The 3 Stages of the Family History Journey

with 3 Comments

Everyone has a story and so do companies. So just in case you’re new to, let me tell you how we came to be and why that’s important to you.

Our story might sound familiar to you because it follows the 3 stages of most people’s family history journey, including my own…and maybe even yours.

So let me know in the comments if you recognize your family history journey in these stages…

Family History Stage 1: Birth To Young Adult—The ME Stage

Stage 1, the “ME” stage, is where we focus on ourselves and OUR interests and that’s perfectly normal and as it should be. 

When we’re old enough to get our very own camera (or these days our own phone) the photos we take are about US and our friends, and the activities that interest US.

This is true of what you WRITE as well, though most people from my generation didn’t write about their lives when they were young. Fortunately I was given a one-year diary when I was 10 years old and I faithfully wrote about my “very important life” for years.

Since I went to boarding school all but 3 years from first grade school through college, I also wrote a lot of letters home to my parents and my dear mother kept them for me.

One thing I knew in my heart, no one had to tell me, was that my photos, diaries, and letters were IMPORTANT so I was very careful to save them.

So that was Stage 1 where I was mostly focused on myself and the things I was interested in.

Family History Stage #2—Marriage and Children—The US Stage

When I met and married Charlie, the love of my life and, unknown to me at the time, my future business partner, I entered Family History Stage #2—the “US” stage where our main focus expands to include our spouse and children. Friends and grandparents and other relatives are still part of our life of course, but documenting them is mostly related to their interaction with us and our kids.

The Digital Age

Then in 2001 everything went digital. Charlie and I were still solidly in Family History Stage #2, the US stage, when we started an online company in 2003 called Digital where I taught people how to preserve their family stories digitally using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

So our business reflected where we were personally in our own family history journey—Stage 2, focused on documenting one’s own family.

Everything Changed…

But then something happened that changed everything. Charlie and I lost 3 parents before we were able to document their stories or the stories they knew about their parents and grandparents.

Family History Stage #3—Older Years—The THEM Stage

That catapulted us into Stage 3 of our family history journey which is the THEM stage where our focus expands beyond just ME and even beyond US, our spouse and kids, to include the larger family of ancestors in our family tree, especially our parents and grandparents, and we expand our focus to include THEM.

Stage 3 often happens when we lose a beloved family member and realize how much of their stories and family history are gone forever and we don’t get a second chance to document them.

OR we may suddenly find ourselves in Stage 3 when we inherit the boxes…and boxes…and boxes of photos and memorabilia from both sides of the family and suddenly feel overwhelmed. And that’s when we realize that we had a chance to deal with that earlier but we were in a different stage of life where we were focused mostly on our own family and we just weren’t aware of the hourglass that was running out for our parents and grandparents. And because of that experience it forced us to figure out how to deal with the boxes of family history and how to help others do it too.

Why We Founded

Because of our own journey we left our first business,, in the capable hands of Jen White and her team, and we started to help people in Stage 3 know how to deal with their boxes of photos, slides, and negatives without feeling confused and overwhelmed.

We believe old photos deserve to be freed from their cardboard prisons where they haven’t seen the light of day for years.

And family stories, including our own, should be documented so everyone in the family, both now and in the future, can enjoy them and get to know their heritage. We hope you feel the same. 

Our passion is to help the paper photo generation that grew up in the 20th century preserve their photos and the stories that give them meaning before it’s too late.

To find out how we can help you, go to .

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3 Responses

  1. Kelly Stahlman
    | Reply

    I’m so excited to begin this journey! You make it seem so simple when I’m overwhelmed with memories and STUFF! (All those boxes!)

    Do you have any special advise for me? Our medically fragile twins had extraordinary lives until ages 22 and 23. I get overwhelmed with grief in the middle of celebrating their lives, as well as those of my brother, father and father-in-law. I want to capture stories for my brother’s family, and from my mother (81) and MIL (92) while I still am able.

    Thanks so much!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Hi Kelly—I’m excited for you too! Telling the stories of your loved ones will be cathartic for you and will honor the ones you love. And because of your stories your descendants will be able to appreciate them and feel like they know them. I know there’s a lot to tell so start with one person or start with the twins. BUT, if a story comes to mind about someone else, jot down the title on a piece of paper or in your mobile device so you don’t forget it. That way you can come back to it later. I really recommend that you follow the class modules in the order they are. The Success Formula Module will help you stay focused and tell you what to do if you start getting overwhelmed. Module 2 will show you the fastest way to tell a complete section of family stories, so this is where you can totally make super fast headway in getting those stories documented. You’ll remember more stories later as you do the organizing module but, no worries I tell you how to insert them into the other stories. You will cry and love and laugh as you tell these stories. It will help with your grief and will ensure that these amazing family members of yours won’t be forgotten.

  2. Terri L Fullerton
    | Reply

    So well said. I also love your answer to Kelly.

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