All of us in our daily life come across people who have significant stories to tell. It may be a parent or grandparent or family acquaintance. Or it may be a neighbour, a friend or a member of a social group. Often these stories are at risk of being lost forever.

We came across many such stories when we were researching our book Flood Fire and Fever: The History of Elwood. Much of Elwood’s history resides in the memory of older members of the community. They provide great insight into the challenges of life in the past, contributions made to the community and even substantial changes made to the landscape of Elwood that we see today.

It was the fear of losing such precious stories that prompted the St Kilda Historical Society to record these personal histories in this small volume with the assistance of historian Julie Shiels. The City of Port Phillip generously assisted with funding for the project.

The personal histories were recorded on a digital voice recorder and then summarised into the concise accounts in this volume. The full recordings can be accessed at the St Kilda Historical Society, at the St Kilda Library.

This small publication is also intended to encourage others to record valuable stories, which may be lost to future generations. It includes sections with advice and resources to do so. Fortunately the practical means of preserving these stories have become easier than ever.

The simplest and one of the best methods of recording have worked well for thousands of years: pen and paper. Recorded stories in print or on tape can be filed in your local library with an ISBN number that enables everyone in Australia to find it if they wish.

Digital voice recorders are everywhere, every second teenager or adult has an MP3 recorder, which records voices as well as music. An iPOD becomes a high quality voice recorder when a microphone attachment is purchased. The great thing is that the recorded digital files can be kept on computers, emailed to friends or put on the internet for the world to hear.

Even digital cameras can record sound and moving images. And the cost of video cameras is falling…

There is no excuse for delay. Do you know of a valuable story in danger of being lost to all future generations? Act now!!

Meyer Eidelson
St Kilda Historical Society
August 2006