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What can you expect when you hire someone to help you with all or part of yours? Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone realizes how their life might interest others, especially in their own family — or field. I am often hired by someone to capture the life story of a loved one. Sometimes when stars in the family story were raised in the "never toot your own horn" tradition, I get others in the family or the company, or the field to tell part of their story.

Nothing is more boring than mere bragging: The process of the life review is invariably therapeutic, especially for the elderly, and getting that life story recorded however humble or fancy the package is a wonderful gift to the next generation, and to the generations after that. You can start with interviews: Get those memories on tape while the memories are still there to be captured.

Get an elder to identify and tell stories about the people in those old photos. You can decide later if you want those interviews organized, edited, and transformed into a more polished manuscript and printed as a book. Or start by writing, and if writing is a chore, work with a writing coach or a personal historian--they can give you assignments and help you if you get stuck, or you can sit at a computer and write together, with them helping you remember and interpret what went on in your life.

Start with a timeline, a chronology. List all the important and not-so-important-but-memorable things that happened in the life of the person you are writing about. Looking through old photographs and memorabilia also helps trigger memories. See useful links below, in fairly random order. Ordinary people, extraordinary lives As a professional writer, I have helped many ordinary people remember important life events, and find the shape of their life story, usually at the behest of someone else in the family.

The first gentleman whose life story I helped tell was an Ohio businessman in his late 80s, Warren Webster. Webster had lost both legs to diabetes, had lost his wife after 70 years of marriage, and was understandably depressed. He had retired from what he considered to be a modest career in manufacturing and was puzzled why anyone would want his life story, but telling it transformed him — brought the sparkle back to his eyes, made him feel as important as the family knew he was.

As I wrote a story based on his interviews, I read it aloud to him, as his vision was failing. Webster was a factory worker who rose to the executive suite. It became a wonderful memorial to his life. I am working now on a photohistory of a family that fled to California from Kansas in the dustbowl and Depression of the s. Most life stories are created mostly for the family — for the generations to come in a particular family — but could well become valuable to future historians, as I hope this one will be.

Equally important to history, I think, are the memoirs of Dr. I spent many hours interviewing Tom with a view to helping him write his memoirs, for private publication for his family and friends. At the request and with the help of his children, Tom finished his memoirs shortly before his hundredth birthday, not long before his death see excerpts below.

Members of the Association of Personal Historians which folded in May will help you tell your life or company story--in print, audio, or video, or all three. Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear. Plus an article by Levene: Blasts from the past: At 50 and facing terminal cancer, Pam Fairmont made a video for her year-old son Connor.

A blog entry criticizing a Steve Denning video about radical management for not telling stories also offers a Storytest to see if you can spot a story. Good site for insights into storytelling for businesses. See also 21 frequently asked questions about personal histories and personal historians and Is it still a great time to become a personal historian?

I was president of APH, Contains a sentence that is hard to top: Clark, Opinionator, NY Times, Narrating Social Work Through Autoethnography , ed. You are trying to bring your reader and yourself into the text. A marvelous variation on personal history. Storytelling and listening can be a partial remedy in an era of constant noise. Re touching lives through photos After the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Becci Manson and a global group of volunteer colleagues she recruited online helped clean and restore hundreds of damaged photos, mixed in the wreckage from the disaster.

This TED talk is about that experience and process. It endured when they both entered Congress. They met again in Congress, forming a bipartisan friendship that has endured into their 80s. Reardon, Chicago Tribune, This video from My Special Book, a lovably productive Argentinean firm, shows how someone feels when the family puts together a tribute book. Watch their delighted and happy expressions.

This is why personal historians love their work. See more such here. The stories they tell of service, sacrifice and trauma was hidden away in an abandoned storage unit — until someone bought its contents. The mostly handwritten letters, on tissue-thin paper, dated to World War II and were penned mostly by the members of a single family — the Eydes of Rockford, Ill. Three brothers were in the military: Real estate companies have also enlisted his services, hoping the narratives he uncovers will help give their brokers a slight edge in the market.

