Family Legacy Storytelling

Check out this post about family by Kate Farrell

Family legacy stories are the banner headlines of a family’s storytelling tradition. They are the stories everyone seems to know, or at least have some recollection of hearing them. These oft-told tales convey powerful messages from those who came before us. It’s a great benefit to realize that our families possess a literary legacy above and beyond mainstream culture: That we own a unique store of wisdom drawn from the ancestral experiences of our family. The impact of our legacy stories is with us, whether we fully recall the stories or not. If it’s better to know them, it’s even better to tell them—and tell them well.

Because we share the intimacy of family, knowing the lineage of our family’s storytelling truths gives us a deeper connection to our roots. Our unique stories, the very particular experiences of our ancestors, give us an understanding of life that no other information can. We connect to these tales because they are so very personal; we feel the events close to the bone.

No other family has exactly the same legacy stories, even if the truths are universal. These stories are empowering: they infuse us with a strength in hearing them. Family legacy stories can stabilize us in our rapidly changing modern era and give us the long view: a return to the far past, to face the present, and imagine the future.

A legacy story typically has a historical context and has been passed down through the generations with a significant meaning. They are intrinsic to family identity. Each legacy story has a memorable quality, because it is dramatic or because it speaks to a core belief.

If we want to make an impact on future generations, then we will be successful if we pay special attention to family legacy stories, and pass on their values and lessons through the art of storytelling, rather than by giving lectures or dire warnings.

Selecting a legacy story is a simple process, due to its prominence in the family’s tradition. Keep in mind the key features of a legacy story:

  • Past generations, an ancestral tale: two or three generations back
  • Origin of stories, varied or a combined: word of mouth, research, primary source materials, such as newspapers, archives, historical societies
  • Place in history: connection to the wider, social context, of historical note
  • Lessons conveyed, either explicit or implicit: a wisdom central to the family culture
  • Audience: a story the new generation needs to hear or understand

With these criteria in mind, I selected and retold my Grandfather Stadler’s legacy story that begins in the “old country,” as many do.

Check out the original post here.


Story Power by Kate Farrell

Story power

Secrets to Creating, Crafting, and Telling Memorable Stories

Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.