Pat McNees

Writer, editor, ghostwriter, personal historian

Introducing "Talk to Me": Authentic Conversations Between Parents and Children Jump in and talk live with a member of your family.


Tell your story now. "There’s plenty of time…until there isn’t."
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"It goes without saying, that if it goes without saying, it's gone." --Marcia Orland

"Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it." ~ Rafiki, from The Lion King.

• FAQs about personal history work (APH, The Life Story People)

Going Home Again (David Brooks, NY Times, 3-20-14). "Most of us have an urge, maybe more as we age, to circle back to the past and touch the places and things of childhood. When Sting did this, his creativity was reborn. Songs exploded from his head."

"If you want to keep a memory as is, you carve it into a story. It’s not only keeping the content, it’s keeping the feeling alive. The best part is, you’re not the only one remembering it."— from neuroscientist Daniela Schiller's talk on "Keeping Memories Safe" (about Holocaust memories) on a Studio 360 radio program (NPR) featuring stories of neuroscience and memory

“You never see the hard days in a photo album, but those are the ones that get you from one happy snapshot to the next.” ~Mr. Leezak, character in Just Married (2003)

I'm the Smart One, She's the Pretty One.What's with the compulsion to make sisters into Spice girls? (Jess, XOJane, on sisters Jess and Sam, who are BOTH smart and pretty)

If some copy here resembles Association of Personal Historians site copy, it's because I wrote copy for both, drawing on links here and on my two other websites: Writers and Editors and a site for the book Dying: A Book of Comfort.

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
~ William Butler Yeats

Personal History Productions. On the Aging Boomers Radio Show (Sonoma County), listen to personal historians Susan Milstein and Andi Reese Brady tell how they developed a business interviewing people about their lives and presenting them as audio CDs or beautiful bound books

Consumer advisory: Books and other products purchased after linking to Amazon.com from this site bring us a small commission, which helps cover the costs of sustaining the site.

Bias SoundSaver (easily convert and restore your old LPs and tapes to digital--on a Mac). Similar to Roxio Spin Doctor (If your computer can “hear” it, you can record it with CD Spin Doctor).

· My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History ed. by Paula Stallings Yost and Pat McNees, with a foreword by Rick Bragg, a great gift for that person whose life stories should be recorded or told but who keeps saying, "Who cares what happened in my life?" Read excerpts here and order here to order directly from APH. Backstories about the process of getting the stories into print will be of particular interest to those who want to help others tell their life stories. "At last, a collection that shows the 'why, what, and how' behind memoir as legacy." ~ Susan Wittig Albert, author of WRITING FROM LIFE, founder of Story Circle Network

Welcome to Pine Point, an interactive documentary, part scrapbook, part video, part book, part community memoir. Click on Welcome to Pine Point. Scroll toward bottom, click on Visit Website. (Or start here at Broadhead and click on Welcome to Pine Point.) Savor.


STING: "Well, I've never thought that I would write a book, frankly. I was honour-bound really to dig deep and bring memories, perhaps, that had been suppressed for a long time, that I would have preferred, perhaps, to remain in the sediment of my life. But having done that and having got through this process, I now feel so much better. I've really forgiven people in my life and forgiven myself. And I feel much lighter because of it. So the process has been wonderful. And I'm advising everyone I meet, all of my friends and everybody - people in the street, 'Write your own book.' Whether you publish it or not, it feels really good."
~ from Katie Couric's interview with the musician Sting, about his book Broken Music

The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Writing by Pat McNees (Journal of Geriatric Care Management, Spring 2009)

"Every time an old person dies, it's like a library burning down."
~ Alex Haley

"Stories only happen to people who can tell them."
~ a line from Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus (p. 19)


"The adventure you're ready for is the one you get."
~attributed to Joseph Campbell

Ultimately, memoir writing is about giving a piece of oneself to history. "This is the truest thing anyone can do," says Pat Lee, quoted in the story "Library helps memoirists tell their story" (Alex Parker, Chicago Tribune 10-16-09)

“I wanted it to sound natural,” he said. “Just like me a-settin’ and talking to someone — just like it was in person.” He added: “It was a lot of remembering, and sometimes it took a while to remember what happened and how, but it got done. Some of the memories maybe wasn’t like I’d like to have, but I wanted it to be just like it was.”
...His secret, Mr. Stanley says he feels certain now, is that he never changed. “I give myself credit for being in this business for so long,” he said. “I started out the way I was raised, in the old-time mountain style, and I’ve never wavered from it. I’ve always stuck to my roots. I think that means a whole lot to the audience — the people knows exactly what to expect.”

