Tapping into our oral history


It is a challenge watching television for more than a few minutes without seeing a commercial talking about telephone data packages (fast, better, more, cheaper, etc.). Just a few years ago, we were just hoping that that bulky bag phone we had in our car could even pick up a satellite tower.  We didn’t even know about data.  Lately, I’ve seen a number of offerings for “unlimited data.”  Isn’t it exciting to know that with such a package on our phone, we’d never again have to worry about whether we should save our data or go ahead and look up who was Howard Taft’s vice-presidential running mate.  Or, we would never again be unable to see what the Kardashians are doing today.  Who wouldn’t want unlimited data?

I often think about how much knowledge and oral history we lose when one of our more “senior” colleagues leaves the company. Or, when we lose the last of our Great Aunt’s on our Mother’s side.  When they leave, they take so much with them.  They know what worked in the past and what didn’t.  They know why no one invites Uncle Joe to family events anymore.  They understand that critical manufacturing process better than anyone else ever did.  They know who was in that picture with your Mom at the carnival.  They know so much that goes with them when they are gone.

In a way, when we lose a treasured senior colleague or elder family member, we lose data that can never be retrieved. Some of these great stories are gone forever.  No one else will understand what they did.  And, sadly, we don’t take the time to capture that knowledge before they are gone.  Oh, how I wish that I had recorded with my smart phone “data” the stories about my grandparents or parents from their brothers or sisters before they were gone.  How valuable would the knowledge be from all the Scientific Fellows that have retired the last ten years from our company?

Over the years, I have personally written down many of the stories and events of our family history to preserve them for my children and grandchildren. Perhaps, they will never care to read them, but if they do, they are available.  I am considering taping some of these stories, so they can hear them first-hand someday.

If there are things in your history or in our work history that need captured, there is no better day to begin than today. Why not take some time and write down or record just one story or event per week for a year?  Why not capture personal stories from older family members at family reunions?  I believe that there will come a day when we were glad we did this.  And, what a treasure to leave our future generations?  It is worth a thought… right?

Have a most excellent day! It is possible that this could be a “top ten” day.  Be ready for it!

3 thoughts on “Tapping into our oral history

  1. With Thanksgiving coming up a very appropriate post! This is our chance to sit around the table and listen! Thanks for all you do, Eldon!


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