Unusual to recognize myself through decades of transition -- even changes in types of holiday cards sent -- (e.g., snail in Santa hat with message "ho ho ho - escargot" - yikes!) -- and what stressed or excited about. What happens to personal and professional history in times of email? Email is too easy; and opportunity for expediency doesn't encourage writing letters anymore - plus threat of personal thoughts in email accidentally sent to others.

Thoughts to help future historians:
1. Record association's history - if no significant recorded organizational history, discover/write it;
2. What about time capsules or predictions for future? One association got future predictions 25 years ago - and will soon release;
3. If haven't written personal notes, think about doing it - someone might save it;
4. Send letter to childhood friend, children, someone important to you - might be surprised by emotion of what thought brings to you - and them;
5. If someone died, and you have memory to share with family - do it. Even many years later. They want those memories.

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