The first step in saving a family history is to start with those family members closest to you -- usually parents, grandparents and siblings. Some people take their work outside the family, as well.
Deanna Beineke of Fort Thomas, Kent., started her work with the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project by interviewing her father, World War II veteran Jack Burleson. Since then, Beineke has completed 55 interviews with veterans.
"These people are dying at a rate of 1,500 a day," Beineke said. "We have to save their stories."
John Dziak of Pittston, Pa., is spending his retirement years interviewing people in his area who were connected to the coal-mining industry. The president of the Greater Pittston Historical Society spends at least 40 hours each week pursuing his passion, without pay, "because they're fun.
"People say to me, 'What are you doing that for? When you're gone, it's going to be all over'," he told The Citizen's Voice. "No, it's not."
When Words Matter is in the Business Friends Spotlight this month on the Iowa Genealogical Society web site. For Iowans interested in tracking down their own family histories, the IGS is a vital resource.