Oral History


“On a quiet Monday morning we arrived at Nana’s house. Rachel came in in her humble, quietly joyful way. We settled in around Nana’s breakfast table with coffee and yogurts. Nana began to tell us about last week’s grocery list, my aunt’s new job, what the electrician said

about the bathroom light. Rachel gently placed the voice recorder on the table. Nana paused for a moment, “Are we recording?” “Yes, but only as much as you would like” .. silence, and then she slowly continued on ..last week’s groceries, next summer’s family vacation plans, my little brother’s internship in California, and then slowly, gently it began to unfold. How did you meet you husband? Is it true your father was a cowboy? What happened after the car accident? How did you manage four girls and your own Master’s Degree?

Somehow, with her gentle gestures, Rachel began to snap photographs. I felt more comfortable asking the questions I only half way knew the answers to. Nana was sharing, maybe for the first time, the stories we all had craved. Rachel gently suggested we move to the front room, she smiled as she asked Nana to “smile with her eyes, like a model on TV” & believe it or not she did. The morning meandered on. It didn’t seem like two hours, but the stories filled the time.

It was two weeks later when Nana called me, she told me they were the most beautiful photos she had seen of herself in years. She asked about the recordings. I told her we would have a collection for all of us to enjoy for years to come. She thanked me, said she didn’t know why we had waited so long. My aunts, my mothers, they can’t watch it without glassy eyes. I can’t thank Rachel enough for creating this timeless gift for my family. It is something beyond words.  It’s our history, our love, our story. “

Words by Molly Ryan who commissioned this story of her Nana. nana


Molly and I have collaborated on several projects over the past year, this might be the most important one. We want to spend our time soaking in stories of family and heritage. We want the stories to live on and be shared with future generations. This is the gift she choose to gift her family this past Christmas:

An Oral History: Ardyse Mund from rachel joy baransi on Vimeo.