Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pinteresting Family History

As social networking fads go, I am usually a late bloomer. I wait until the hype has died down, and until I know it is a product that is going to stick around long enough for me to add it to my list of e-habits. When the hype about Pinterest started reaching a fever pitch, from first glance, I was unamused. I'm not getting married, I just re-decorated my new house, and I jumped off the crafty barge years what would I use this for? I knew I was making a pre-judgement about it, and with the buzz, I decided to give it a shot. And sooooooo, I was hooked immediately. Here's why:

To my core, I am a hugely visual person. I have always loved photography and beautiful images - and collected them at an early age in the form of cuttings or souvenirs. Pinterest appealed to this nature since it is simply virtual scrapbooking. I collected images from around the internet into little albums of my subject choice - called "boards" in Pinterest. Once I started boards for the things I love, books, libraries, tea, gardening, history, etc., I found it to be a relaxing and visually stimulating game. And just FYI - this is supposed to be fun, not serious - so let's not over think this people! In short order, I was abandoning "Words With Friends" to see what neat outfits my friends had pinned, or what art work I could add to the mix. Sometimes, I even pinned photos from my blogs. Which is how an idea started to grow.

When I was a teenager, I made a real scrapbook. I can go back to that scrapbook today and view the images with a sense of nostalgia and happy or sad memories. Pinterest does the same thing. I can look at my boards and get a real sense of the things I love or enjoy. In essence, they are representations of me - in such colorful and vibrant expressions! As I looked at them and had some fun, I suddenly wished I had the same visual essence about my ancestors. After all, they loved scrapbooking too. Only a few still exist, but we have examples of the same thing in tangible form. If they could make the same visual choices, what would they pin? What would we learn about them?

Since I could not go back and ask them to pin things.....I started thinking about what images reminded me of them. Once I made a few boards in honor of a few grandparents that have passed, I soon discovered this had the potential to be a useful, teachable and shareable tool for family history. We are always searching for ways to draw in the interest of younger people, to share their heritage in engaging ways. This is a unique and fun way to do so. Let me show you a few boards, followed by what and why I pinned, plus what I learned through the pinning. I quickly discovered that the more I pinned, the more memories were coming to me, in flashes of color. Stories were being remembered, and I was happily remembering my loved ones in ways I had not done so in a long time.

Boards created: Grandpa Charles, Grandpa Roy, Grandma Freida, Great Grandma Nellie
Description for each: What I remember, and what reminds me of him/her.

Subject 1:
Grandpa Charles
What I pinned:
Cigars - I can remember him smoking these when I was little, but he stopped when I was about 10.
Benji - He and Grandma took us kids to see this Movie and then they bought a dog that looked just like Benji - and named him as such!
Military images - WWII, D-Day
France - He and the family were stationed there during the Korean War.
Delta Queen - He and Grandma took so many trips on this famous boat, I could not count them.
Trains - Both real and model. Grandpa worked for the Railroad for years - at Union Terminal (another pin) - plus he collected and showed model trains (sometimes all of us grandkids helped him with his model train shows).
Nickel - When it was his turn to baby sit, he would try to bribe us kids with a nickel to "be good"!

Subject 2:
Grandpa Roy
Cows - He was a dairy farmer in Kentucky.
Tobacco - Grew lots on the same farm.
Tractors and field images.
Old Westerns - Zane Grey Books or TV Westerns, or anything "out west" - he loved all of these!
Fireflies - He was always around when we were catching them, either on the front porch with a glass of iced tea (See Freida's pin board), or reminding us the next morning to "let those bugs go or they'll die in that jar!"
Virginia Beach - I remember him lifting me up in the air whenever a wave would hit us - I was only five, but I remember this vividly.
Amtrak - I remember the train ride from Cincinnati to Washington D.C. when I was 9 - He and I were seat buddies behind my Mom and Grandma Freida.
Border Collies - He always had these dogs on the farm - and I dearly loved each one!

Subject 3:
Grandma Freida
Iced Tea - She was making this ALL the time - and we LOVED it!
Corn on the cob - from picking it, to peeling it, to cooking it, to eating it....wonderful memories.
Books and the Bible - She was a big reader of the Bible and books in general.
Iron Skillets - For cornbread, of course.
Garter snake - She was talented at going after those things with a hoe! Got them every time!
Canning jars - She canned when I was young, and then moved to freezing when I was older, but either meant a lot of growing, picking and blanching.
Flowers, fruit - Had a large orchard, plus various flowers around the house.