Old-Timer, Still Telling Mountain Tales Charles McGrath, NYTimes, about Ralph Stanley, old-time mountain music artist, and his new memoir, Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times, written with Eddie Dean


"Sing your song, dance your dance, tell your tale."
~ Frank McCourt, Teacher Man

My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History , ed. Paula Stallings Yost and Pat McNees, with a foreword by Rick Bragg ($19.95). Read excerpts here. Read a review here.

"At last, a collection that shows the "why, what, and how" behind memoir as legacy. Spanning more than a century, these intriguing reflections of personal as well as global social and political history are told in the unique voice and viewpoint of each storyteller."
~ Susan Wittig Albert, author, Writing from Life, founder, Story Circle Network

“This anthology sings with Walt Whitman’s spirit of democracy, a celebration of our diversity. Each selection is a song of self; some have perfect pitch, some the waver of authenticity. All demonstrate the power of the word to salvage from the onrush of life, nuggets worth saving.”
~ Tristine Rainer, author of Your Life as Story and Writing the New Autobiography

"Do I -- do we -- remember only those scenes that fit neatly into the central narrative in which we're most invested, the one that dovetails most cleanly and neatly with the sense of self that we've chosen or that's been imposed on us by the people around us?"
~ Frank Bruni, Memoirs and Memory (by the author of Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we came from."
~ Alex Haley

“Families are united more by mutual stories -- of love and pain and adventure -- than by biology. ‘Do you remember when . . .’ bonds people together far more than shared chromosomes . . . a family knows itself to be a family through its shared stories."
~ Daniel Taylor, in The Healing Power of Stories

"Be honest, dig deep, or don't bother."
~ Abigail Thomas

"If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it."
~ Carolyn MacKenzie

"Being married is like having a color television set. You never want to go back to black and white."
~ Danny, in a story from a Story Corps interview

"A friend took me to StoryCorps as a gift, as a surprise. I had never heard of StoryCorps. So I thought I was going into—I had no idea what I was going in to do. It was a gift. It was a gift. And I was happy to accept the gift.

"And I was surprised to hear myself. As everyone has said, something happens in that booth, where your very private thoughts that rumble around in your head and your memories suddenly come forth, and the voice that Dave just talked about, that’s your soul. Somehow it reaches down and touches that part of us that’s not often touched....

"I think when we don’t speak things out loud, when they stay inside of us, they take on a different meaning. And it’s not only the listener who hears our story. I think when we speak and hear our own words out loud and remember things behind the words and the feelings, it takes on a different meaning. So I became not only a speaker, but also the listener, of my own words. And it had a profound effect upon me."

~Mary Caplain, about her experience doing a 40-minute interview with StoryCorps (link below)

I can't stress enough how different it is to write about the real and the unreal. When I started writing my memoir my whole metabolism changed. I'd just turned 50 and I assumed it was just age, but I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning and I had the most delicious lie-ins of my life! It was just sheer emotional exhaustion, I now realise. Communing with your significant dead is what it amounts to, and that is an exhausting thing. Not unpleasant, but still hard work."

~ Martin Amis, on BBC's website about writing one's memoirs

"The real family legacy is the stories, not the sterling."
~ Andrea Gross

"Every American may be working on a screenplay, but we are also continually updating a treatment of our own life - and the way in which we visualize each scene not only shapes how we think about ourselves, but how we behave, new studies find. By better understanding how life stories are built, this work suggests, people may be able to alter their own narrative,in small ways and perhaps large ones..."

