A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there are times when a few words are priceless. That's certainly the case with old photos of family members.
Ever looked at an old photo and wondered who the lovely lady is in the picture? Is that a much younger Aunt Sara or Cousin Roberta? Ever wondered when and where a favorite picture was taken?
Anyone who's ever experienced that sort of frustration will appreciate an innovation from Internet startup LegacyStories.org, a website that provides a safe and easy way to give voice to cherished memories, family histories and personal legacies and pass them on to children and grandchildren.
The site is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs, Tom Cormier and Dennis Slack. Its signature feature is the ability to upload vintage photos and record a narrative, describing the photo with the user's own computer microphone, essentially creating talking pictures.
Cormier explains the importance of a few words. "We keep old family photos because they're so special and meaningful to us, but the people in them may as well be strangers to our grandchildren. With our system, members can give voice to their vintage photos, telling the story behind the event or about the special person."
Members are discovering a wide range of uses for this technology, both professionally and personally.
Butch Hibben, a genealogist from Corona California, narrates photos of his ancestors to inform and educate his family in an engaging way. "Being able to tell the story behind an ancestor photo in a way that captures the attention of our youth has been especially appealing to me."
The free site has amassed an impressive collection of living history, all being preserved on a series of cloud-based servers. The partners say their goal is to build an educational research library that represents the living history of the 20th century.
"We want to give every citizen a chance to secure an honored place in history and make it as easy as possible to contribute their photo narratives to the collection," says Stack.
Connie Bradshaw and Betty Reed, Certified legacy advisors from Jacksonville, Florida, have recorded photo stories of local members of the Society of the Sons (and Daughters) of the American Revolution. "These are the direct descendants of the patriots who fought for and formed our nation," says Bradshaw. "Hearing their voices tell these stories are the closest thing to being there."
The site serves as the official archive and repository for the Living Legacy Project, whose mission is the preserve the living history of the 20th century.
It was one of the first to be Certified by FamilySearch.org, the world's largest collection (3.3 billion records and counting) of free genealogy resources. That certification allows LegacyStories members to link their stories to the records of family members in the FamilySearch database.
Cormier espouses, "By providing all citizens a way to secure their legacy, we hope to preserve the past, enrich the present and inspire the future."