Presentation Notes: 2006-2007

Remembering the Past for the Future

Presented by Dr. Susan Baur and Tim Vaughan - February 14, 2007

Presentation Notes - Dr. David Martin

According to Dr. Susan Baur, there are three dimensions to remembering: the personal, the physical, and the family/community. The personal dimension relates to knowing who you are, and connects with Erik Erikson's stages of development (developing trust as a baby, developing autonomy, developing identity, and by about age 50 developing integrity versus isolation or despair). There are four types of reminiscences-productive, which leads to the least depression about the past; regrets about the past; no interest in reminiscing at all; and feeling a reservoir of memories that one wants to forget. Reminiscences require an audience to listen, but sometimes the audience is missing.

The second dimension is physical. Engaging in reminiscence has been shown to actually increase biological immunity if people remember things that are accompanied by an emotional aspect.

The third dimension is family/community. Telling one's origins makes people feel they can fight adversity-knowing the past is an anchor.

For people involved in genealogy, being able to hand down their reminiscences is an important aspect because they are preserved for future generations. Documentation of memories is important and easier now because of the availability of many resources. She reported that 39% of Americans are collectors of things and 33% are involved today in some form of genealogy. It is essential to organize one's information, and to label family objects about not only who will inherit them but also to include the object's "story".

A teacher of history, Tim Vaughan is an oral historian in addition to being a videographer. He pointed out that our grown children need our stories, and that we should try to leave a video record for our descendants. He emphasized the importance of documentation and having a connection to events in the past. Then we must find a way to preserve that documentation-through video-recordings and audiorecordings. Tim's videos of individuals allow them to tell their stories and to merge them with the family's old photographs adding a musical background. And lastly, he encourages people to celebrate each person's accomplishments and their thoughts on life.

When interviewing family members for making such recordings, one must plan the questions carefully and make them open-ended; an example of a question would be, "Tell me what you have learned from different people in your life." Tim has a company which produces such projects and information can be gained from his website:

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.