Butler, in Aging Today newsletter, Life review can result in resolution, reconciliation, atonement, integration and serenity. It can occur spontaneously, or it can be structured. I had 20 minutes to pack. Sarah Doyel, Vox, The elementary school thought experiment became my reality.

What could be important enough? Late on the night of Monday, December 4, as fires raged near us in Southern California, I found myself asking the same question The Department of Homeland Security recommends keeping an emergency supply kit on hand at all times, one that includes water and non-perishable food, first aid materials, flashlights, and copies of documents like Social Security cards or birth certificates.

That box was the first thing to go into the cars. One project, Untold Stories Reminiscence Site of Untold Stories at Momentum Arts , funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, helped capture the lives and experiences of black and minority ethnic communities in Cambridgeshire. Check out the box, Words to the Wise. My desire to do a personal biography would be to acknowledge my ancestry, honor my existence to my friends, colleagues, and those I love who are my family or I consider my family.

But most of all, I want to capture myself. I want to be able to look back on my life and preserve the memories in case my brain cells refuse to cooperate and to retrieve on demand in the future. A hidden army of female cryptographers, played a crucial role in ending World War II. The two men, who last saw each other in a concentration camp, fulfilled a dream Sunday in Tamarac as they met again, thanks to a memoir that one wrote. Each day Cowbird takes a photo and writes a short story to go with it.

You can look these up by category: Curated stories , Most loved , With audio, , Most viewed, etc. This is a place where stories pile on top of stories so that every object, every location, is imbued with the deepest stories. Mini-memoir as love letter. See story on All Things Considered: Within our intimate support group, we each have four basic survival archetypes: She writes about the basic four in Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential.

Fran Morley, APH blog, Archaeologist Howard Carter made headline news around the world in when he uncovered the legendary tomb of King Tutankhamun, who ruled for just ten years before his death at about nineteen years of age.

Listen or read transcript. She recalled her early life with the Shelton brothers, who ran East St. Granddaughter glad to know gangster past Orange County Register, To write a memoir, cultivate the habit of listening to yourself. Ian Shapira, Washington Post, has edited and annotated Shana Greatman Swers Facebook page to tell her story from pre-baby date nights to a medical odyssey that turned the ecstasy of childbirth into a struggle for life.

Times opinion page on reconnecting in cyberspace with high school friends whose memories of facts and events threaten to pollute our personal storyline. Sent a power bill, he appealed the charges. All I have to do is look at them and my own celebrations come wafting back. Strickland was adopted at 18 months and grew up in Cincinnati during s and 70s.

After much searching, she found her birth family in This story about a reunion is one of many stories about adoption that you will find in the magazine Adoption Voices. Record them as soon as you think of it, because you never know. After his death, she learns of wartime kills her father could not tell his family about, despite awards he received for heroism.

Wonderful way to gather random memories. But did I really need to keep plus 7 UP bottles and related memorabilia Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas. Now Taylor heads "Preserving the Past. What they have in common.

Russell Library for Political Research and Studies lets ordinary people come into the facility and interview each other in pairs, usually friends or family, about their personal history and experiences with larger historical and cultural events. What would you want your family and community to remember most about you? Louis, a hospice program called Lumina helps patients leave statements that go beyond a simple goodbye. Here, for example, is the story of Sammy Rangel, a perpetrator and victim of violence --"I went into prison as a street punk and came out as a brutal leader with a killer mentality.

Open my front door and the first thing you notice are books. They line the walls, hover overhead, and stack up on tables. Each is a chunk of autobiography, a clue to who I was while reading it Students interviewed local people for oral histories and to capture and preserve crafts and other aspects of Appalachian culture. Eliot Wigginton, who developed the Foxfire educational philosophy, gathered Foxfire articles into an anthology, The Foxfire Book: Emancipation freed nearly 4 million slaves.

And for the first time in U. Watch the video to learn more. After World War II, tens of thousands of Japanese women moved with their new husbands, American soldiers, and assimilated into American culture.

The Japanese War Brides. The social work and history departments at the University of South Florida designed a project to introduce the concept of "person-centered care": Working with a class of 22 undergraduates, 23 participants from a residential facility for seniors shared their life stories in various ways talking, creating a scrapbook, being videotaped for an oral history, etc.

A sixteen-year-old who has never sent a letter, wonders what it will be like to have no letters documenting his life -- as his digital records disappear. Scroll down and watch the video. Have a hankie nearby. History is filled with revivals, led by people who were reinvigorated for the future by a reckoning with the past.

Annie Payne, APH, Keep near your door for that natural disaster that forces you to leave home quickly. Annie tells how to organize. This video focuses more on her life story.

To date, thousands of high schools from all 50 states have participated and preserved more than 75, interviews, providing families with a priceless piece of personal history. Because so many people wanted to take the class again, registration became restricted to first-timers. People who had taken the class before formed their own memoir writing groups. Write the story of your life -- two pages at a time. Anita and Cheryl have stopped working together on the instructor training.

I now lead Guided Autobiography groups in Bethesda, Maryland. Here are stories about other GAB groups, as members call them: This really captures how a group can interact online.

Guided Autobiography Sandra thomas, Vancouver Courier, Wendy Bancroft helps people of all ages, but especially older adults, keep their memories alive through stories, which she guides them to write — two pages at a time.

Provides sensitizing questions which help participants write on life themes as opposed to life stages: Experiences with and about death. Your spiritual life and values. Your goals and aspirations. More themes for Guided Autobiography groups.

Now a retired archivist has uncovered their stories. Ruane, WaPo, The New York City-based unit was famous for its prowess in battle and the indignities it suffered at the hands of many white officers.

Discrimination was so bad that the regiment was shunted off to fight with the French army and equipped with French helmets and French rifles, historians say. At the time, many Americans, including military leaders, believed African Americans lacked the intelligence and courage to fight The th proved the skeptics wrong and went on to achieve a remarkable combat record.

Maybe it will be a model for someone you know! This is a placeholder, as the link no longer works. Is the story available elsewhere? Sue Hessel, Association of Personal Historians blog, People represented in history texts were famous or were political and military leaders. This is the story of their year fight for full rights. You can hire a ghostwriter or scrapbook artist to do the hard work for you. Dianna Marder, Philadelphia Inquirer, philly. Nothing can be started if one decides that the task is mammoth and it cannot be taken up, says author and researcher C.

Some people need more instruction about that--more rules. More than half were Jewish. It was the first program that permitted large numbers of Jewish adults to immigrate to Canada following the Second World War. Peder Zane, NY Times, Digital devices and online services and service providers can help you leave a record of your life for younger and future generations, once you sort through it all.

Listen, for example, to Two family histories show how some stories are deeper than they appear. Some episodes led to unexpected places. Listen to audio recordings. Goddard, who printed the signed copies of the Declaration of Independence, spelled her middle name or what she looked like. His ride and the way he spelled his name was well documented because he became a journalist after the war and regaled and regaled the story.

US Newspapers and the Holocaust What did American newspapers report about Nazi persecution during the s and s? It asks students, teachers, and history buffs throughout the United States what was possible for Americans to have known about the Holocaust as it was happening and how Americans responded.

Participants look in local newspapers for news and opinion about 32 different Holocaust-era events that took place in the United States and Europe, and submit articles they find to a national database, as well as information about newspapers that did not cover events. Australia has the largest per-capita survivor population outside of Israel, and those who were born during the Second World War are already in their seventies.

He Spent His Life in Theater. But Bana, her mother has told journalists, always understood that strangers were following her words. The emotional toll of a wife who blamed him was too much to carry along with the burden of repatriating thousands of Filipino citizens.

In those moments of fully immersed attention, we may absorb things, under the radar, that would normally pass us by or put us on high alert. Later, we may find ourselves thinking that some idea or concept is coming from our own brilliant, fertile minds, when, in reality, it was planted there by the story we just heard or read.

Why We Fall for It. Every Time by Maria Konnikova. Excellent insights into the power of storytelling.

Do you know what a Sunset Town is? Or how dangerous "driving while black" has always been? A company can position itself against giant competitors through storytelling.