~ Benedict Carey, Science section, The New York Times

"This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage."
~ Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe

"There are no ordinary lives....by stepping into the great gift of memory, we liberate ourselves.”
~Ken Burns, about the PBS series,The War

"Memory revises itself endlessly. We remember a vivid person, a remark, a sight that was unexpected, an occasion on which we felt something profoundly. The rest falls away. We become more exalted in our memories than we actually were, or less so. The interior stories we tell about ourselves rarely agree with the truth. People do it all the time: they destroy papers; they leave instructions in their wills for letters to be burned."

"Bell wrote in 2001, to announce that he had finished the first part of his archive, he said that the obsolescence of software and technology was a threat to a computer archive. “A lot of things you may not be able to read a decade later,” he said. “Will the jpeg format still be in existence? Will Word 6 be readable? I wrote an article called ‘Dear Appy’ ”—for applications. “Basically, it was saying, ‘Dear Appy, How committed are you? Signed, Lost Data.’ Data can be lost in a disk, in a system, it can be lost in a standard somewhere. That’s still a massive problem. If you look at all the problems that we can think about in the decade, ten, fifty, a hundred years, that’s by far No. 1. The one that bugs me more than anything else is that.”
Alec Wilkinson, "Remember This?" in The New Yorker

One regret I have: I didn't get as much of the family history as I could have for the kids."
~ Robert De Niro


"When Ken Schrader told me Herman's story would not be the one people would expect, I was intrigued. What could there possibly be beyond the happy-go-lucky guy who so effortlessly charms everyone? Well, let me tell you that I expected the laughs. I didn't expect the tears. And by the time we finished he had made me realize that he is one of the most fascinating people to ever strap on a helmet. I mean, ever."

And the process has been something of a revelation for Wallace himself. "I started out on this project, viewing it as a way to leave something for my children. But as we went along I realized that it was actually a funny kind of therapy. I told Joyce things that I hadn't told another living soul except my wife Kim. Then seeing important events in my life and racing in print, I understood why it's so easy for me to bond with the fans—most people's lives are about dealing with disappointment, broken promises, and failed dreams, as well as great joy and satisfaction. I've lived the Great American Dream on the tracks, but I've lived the Great American Nightmare in the garages, too. I've just never known what to expect next—but it all happened whether I was ready or not."

~ From a story on coastal181.com about the autobiography of Kenny Wallace, a popular NASCAR driver and SPEED TV personality, written with Joyce Standridge

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Telling your story


Writing your memoirs, creating a family history, leaving lessons learned


Storycatching, life telling, life writing
(visually, orally, in print, audio, video)
capturing a life story and life lessons for future generations
Do it yourself or hire a personal historian (your memoir ghostwriter) to help!



GETTING STARTED
Saving lives, one story at a time*


Everyone has a story to tell but many of us need help telling it — or finding the time to record, collect, and edit the stories of other family members. Once we overcome shyness or modesty, however, we almost all enjoy reminiscing. As the years advance, a "life review" is particularly rewarding, but at any age it can be a great pleasure and an amazing source of insights. If you're one of the younger members of your family, take my word for it: You may not be eager to hear family stories now, but eventually you will.

Get those stories now — before memories fade, and while people are still alive. If nothing else, get those stories recorded — you can decide later whether you want to do something more formal and coherent. Having those voices on tape, having the stories behind those photographs preserved, is a far more meaningful legacy in the long term than most other physical legacies. And in the short term the material can enliven a special occasion, such as a major anniversary, birthday, or memorial service. Indeed, one way to improve the care an elderly patient receives in a hospital or nursing home is to write a brief history of their life and tape it to the door, making them a person with a story and not just another old patient.

An experienced interviewer with a good tape recorder can capture memories that your family will cherish for generations. (Most people find the prospect of writing about their life daunting — and fail to write in their real “voice.” Taping your stories can be a first step toward helping you “write” your own story.) If someone in your family has stories to tell, and can't tell them on their own, encourage them to work with an interviewer. If they don’t know where to begin, bring out a box of old family photos, and have them tell stories about the days those photos were taken. Start with a family photo history, with captions! Make a CD of it for everyone in the family. Do it NOW! Don't put it off to the distant future. So often I hear people express regret about the stories they didn't get and wish they had now. Keep it simple, but do it now!

