How long ago does something have to be to not be "in living memory"?

This post in the holiday mini-rants thread claimed that we’re in the worst recession in living memory. How long ago does something have to be before you don’t consider it “in living memory”? I know people (Mr. Neville’s grandparents) who were alive during the Great Depression (though they were not in the US at the time). Does that mean the Great Depression is still “in living memory”?

  1. “Zero generation” living memory:
    The event occurred during the lifetime and memory of someone currently alive and able to recall the subject.

  2. “First generation” living memory:
    The event was related to someone who can recall with reasonable specificity the details of the original teller’s version, and who can identify the original teller, and his or own relationship to the teller.

You could also make a case for “nth generation” living memory, but I would only ascribe to one of the views above.

Note: I did NOT post this thread to pick on Cat Whisperer, or to say anything about the validity of the claim that this is the worst recession in living memory (I’m not particularly interested in debating that, either). The post just made me think about what we really mean when we say “in living memory”, that’s all.

The Great Depression is certainly in first-generation living memory, then. I remember asking my grandparents about it.

The Great Depression is still zero-gen. My step-father was born in a tent in the sugar-beet fields in Michigan, and he remembers growing up poor.

Personally, I don’t thnk the current recession is as bad as the recession in the '70’s. But then, I no longer live in Michigan.


My parents are both still around ( b. 1922 and 1924) they certainly remember the depression.

Just as a side note, my dad’s grandmother was born in 1847 and died in 1952. So she remembered the civil war. Her husband (d. 1917) and FIL both served in the Union army.

I have assumed that “living memory” means zero-gen, of the oldest person one knows.

That means that the Great Depression has just passed out of “living memory” for me (I had relations that remembered it, but they are all dead now).

That’s my thought also.

Did you make this up, or is this generally accepted? I’ve never seen this definition before.

To me, “in living memory” only means “someone currently alive remembers it”. First hand memory, no compromise.

I wouldn’t know, because I was too young to know what was going on for the recessions in the 70’s and 80’s. They’re not in my personal living memory.

Living memory means just that - living memory. If nobody alive remembers it, it’s dead memory, isn’t it?

World War I has nearly faded from living memory. The only people who remember it now were very young at the time.

I would definitely say the Great Depression is in living memory, since my grandmother was a teenager and twenty-something during that time. If we wanted to be relatively arbitrary about it, I guess we could say it’s passed from ‘zero-gen’ living memory when someone born on or after Dec 7, 1941 becomes the world’s oldest person.

Using neuroman’s definition, I had a chance of keeping a few of that same grandmother’s great-grandparents in ‘first-gen’ living memory; I was somewhat well acquainted with two sisters who were born in the 1880s and grew up in the same town as my grandmother, where they all had deep roots. Unfortunately I was too young to ask the right questions and so they’re lost.

My MOM grew up during the Great Depression.

My mother, born in 1913, just passes away a few years ago. She always said that she remembered the parade at the end of WWI, in 1918. She had many memories of the “Roaring 20s” and the Depression. There are still four relatives alive from her generation, so at least in my family “living memory” goes that far back.

So did KlondikeGeoff.

I’d say a hundred years should pass, as a rule.

Sure, there’s a couple of people 112 years old out there somewhere, but that doesn’t round as well as 100.

Yes, I made up the dichotomy. I do think that your definition (e.g. zeroth generation) is by far what is most often meant when people say ‘living memory’ though.