Well, at least half of it. She clicked on a story about an old picture. She explains that it may take from a few weeks to a couple of years, and one client says that while he may at first be speaking to his parents, he is also talking about his life for his grandchildren and later heirs. This book alternates his memories of that horrible time well told and her story of retracing his steps not quite so interesting.

I was going to give birth, on my own, in the kitchen, in a matter of seconds. Costello the author of A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness writes about illness narrative as an interactive experience, and about three common plotlines: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition , an investigative memoir by a Catholic woman raised in Costa Rica and California, about the secrets a family of Sephardic Jews kept to stay alive during and after the Inquisition.

The line that should be most closely tended is the line of trust between writer and reader. A wonderful series of blog posts by Julianne Mangin, author of Secrets of the Asylum: A Memoir of Madness and Family Secrets not yet published. I transform the worthless into worthy, the bad into good, give permanence to the disposable through art. Each personal historian is different.

This Facebook campaign to identify people in a cache of lost family photos, became Lost and Found: Agency Do you see yourself as able to influence and respond to events in yr life or are you battered by external forces? Read the story to learn what they found. What portion of my experience will resonate with other people? Send this to your sister, as my brother did to me!

Later I would look at the photos I took and see the top of the truck just behind it. It had been halted — and the driver killed — just one short block away. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. One to America and a fortune making Maidenform bras. One to Israel, and sweat of the brow toil and settlement.

One to misery and mass graves in the Holocaust. And they worked in the fields alongside Japanese farmworkers, and Black farmworkers, and Mexican and Chicano farmworkers — the laboring classes. Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me. Once she discovered that her grandfather had been a brutal SS officer during World War II, she decided to devote her life to digging into the truth. Unlocking the secrets of her family showed Julie the worst, and then the best, of humankind.

When I upgraded my iPhone last year, I kept the old one and, just to be safe, saved the messages to a digital voice recorder. I had a trove of verbal memories. A Primer for Environmental Historians and Others. Citizens opposed opening of an I. Petersburg Times , in which Burroway describes what she learned about grief after her son Tim Eysselinck, a former Ranger and Army captain, committed suicide after finishing work in Iraq. Capturing your family history is a phone call away. Woolf comparing the theories of Erik Erikson and Robert Butler, both of whom conclude that "a positive resolution of the life review results in a reorganization of the personality.

First "fascinating and addictive" life stories prepare for a long read posted after David Brooks asked, on the NY Times Op Ed page If you are over Capturing the nation in conversation to build a unique picture of our lives today and preserve it for future generations.

Dialect experts say the city is really a hodgepodge of southern sounds, without the distinct features from places like New Orleans or Savannah. They believe their lives matter, they have a sense of purpose that drives them forward, and they think their lives are coherent and make sense.

It sounds like a lot, but that last point is something you can do right now. People tell me the simple act of storytelling gives meaning, or can at least clear the path to it Making a narrative out of the events in your life provides clarity. It offers a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day. And we all have the power to tell or to re-tell our life story in more positive ways. What a wonderful idea and event!

Note what he did with their emails. Marcia Passos Duffy SeniorJournal. Writing anonymously, a happily pregnant but exhaustingly nauseated and hour "morning sick" young woman writes about the secrecy and denial with which countless women cloak their first trimester.

Are we really trying to protect a woman from sharing that she had a miscarriage, signaling to her that this is something she should want to keep hidden? Or are we trying to protect our culture from admitting that not all pregnancies are beautiful and easy and make it to term, and that that loss can be absolutely devastating?

How you tell your tale reveals whether you see yourself as victim or victor, even when your story veers from the life you lived. This story is about four personal historians who help make that happen. Enjoy the videos, but for preservation, consider the book.

