, , ,

Capturing History Before it Disappears

Imaging the following scenario below being kept in a a file, in a basement, in a library forever, never seeing the light of day. Possibly of use to many, but untouchable to almost everyone. Would you keep it in that format as you have it? Keep it buried in a basement or an archive? Or, would you just toss it in the trash, its SO old who would want it anyway? Or, would you responsibly share it? Keep it alive available for future generations?

I undertook a daunting project about 14 years ago, but since life got in the way and just plain got really, really busy, it’s been hiding in my file cabinets.

So, today, I pulled out this dated project and I now have it sitting here on my desk, at home. I have the only remaining hard copy of my grandmothers 20 years worth of research. It was all hand done; hand typed and compiled the old fashioned way, by pouring over a gazillion postal letters, personal interviews and the study of postal history and letter writing. In 1995, I studied Edith M. Fisher, her life and her work and what made her a commuincator before her time, in the 1950’s with out a degree. I also had the only hard paper copy of her book and paid to have it converted to rich text format back in 1995.

Way, Way back in 1995, the Internet capabilities were not what they are today. After all those years having passed, I now think I know my greater purpose a tad bit better and i better understand my unexplained excitement for Web 2.0.

I further acutely realized that I am now about the same age as my grandmother was when she commenced her little research project in the 1950s. That further translates, that, this primary research work of hers is now about 59 years old, and still largely unpublished.

But, wait the research she performed, the people she interviewed, the diaries, letters, and military documents she read and the unclassifiication of documents were all about some very specific American soldiers who served during

So that literally means her work, this history and many of those documents are now about 92 years old., give or take a year or two on either side.

Today, because of Social Media, because of Web 2.0 technologies, I have begun to understand the great responsibility I as one person may have to try to capture the summation of her work, her fresh window into a nearly forgotten world during WWI, in Siberia, which was derived from her expertise and her years of devotion to the avocation of Philately with her study of Postal Mail, mail covers and letter writing. Did I mention she was a journalist as well?

We think email is so passé now. But gads, real letter writing is something, which we rarely do anymore. But, because we used to write letters, she was able to capture and thread together nearly lost stories and the disappearing fragments of history, unknown to much of the rest of the world. She wrote purposefully, and comprehensively. She was not getting paid to do this, and it cost her a lot of money and time. Hmmm, what’s the value of a women in the 1950’s for doing that?

Dee, as her friends called her, studied and wrote about the American Expeditionary Forces, in Siberia, during WWI. And, because of Cancer she passed away before her life’s work could be fully realized or completed, and it is sill to this day unpublished. And today, all of her boxes and boxes and boxes of documents now sit preciously protected under lock and key in the archives at Stanford University.

I well remember as a child my fascination with the walls and walls of file cream colored cabinets she had in her home in Yonkers, NY.

As, we try to figure out how best to make use of Web 2.0 and apply it to Government, or how to develop new policies. I say, the future is now, and our past is now. We are largley a population comprised of both bygone era, straddling the old world and the new world. Our job? To capture it before it is forgotten, by documenting our corporate cultures and memories of how things were done, the processes and why they were done. Can we just expect the youngins to know how to do what we’ve been doing and acquired over the past 15, 20, 30 years?

And, on a personal level, I am boldly putting out there nearly lost and forgotten fragments of history, and documentation which were hand written, hand typed by soldiers nearly 92 years ago, and 50 years ago by someone I admired but only knew for 12 years of my life. It will sort itself out with the help and memories of others, or not.

But, their stories are not forgotten, and to me that is important. Because, for the love of humanity, my Nanna, would have wanted that, and was trying to do such with the technology she had available to her, nearly 50 years ago.

We can do better, and therefore I am lead this new effort as part of her legacy and her human contribution to a larger more connected/wired world and for the future generations, who I doubt will even know to go dig into the boxes, papers and books buried in a basement at Stanford and then try to make sense of the big picture from a torn, weather worn hand stamped letter or hand written diary page with a photo taped to it from Siberia.

I am sure her research will be further edited from the collective of other global sources of humanity around the world. But, that is the point, it is my goal to keep her work, and our histories alive, as well as those aging documents and how we did things bac then so they are not forgotten, as part of a collaborative whole.

Everyone has a part to play, a seat on the bus, so to speak.

I had an epiphany of sorts today. And, I realized that if I waited too much longer, technology would to continue change at warp speed, and in the sorting of itself out another decade would probably come and go. The next generation is now, the future is now….and it might become too late for me to take advantage of what I do have with the enabling opportunity to make use of what literally fell into my lap some 25 years ago.

Our new President talks about engaging our responsibility. Back then, I did not know what I could do or should do with the documents. But as a young person then, I felt I had been given something of great importance or of great responsibility.

Of, course trying to make a dollar or two off it would be insulting to my grandmother and all that she had done for the Vets and their families. She fulfilled her responsibility, researched it, got it down on paper and recorded it. Now, it is my turn to pass it on, that is my responsibility. And, of course I know there still exists short comings in the research she did, that will be others responsibility, in the years to come.

What, is our individual responsibility? Can we engage for the betterment of the economy, or people?
And, how will you endeavor to make effective use of Web 2.0 to benefit others, today?

I ask each and everyone person to really look at what is literally laying in your lap, and examine the value of our human context in relation to social media from the human element side, with regards to Web 2.0.

Because of Edith M. Fisher, many Veteran names/stories/lives will not be lost forever. Many personal stories will live on, and our historic fabric which was written in the “sands” of time, in Siberia, some 92 years ago, was just an eye blink in history but oh the history will play well into how and what we could/should be considering today.

Beause, sometimes we must look backward to look forward.

My thanks goes out to Edith M. Faulstich/Fisher, she can not hear me now as an adult, as she died when I was only 12 years old. I am proud of her, and the undertaking of such a weight with the responsibility of documenting the history and story of our A.E.F who served in Siberia their letters. Our postal history.

I am sure the story, the documentation can now be further expanded because of what she had responsibly done Sometimes, its not always about the money, nor how much money you can save or make.
It’s about how much life you can capture, in our living of life and how it can help benefit other people.

Of the 5,000 herein, it is my well intended hope one or two may have an interest in military history, in postal history, in the AEF, in WWI, in journalism or in Edith M. Faulstich, and add to the the collective effort which began 50 years ago, no correction 92 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Force

What will you do with Web 2.0? what can you envision? How will you take what is literally dropped in your lap and make it better, make it come alive, make it work responsibility for the benefit of others? Will you wait another year while waiting to decide what to do or see how it all shakes out?

Having strategic executive champions who embrace Web 2.0 will empower, and can enable a dynamic paradigm shift in behavior, in better communication, in getting the business of business of done more collaboratively, and provide better more complete and authoritative information for our many publics. It’s personal, it enables the human element to engage, to contibute and maybe there will be behavior shifts as a result of these wonderful enabling technologies and core applications which continue to evolve.

And yes, just maybe, Web 2.0 can help tear down walls,and barriers to build something absolutely fabulous and delicioussly possible where we all can hope for greater passion of the potential possibilities with regards to less silos, and greater Global Understanding in moving towards Global Peace, as a result of our past and from our present,simultaniously.

Alice M. Fisher
Read more about Edith M. Faulstich/Fisher
A Communicator Before Her Time

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply