Matthew Smith - Spaces Between Your Fingers Project


Do you know what your grandfather looked like as a young man? Would you like to read – in his own words- about the smell of the apple orchard where he met your grandmother? What he felt when he first saw her, the color of her eyes, where they went on their first date? How about his long dangerous voyage from his homeland – how he felt when he stood on the deck of the ship and saw America for the first time? These are the details that slip through our fingers as history is passed from one generation to the next.

But not anymore.

In 2009 I created The Spaces Between Your Fingers Project in memory of my grandfather. We are a group of young writers and artists who help people with Alzheimer’s author and preserve their memories. Each memory is inscribed on an old fashioned postcard. The postcards are scanned and copied for the participant’s children and grandchildren, then permanently archived in a vault at the Free Library of Philadelphia, so they will never be lost.

This past summer we decided to open our memory archive up to everyone. I printed up 10,000

SBYF postcards and set out with a mission of meeting 10,000 strangers in 100 days…and inviting each of them to mail back a memory – just one snapshot of their experience.

Along the way, I also set up impromptu “Memory Stations” at bus and train stations and typed up the memories of ordinary Americans on a 1925 Royal typewriter.

Below are some digital postcards. Please also visit our website to learn about how you can create postcards for your own kids and grandkids, and join our Facebook group for special glimpses into our vault.

At SBYF workshops, volunteer biographers help author and illustrate memories that will be passed on to future generations.

Every SBYF postcard preserves one "zoomed in" snapshot in time.

Our founder, Matthew, with the oldest man on Earth (113), who shared a memory of his grandfather fighting in the Civil War

Since 2009, we have driven over 40,000 miles in our Memory Mobile and met 15,000+ strangers.

A pop-up memory station in Austin, Texas.

Are you a teacher? You can create memory postcards with your students!


Tags: Activists Grandchildren