Subject 4:
Great Grandma Nellie
Gone with the Wind Lamps, Moon & Star Glassware - She was a huge antique collector!
Kittens - Always hiding around her porch.
Cotton aprons - Always had one on when I visited.
Sugar cookies!
Hollyhocks and Hollyhock Dolls - She taught me how to make these.
Old school bus in the back, used for storage - but full of bumble bees in the summer!
Letters - She wrote letters all the time.
Family Tree - She was the gatherer of family history and photographs and let me play among them at a young age - letting me ask loads of questions. She was the one who inspired me to research the family and pass on our legacy.
After all of this, I realized that the more I looked at the images I pinned, the more they were drawing even more memories out of my psyche. I also drew some conclusions about the people I remembered. Grandma Freida was such a minimalist, and as I tried to go back through her house in memory, I was having a hard time picking out things she liked - because I do not have one memory of her buying something just because she liked it. She was always buying things for others and living life centered on what happened outside the house on the farm. This is in contrast to Grandpa Charles, who loved collecting things and taking enjoyment in frivolous novelties - two very different ways of life!

Oh! And don't forget, the beauty of Pinterest, is that the memories are not just yours. You can open up your boards to other family members to invite them to post their favorite images about the loved will soon learn that though we have some similar memories, many of us have very different ones, which adds a dimension to the life that was. This is a great way to get families talking about memories. As they post an image, remind them to try and give a caption that explains what this image conjures for them. This can be done anytime of the year, or just after a loved one dies as a celebration, or just before a family reunion! The possibilities are endless - but the fun and lessons learned are far reaching!

A last note about copyright. There is some current stink swirling around about copyright and Pinterest. I will post a link to an article about it - but some people are upset that it pulls in images for sharing with thousands of people without proper credit given. My take on this - as long as you are pinning an image from the direct url source, the image becomes a visual url - clicking on it should take me to the original source. I cannot steal the low-rez image and reproduce for profit, I am sharing visual links with friends - which happens in multiple ways all over the internet. Some places, like Flickr, are starting to block their image content from being pinned - which is ridiculous since they are freely sharing the images with the world already by posting to Flickr - with the understanding that I am only visually enjoying them, not stealing them nor re-using them in an abusive way - I hope the rest of the world does not take this drastic and silly stance. I have purposely visited some of my favorite blogs to pin images knowing people will track back to the blog and give my favorite authors some more, and well deserved traffic. I also pin a few desired products complete with pricing - this is the evolving nature of social media - as long as we use this correctly (and pin from the original source), people are getting credit. But then, hey Pinterest - why not pull in the citation info with an image to include as a caption? Just a thought!

Article from PCWorld:

Positively Splendid Article about proper Pinterest Etiquette:

At the moment, Pinterest is invite only, so if anyone needs an invite, just shoot me an e-mail. If you want to follow my boards as the memories evolve - I am Pastology on Pinterest.
Happy pinning!


Nancy said...

I'm fairly new to pinterest, have many boards with few pins. I've been thinking about how easily this can be incorporated with family history, too, but hadn't thought of your idea of pinning to remember people. I think it's a great idea.

Usually when I see an image pinned on pinterest I try to go back to the original source so I can pin it directly and lately I've been adding the link as part of the description. I hope others on the internet can see the positive value of having images from their websites in a place where others will want to visit their site.

Kathy Reed said...

I've tried to not get sucked into one more thing, but your post has me intrigued. The one seemed to be Cincinnati all the way with the images of the Delta Queen and Union Terminal. I'll have to give pinterest a second look.

Cheri Daniels said...

Nancy, great idea about including the link! I hope that kind of habit catches on to keep the copyright hounds at bay! I'm intrigued as to how this will evolve and how it might be used. I was not a big fan of Twitter until I noticed how much it was being used to share great stories or recent developments in the industry. This is just one idea, but I can't wait to see in what directions others take this!

Well, as fun as it is, I'm really just wanting to point out one use I see in family history, but I am totally on board about not wanting to get sucked in to another platform out there. Right now it's really fun and I use it more like a game on my iPhone. I rarely even pin new things from the internet because I'm rarely using it when I'm on the regular pc....but I noticed how a few comapnies are on there and if you follow their pins, you suddenly see product ads....not so fun...but it will be interesting to see where it goes!

Ken said...

That's a good idea for Pinterest. I'm on it, but being a guy, I'm really not interested in all of the cooking & design pics. However, I do like the humorous things I find on it. For instance, I like your Smile board. Now though, I just may start memory boards. Thanks for the idea!

Ken -


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