Capture your family history before it’s too late

Where do we come from? WHO do we come from? Our family history can give us our identity, shape how we view ourselves and our place in the world.

I am so grateful to my 13 year old self. Because in 1976, I asked my Grandpa to tell me about our family history and I recorded it on a tape recorder. In that recording, he tells the story of how his grand-father, my great-great grandfather, came to Malaya (now Malaysia) from China. He died the following year. It is the only family recording we have of Grandpa’s voice and it is the official account of the story of our family (on my mother’s side).

You can listen to the recording via the player below. (The recording was first published on my previous blog Fusion View)



My Grandpa carrying me

In addition to this recording I have recordings of my Grandma and also reams of notes of stories and conversations with other aged relations, collected over time.

Now I am 51+ – about the same age as my Grandpa was in the photo above. My fascination with my family heritage has led me to create Bound Feet Blues, the story performance. I am also writing a book telling the Stories Behind the Story of the show – which will include the story about the Bandit Boy that Grandpa refers to in the recording. Not only has my interest in my family history sparked my creativity, it has also given me a sense of who I am and my place in the world.

Audiences for Bound Feet Blues seem fascinated by the family stories portrayed in the show – and I think this is as much because it prompts them to reflect on their own family and their relationship with their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents as it is to do with any particular interest in the specifics of my family. Many people have said to me that they wish they knew more about their own family history.

If you are interested in your family history, start now. Talk to the older generation – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties. Record the conversations if you can and they agree. Otherwise, take notes and write them up afterwards. You may not want to create a theatre show or write a book like me but there is something fulfilling and meaningful to feel part of something larger than yourself through being part of the continuum of your family.


About Yang-May Ooi, writer/ performer

Yang-May Ooi, is a creative artist whose work explores the transformational power of personal narrative. She has been an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and acclaimed story performer. Her current project is a solo story performance Bound Feet Blues, scheduled for Nov/ Dec 2015.
Twitter: StoryGuru_UK     Website:
Photo: from my family album




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