I was visiting an old friend recently who I had not seen in some years. We talked about our lives and our jobs and all that had happened since we had last met. She was very interested to hear about Ancestry and immediately began to tell me about her father.

Her father passed away in 2009, but it was only recently that she and her brother had decided to sell his house. They started to clear it out and pack away furniture, paintings, ornaments; all the things we accumulate during our lives. When they were clearing the attic, my friend recalls lifting a small cardboard box from a dark corner. Covered in spider webs and thick with dust, she sensed there was something important about that box.

‘I don’t know what it was, when I lifted it and it rattled, I knew-well I guess I thought there was something special in that box’, she said.

The box contained tapes and those tapes contained hours of recordings. Her father had bought a recorder back when nobody had one, certainly nobody from their quiet rural village anyway. Each tape held precious recordings of interviews her father had conducted with his elderly relatives and neighbors. Some recordings were funny, some were sad, but all contained information on their families back through the generations. This information would have been lost had her father not had the interest to record their stories.

My friend has been busy converting the tapes to digital and writing down the family tree information she has gleaned from the recordings. She admits to not having had an urge to research her family history until she found that box. Now with the information on those tapes and the records available on Ancestry she can build her family tree for future generations to appreciate.

Could she have found records and built her tree without those tapes? Of course she could, but the tapes were the catalyst and the inspiration to build her tree. The recordings will save her time and more importantly, add colour and stories to her family tree that records alone could not.

When it comes to family history research many of us are creatures of habit. We research and record data about our family with care and precision. Often we can find ourselves following tried and tested methods of research, building our trees meticulously over time. However, with such dedication can come isolation. Isolation from resources closer to home which can help build out your family tree and add colourful stories to each branch. Technology has come a long way since my friend’s father decided to record his relatives’ stories. These days most of us carry a recording device in our pocket but never think to use our phone to record our family’s stories.

Have you ever thought to record your family’s stories?

Wherever possible, record your parents’ and grandparents’ stories. If you are a grandparent – record your stories for your grandchildren.

Records are the foundation of our trees; family stories are the colourful leaves to fill the branches!






  1. Bonnie Valko

    This is the one thing that I am really passionate about, learning my ancestors stories so that they are’nt just statistics. Thank you for reminding me about the tape recorder!! Bonnie

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