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The Legacy Project Introduction and Goals

Introduction The Legacy Project
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A legacy is a gift from one generation to the next. The Legacy Project provides a structured way to collect, save, and store a family tree with history information and stories, photographs, audio and video recordings, articles, and documents of significant life events and achievements. This can be a practical way of capturing a family's history and make a family legacy of many of the memories and precious events which represent a person's and a family's life story.

The project also provides guidance on how to plan end-of-life care, personal and financial affairs, and help simplify necessary family duties and vital decisions.

The Goals of the Legacy Project
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The goals of the legacy project are to enable a family to come to a clearer understanding of the meaning of their life history, love and interrelationships, and to create a record that will hopefully exemplify the significance of the family's life story. Personal interviews via audio and video camera recordings (transferred to CDs or DVDs) create a permanent life record of memories that can have great significance for future generations.

Over the last twenty years, there has been a growing interest in recording family histories and family trees. Computer programs are now available which can help organize a family tree and history (e.g.,,,

Sometimes, a family history is documented because of family pride or interest in seeking information on where ancestors came from, their occupation, how they lived. Sometimes it is done to obtain genetic or medical information which can be of vital value for family descendants.

We started the Life Tape Project1,2,3 in the early 1970s initially making audiotapes and, later, video recordings, CDs and DVDs, of cancer patients and their families to record their memories and thoughts, family history and stories, philosophy of life, wishes, goals, legacy, and family medical information.

The Life Tape Project helped us appreciate the importance of family histories and stories. As the project progressed, we found that for some families the sharing of family history and philosophies became a turning point in their lives despite the fact that the interview was only 1½ hours. This gave patients the opportunity to reassess their personal philosophies and goals as they talked about their life, affording them the chance to identify and understand their legacy to their family and make life changes to clarify relationships.

1 Rosenbaum, EH, Rosenbaum, IR: Improved communication technique for consultative interviews. Abstract Proc. of AACR and ASCO, 18:316, March, 1977
2 Rosenbaum, EH, Rosenbaum IR: Achieving Open Communication with Cancer Patients Through Audio and Videotapes. Journal Psychosocial Oncology. Vol 4(4), 1986, 91-105
3 Rosenbaum EH, Garlan RW, Spiegel D, et al. The Life Tape Project: Increasing Family Social Support and Symbolic Immortality with a Brief Existential Intervention for Cancer Patients and their Families. Omega Vol. 53(4), 321-329, 2006

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