In the modern era, every family and local community can cultivate its own history, endowing living people with meanings inherited from the people of the past, by means of today's computer-based information and communication technologies. A new profession is emerging, family historians, serving the wider public by assisting in collection and analysis of fascinating data, by teaching talented amateur historians, and by producing complete narratives. Essential are the skills and technologies required to preserve and connect photos, movies, videos, diaries, memoirs, correspondence, artefacts and even architecture such as homes. Online genealogical services are well established sources of official government records, but usually not for recent decades, and not covering the valuable records of legal, medical, and religious organizations. Information can be shared and interpreted by family members through oral history interviews, social media, and online private archives such as wikis and shared file depositories.
This book explores a wide variety of online information sources and achieves coherence by documenting and interpreting the history of a particular extended American family on the basis of 9 decades of movies and videos, 17 decades of photographs, and centuries of documents. Starting now, any family may begin to preserve their current experiences for the historians of the future, but this will require social as well as technical innovations. This book is the essential resource, providing the fundamental principles, effective methods, and fascinating questions required to make our past live again.