A Six-Word Memoir is the story of your life—some part of it or all of it—told in exactly six words. In Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser invited Smith readers to describe their life in just six words. See more on Wikipedia. See also YouTube exercise to prep you for writing your own six-word memoir. Students Rediscover the Fallen Michael M. If even a hint of a digital afterlife is possible, then of course the person I want to make immortal is my father I have the option of allowing the Dadbot to converse with my family out loud, via Alexa though unnervingly, his responses would come out in her voice But what the bot can reasonably be taught to do is mimic how my dad talks—and how my dad talks is perhaps the most charming and idiosyncratic thing about him.

Fascinating article about the nature and relationship of memory and storytelling, and the fallibility and malleability of human memory. Ann Banks, My Turn, Newsweek. It got folks through the Depression. It can work now, too. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: What Are the Twenty Questions? ESL teachers in a middle school in North Dakota give refugee students a chance to tell their stories of loss and violence, by giving them a place to feel safe and build trusting relationships.

For people with dementia, storytelling sparks rich and imaginative responses, even from those who have forgotten the names of their loved ones. For psychiatry patients being treated for severe depression, wondertales full of breathtaking suspense can help them regain their desire to discover what happens next — in the story, and in their own lives. In the palliative unit, I listen to life-stories, share tales of wisdom from around the world, and we laugh, too, despite the solemn setting.

Host Michael Krasny, Forum, hosts hour-long show with David Isay, featuring ten compelling true stories told by ordinary people — history from the bottom up, as collected in Listening Is an Act of Love. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Five years ago the Hospital of Chartres started hiring a family biographer for patients in their oncology department. Peer-to-peer storytelling may help African-Americans deal with high blood pressure, according to a new study. Her process engaged not just the students but their parents, too.

Every page is handwritten right on the spot. Then one day, it just does The caregiving is over, but instead of feeling relieved, I feel worse. In the paperback edition In the Darkroom , she included photos--as capturing a kind of truth, the "fluidity of identity" as one reader puts it, and in some cases the final images of relatives soon to die in the Holocaust.

Seems to be mostly famous families. See Introducing Talk To Me: Authentic Conversations Between Parents and Children. Susan Owens is part of a growing trend of entrepreneurs personal historians who capture the stories of older generations. Important mostly as a concept: Make a book of photos of the things of significance in your life -- add stories, including the history behind the things important in your life.

Home, Dismantled Olivia Judson 2. Scenes of Confusion 3. Stalin and Soap Olivia Judson 4. A Piece of DNA 6. The Art and Craft of Interviewing. From the website of Pat McNees. The story they tell of service, sacrifice and trauma was hidden away in an abandoned storage unit — until now.

Long-form story, supplemental materials and a podcast. It is positively remarkable that this entire body of intercontinental correspondence has been preserved, first for many decades by those getting the letters on both sides of the ocean, then again by those same recipients departing Europe for South America. Those letters were considered so important, they were among the few items that those fleeing brought along on their journeys.

Afterwards, the precious papers were kept by the descendants of the long-since deceased writers. Now I wonder more about my own roots. Amazing woman, fascinating life. The Brief LIfe of Pvt. In the past, my predecessor could buy 7 to 10 stellar items in a fiscal year.

As such, it ranks high among the brutal ways writers measure themselves in the literary pecking order. Groopman, Harvard Crimson, Disarming love letters between two men and a woman. Letters of Great Americans to Their Children ed. Her story -- told through interviews and letters from the time -- is a rare glimpse at a piece of the World War II experience.

Gather together a couple of people from separate generations and branches of the family tree and do some photo identification and preservation. Set aside an hour between or after the meal to pull out a photo album, scrapbook, slides, family film and video, or those love letters in shoeboxes tied-up with string.

You can download the VHP field kit and forms online. But for the president, they may also revive old pain. Louis Public Radio, A beautiful explanation of why to capture "now" for later. See samples of LifeChronicles videos here. Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, went to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance.

Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia had been lost over the years.

Dancing Auschwitz YouTube , an interesting, controversial video of Jane Korman, her grandfather, Auschwitz survivor Adolek Kohn, and other grandchildren revisiting a site from which he never expected to escape or survive.

Human Happiness Brian Fawcett on how he learned who his parents really were. The Life and Lessons of George M. I like their firm promo: The Document of a Lifetime David Adelman. Using computer technology to tell the stories of your life. Many excellent resources on this site.

