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Family Folklore

Do you have any stories that are “famous” in your family? Perhaps they are stories that have been passed down from generation to generation? Maybe you question the validity of some aspects of the story, but enjoy them anyway, despite not knowing if they are all true? Many families have these type of tall tales in their history books, and it might just be fun to put together a book of family folklore.

What is folklore? By definition via, it states that it can be:

1. traditional customs, tales, sayings, dances, or art forms preserved among a people

2. a branch of knowledge that deals with folklore

3. an often unsupported notion, story, or saying that is widely circulated

So, family folklore can include a myriad of topics, stories or traditions. Every family has them. So, why not create an album that encompasses where your family comes from and the folklore that has been carried down from generation to generation?

You can start by interviewing living family members. Maybe a grandparent, or great aunt or uncle will remember a story that they once heard from their grandparent. You can document their story just based on their memory. If some facts are not all there, it is OK, because you are creating a book of family folklore, and can let it be known that the book might have some tall tales. Perhaps you can write a disclaimer at the beginning letting the future readers know that some of the stories that are contained therein may have been embellished, but they are your family’s stories nonetheless.

When you can, collect pictures to go along with the family’s folklore. This will be a great way to help your album take shape. You can include the same story narrated by multiple individuals seeing how the story changes from person to person. This will be a fun way to sort out the “facts” and make a conclusion for yourself what really happened.

Perhaps you could include famous sayings of your own parents, grandparents, and so on. You could dedicate a page to all the sayings in your family that have become infamous by being passed down from one generation to another. I still smile every time I hear my Dad say, “cotton-pickin’ ” when he is upset about something. Being raised in the south, and knowing where the saying originates from, I laugh to hear it still being said in my generation. So, maybe not all sayings are ones that you will want to pass down.v

But, whatever you decide to put in your family folklore album can be unique to you and your family. After all, folklore doesn’t have to be exact, but it can be a fun way to document the less serious events in your family history.

Meredith Ethington is the author of this blog. To learn more about Meredith, and her history with Scrapbooking and Genealogy, go here.

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