You might call it “the eloquence gap.” Or, in some cases, it may be more correctly labeled “the blabbermouth effect.”
In any case, it should be obvious that not all speakers are created equal. For example, pick a topic, any topic. Now imagine two speeches on that topic – one by President Obama, the other by his treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. Who do you suppose would give the more listenable oration?
The difference in the two performances would be more of style than substance. The more eloquent person will come off as more authoritative and believable regardless of the substantive realities.
This same perception applies to family history, too; what I call “the blabbermouth effect.”
In any family, the loud, repetitive storyteller is the one whose stories are most likely to carry the day. Think of how this plays out in your family. Do you have a relative who relishes the sharing of a good story? Does this relative have a story for every occasion? Have you heard these stories more than once in your lifetime? Do you pass these stories on yourself?
Now ask yourself, is this the only person in a position to know these stories? Are you familiar with alternative versions? Where did these other versions come from? Which version do you consider more credible?
Although it’s easiest to just go with the flow, and let family history from your most loquacious storyteller wash over you, there’s a better way of learning about your family’s past.
Seek out those who have been either been pushed from the limelight or who willingly hide in the fringes. Just because their voices don’t rise above the din doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say. By giving them the opportunity, you may uncover some family history gems that would have gone otherwise untapped.
Flickr photo courtesy of Paul J Everett.