Preserving Family Memories for Current and Future Generations. A Gift of Time and Love.

Jeff Baker, professional life documentarian
Jeff Baker

The pace of life in the 21st century is fast. We often learn things by picking up snippets of information from our mobile phones. However, fast is only sometimes the best. In-depth conversations between generations can be rare. Residents at Trillium Woods in Plymouth are breaking down this cycle by capturing, sharing, and passing down priceless family history.

“We find that our residents are very interested in meaningful ways to connect with younger family members about their mutual family history,” says Linda Stanton, Director of Marketing and Sales. “It is often difficult for people of different ages to establish a connection on topics with younger family members. But it is so important. Our residents who are successful in sharing life stories with their families swell with pride in passing on their history.”

Red and black cover of a resident family genealogy book.

Learning how to take this step is where Jeff Baker, a Twin Cities resident, comes in. As a professional life documentarian, Baker guides Trillium residents step by step in documenting life stories and memories. “I believe we are part of a larger story that contributes to who we are as individuals, and that story influences our family, our future generations. But if no one takes the time to record the narratives, they disappear.”

Documenting life stories does not just have an emotional appeal; it may also have a practical one. Baker says that when loved ones downsize or pass away, family members are overwhelmed with boxes of memorabilia. Trillium Woods Resident Jim Krautkremer said, “when I moved, it was an enormous job to figure out what to do with our lifetime of memories. What do you keep? What do you throw away? The seminar taught by Jeff Baker helped me think this through.”

Table of contents inside a residents book on family genealogy and memories.

The sorting process involves more than just figuring out what photos to keep, digitize or put into frames. Baker says, “I promote storytelling and ways to collect, prioritize, organize, and preserve one’s life stories, photographs, heirloom documents, family history, and genealogical data.” The images are matched with writing and genealogy to tell a family story that otherwise may be lost.

Several residents have embarked on their journeys to capture priceless memories. Baker also runs a monthly writing group at Trillium Woods. This work encourages people to document their genealogy and family personalities. Jim Ervin, Resident Association President and a client, is in the process of recording his history. “I have written my family history of two family lines, and my book is a real narrative and quite detailed. Jeff’s ability to help me through the research, creating, writing and editing methodology was invaluable.”

The most frequently asked question is, “why would you create a book? My kids won’t be interested.” That is, until Baker explains it is a collection of memories. “I often hear that no one will want to read it, but then the book of memories is revealed, and people tell me that they are so grateful that we were able to capture their family history. The process and the finished book help build family bonds through generations.” He adds, “this is more than just writing about your ancestors and your life story. It is a gift of your time and love.”

A resident's family genealogy printed in a book.