There's No Such Thing as "The Gospel According to Grandma"

Tradition is not Gospel. It is not religion. We can’t accept it on faith alone.

Oral history goes astray for at least five reasons:

  1. Human memories are not perfect.
  2. Traditions are influenced by the 3 P’s: Pride, Prejudice, and Persecution.
  3. Oral history has always served as moral lessons to inspire and guide young people. Oral accounts inflated the qualities of those held up as role models.
  4. Storytelling was an art form in past societies. Storytellers prided themselves on their ability to hold an audience spellbound by weaving a good tale. Even at the family hearth, older generations could not inspire the young ones to greatness by boring them to death!
  5. Tradition often is not tradition in the first place. Many stories treated as tradition today actually originated in the late 1800s or early 1900s, when untrained ‘local historians’ or genealogists made wild conjectures based on little or no research.

Nope, there is no such thing as The Gospel According to Grandma.

That said, most traditions have a core of truth. How do we find it?  Stay tuned. We’ll tackle that tomorrow.

HOW TO CITE: Elizabeth Shown Mills, "There's No Such Thing as 'The Gospel According to Grandma'," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained ( : posted 29 June 2018).