What one library is doing to preserve the stories

So The Legal Genealogist will be taking a bit of a break tomorrow from a major work project and dashing off to Bohemia, Long Island, New York, to talk about conflicting evidence with the folks at the Connetquot Public Library.1

I’ve spoken there before, and it’s always a huge amount of fun. Great facility, great folks.

And I’ve looked before at what the Connetquot Public Library does as part of its commitment to genealogy and family history research. But until yesterday I’d overlooked one thing the Library is doing that can serve as a model for all of us in preserving the stories of those who’ve gone before.

Take a look at the feature on the Library’s website called Memory Lane: Connetquot, New York. Or, in the Library’s words, “Take a stroll with us down Memory Lane, a place we have created for people of the Connetquot community to share their memories of our district and stories of the people who lived and worked here.”2

CPL Memory LaneThere are, as of now, 39 chapters in the feature, ranging from a firefighter’s memories of 60 years as a volunteer with the West Sayville-Oakdale fire department3 to the tale of two determined women who lived in Oakdale in the last years of the 19th and first years of the 20th century.4

You can read — and watch and listen to — the stories of the Bohemia Union Cemetery: how it was established in 1873… and how at least one resident heard something very spooky there on one New Year’s Eve long ago.5

You can find out about what it was like to be among the Czech immigrants who left so much of a mark on the community in “A Czech Immigrant’s Story.”6 And then maybe drool over the story of Cerny’s Bakery.7 And find out more about the Czechoslovak Society of America Hall in “stories of a time when Bohemia, New York, somewhat resembled Mayberry, U.S.A, but with a distinct accent from its Czech heritage.”8

Find about about Bronco Charlie and his claims to having been everything from a Pony Express rider to a performer with Buffalo Bill.9 Or what it was like to go mushroom and berry picking years ago.10

Just reading the titles is enough to bring a smile to any genealogist’s face, and listening to the stories — watching the videos — reviewing the additional resources suggested on each page — well, it’s a treat.

But here’s the bottom line: we could and should all be doing exactly what the Connetquot Public Library is doing. With a video camera or even just the video from our tablets or cellphones, we too can record the history of our families, our neighbors, our neighborhoods, our towns.

By taking the time to listen, to add the pictures, to record the videos, to add the references, to tell the stories, we can preserve this history before it disappears.

We can make sure that when our youngsters are ready to take the journey down Memory Lane, there’s a Memory Lane there for them to walk.

Nice job, Connetquot Public Library.

Thanks for showing us the way down Memory Lane…


SOURCES

  1. See “Family History Roundtable: When Worlds Collide,” Connetquot Public Library (http://www.connetquotlibrary.org/ : accessed 8 May 2018).
  2. Memory Lane: Connetquot, New York, Connetquot Public Library (http://www.connetquotlibrary.org/ : accessed 8 May 2018).
  3. Ibid., “A Fire Fighter’s Memories.”
  4. Ibid., “Two Strong-Willed Women of Oakdale.”
  5. Ibid., “Bohemia Union Cemetery.”
  6. Ibid., “A Czech Immigrant’s Story.”
  7. Ibid., “Cerny’s Bakery.”
  8. Ibid., “Czechoslovak Society of America Hall.”
  9. Ibid., “Broncho Charlie.”
  10. Ibid., “Mushroom Picking.”
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