By Janene Zaccone,
KHS Marketing Communications Administrator
As someone with degrees in journalism and history and a career in communications, I have asked a lot of questions over the years. Whether writing a news or feature story – or doing historical research – the essential things we want to know are “Who? What? When? Where? and Why?”
One day last week, I accompanied two KHS librarians to a cable TV interview about our genealogical programming. During their chat, the interviewer told them that her mother, a nonagenarian, recorded for her family the major national and world events that have taken place in her lifetime and wrote a paragraph about each giving her perspective.
How fortunate for her family to have that insight into events they did not experience!
Later that day, I heard from one of our curators about a scrapbook someone had brought by that contained historic artifacts and documentation. Our curators were elated to see this resource, which just happened to provide context for some of our collections, and we talked about the value of scrapbooks and journals to historians (something the librarians also pointed out in their cable TV interview).
Why do I tell you these things?
Because “Who? What? When? and Where?” are necessary questions, but “Why?” may just be the most important of all. Its answer provides context, leads to true understanding and allows those of us looking back to learn something from the past that we might find applicable in our own world. (What I wouldn’t give to know the whys of some of my ancestors’ actions.)
If you journal, keep a diary or scrapbook, remember to answer that question for future family members or researchers. You’ll have their never-ending gratitude and will help provide them with a broader understanding of your world.