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Grannie Annie Wants To Help You Learn More About Your Family History

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Esmé Shapiro for NPR
The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration encourages young people to discover, write and share stories about their family history.

For 15 years, the Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration has encouraged young people to discover, write and share stories about their family history. The St. Louis-based nonprofit’s latest volume is out now, featuring 23 stories from students in fourth through eighth grade.

Co-founder Connie McIntyre would like people of all ages to seek out their family history this holiday season, whether they do so in person or on a video call.

“This is actually an excellent time for young people to spend a little special time with their family and learn something interesting from their family’s history,” McIntyre said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air.

During the show, two St. Louis-area middle schoolers shared their stories, “Fred’s Decision” and “The Sugar Baroness of The Hill,” which are included in this year’s collection.

We also heard from Sean Rost, an oral historian for the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Missouri Humanities Council, who shared this piece of advice for those seeking to encourage storytelling among their family members:

“It’s important, [when you] get these stories, not only to know who they were, but also to get a larger sense of ... the community’s history. Knowing who went to the doctor where, what store they shopped at, where they could and couldn’t go, in some cases, is an important part of not only telling your family history, but also telling the larger history of your community.”

Rost added that it’s important to save oral histories in many different formats — written and digital — and to keep up with the times, since not all technology lasts forever.

“The best way is to not only find a way to record it, whether by something as simple as your iPhone, something like Zoom, a digital recorder, but make sure you duplicate it,” he said. “Make sure there are multiple copies so that if one device fails, or your computer crashes or your phone gets dropped and broken, that it can be preserved.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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