A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps J. If you are making professional productions for sale and for profit, you may end up paying a lot for music and images. If you are doing a family production to share only with friends and family, you are probably working on a slimmer budget. Luckily a fair number of sources exist for free or lower-cost images and music, of particular use if you are trying to do a Ken-Burns-style combination of voiced narration, music, and images.

Do your homework first on rights. Click on Clearing rights and finding rightsholders on the Writers and Editors website. Finding background music for video biographies, podcasts, presentations, etc. Finding vintage music from a particular year or place.

It includes footage — not only from Britain, but from around the globe — of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. Particularly strong in coverage of the First and Second World Wars. Converting old LPs and tapes to digital: Critical Past searchable archive of historical footage: Finding background music and sound effects for video biographies, podcasts, presentations, blogs, etc.

Finding photographs and other images Remember: The images you find through Yahoo and Google have rarely been posted there by the copyright owners. Do your homework on copyright and other rights issues. Meanwhile, here are some good sources of photos with links to stories about sources of photos at end of list.

Some of them are reviewed here: See, for example, 15 collections of motion pictures including old Coke commercials and films of the San Francisco earthquake. See The British Library offers over a million free vintage images for download Neil Bennett, DigitalArtsOnline, UK, These centuries-old copyright-free images include everything from from book illustrations to photos on a wide range of subjects.

Ordinary Americans and Fashion, by Joan L. XCHNG; now owned by Getty Images free stock images, but with stricter requirements now, so check each image for rights. Creative librarians have put together some creative remixes, such as Navigating the Green Book a travel guide published between and that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, gas stations, etc.

See also New York City street views from the late s and the s. Click on the interactive map to find photos from a particular area in the United States.

Create an account to get unlimited downloads to everything on the site. It can therefore be a challenge to write a successful proposal. These are my top proposal-writing resource links. Medical Residency Personal Statements Need help with your residency application? Personal statements or personal letters are required for medical residency applications.

Want some letter samples for everyday life? Letters are used every day to deal with many different real-life situations. This page will give you access to sample letter templates that you can use to deal with typical situations in your own life. Appropriate writing style and correct English grammar are important for all types of writing.

To help you with this, I have posted some tips lists that deal with issues from; redundant words and phrases, to proper preposition usage. Are you interested in writing a book or eBook? Writing a book or ebook using the traditional book publishing model can be a poor paying and thankless task.

Does your paper need a bibliography? Most academic and professional research papers are required to have an annotated bibliography. Want some help with APA style format? APA documentation style is one of the main international standards for the writing of academic papers.

Do you need help with MLA style format? MLA documentation style is another major international standard for the writing of academic papers. Want to know how to write virtually any document? This page has direct links that answer many of those "how to" questions. Need help writing that term paper or research report? Essay writing is a difficult challenge that faces all students, both in high school, and then at the college and university level.

Do you need some help writing your book report? A book report needs to be a short but structured analysis of the book you read, in terms of plot and characters, ending with your overall impressions. Want access to the top book summary sites online? Well written book summaries can be a valuable research and writing resource that can save you time and money. This page contains a list of some of the best Book Summary Resource sites on the Net. Ever wonder how to write key business terms?

Business and management terminology can confuse, especially terms like mission statements, vision statements, objectives, goals, etc. Here are a dozen pages containing definitions and how-to-write tips for the top business terms. Condominium Management… Writing for management and admin of condos…. Do you need some online writing resources? All Perimeter College students are welcome to drop into one of the five Perimeter College Learning and Tutoring Centers for face-to-face, one-on-one help from experienced, professional tutors.

Brush up on your grammar, view a variety of writing samples and essays, practice your paraphrasing skills — at your own pace. Participants may bring up to five double-spaced pages of their creative works to share at the group sessions. Fellow members offer critiques for every stage of the writing process.

To broaden and enhance the writing experience, the group also hosts professional guest speakers, such as editors, instructors and published authors. Meetings are free and open to the public and generally held 11 a.

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