As a professional journalist with great curiosity about the lives of others, I've helped research and write several personal, family, and organizational histories. What can you expect when you hire someone to help you with all or part of yours? In general, we conduct interviews, have the interviews transcribed, organize and edit the material, help you find your "voice" (if you're telling the story in your own voice), and generally help you capture the essence of your life story. 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. And it needn't be one person telling the story. 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: you want to know exactly WHY they were the greatest, and you also want to know about their foibles, which are often best (most amusingly) told by others. (It's just as interesting to hear that Grandpa, the successful businessman, habitually pocketed sugar packets from the restaurant as it is to hear that he spoke at banquets, and such details make his portrait more human.)

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. A life story needn't be an ambitious project and can proceed in stages. 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.
(* "Saving lives, one story at a time," is a slogan of the Association of Personal Historians, of which I am president (2010-2011).)

TIP: 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. Use timelines like those I've provided links to, to help trigger memories. 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. When I read aloud, “Webster decided that a life with dirty fingernails was not for him,” he said, “You can quit right there. That’s the whole story.” But there was much more: The story of his career reflected changes in American culture and in the transportation industry in the twentieth century, the chapter about his wife Mary's decades-long struggle with bipolar disorder offered a glimpse of American attitudes toward mental illness in midcentury, and his story was ultimately published as a book, An American Biography,for sale on Amazon.com. It became a wonderful memorial to his life.

Life stories needn’t be so ambitious. I am working now on a photohistory of a family that fled to California from Kansas in the dustbowl and Depression of the 1930s. 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. Thomas McNair Scott. I spent many hours interviewing Tom with a view to helping him write his memoirs, for private publication for his family and friends. A delightful man with great curiosity and (I learned from his former colleagues) a gift for diagnosis, Tom had become a pediatrician early in the twentieth century, when pediatrics was just becoming a field in America; it wasn't yet a field in England. Tom had a long, illustrious career teaching and practicing at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and elsewhere, and a long and happy marriage to Dwight McNair Scott, who did biomedical research. 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).

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Telling Your Story
A wealth of articles, stories, websites, and other resources

"There's always time...until there isn't."

• Dave Isay: Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear. Do listen to this TED Talk, from TED2015.
• After the Wars. Chicago Public Radio's weekly series of short radio stories and images of America's veterans--a Points of View Production by Paul and Ben Calhoun, ed. by Cate Cahan. Click on image to hear vet's story.
• Aha moment: (Mutual of Omaha's delightful short videos on "defining moments" in people's lives, where they gained real wisdom)
• Aha Moments: I want my story to be told (part of a delightful Mutual of Omaha series)
• All About Me: Memoir Week at Slate (sixteen pieces on memoirs and memoir writing)
• A Look Inside Florence's Strangest Archive (Cara Giaimo, Atlas Obscura, 5-11-16) For six centuries, the Corsini Family has recorded everything that's ever happened to them.
• Alzheimer's: Mementos help preserve memories (Mayo Clinic)
• The American Civil War, Then and Now (The Guardian, 6-22-15, interactive) The women who dug the graves, the kids who watched the largest battle in US history – and the slaves forced to help fighters at the front. 150 years after the last shots were fired, Guardian photographer David Levene travelled across the US photographing the sites scarred by the American civil war. Plus an article by Levene: Blasts from the past: photographing the American civil war in 2015 (same issue of the Guardian, different page) To mark the 150th anniversary of its end, Guardian photographer David Levene took a trip across America to re-create some of the most iconic photographs taken at the time.
• A Mother's Farewell (Joanne Fowler, People's Magazine, 12-4-06). At 50 and facing terminal cancer, Pam Fairmont made a video for her 10-year-old son Connor. Her message: 'I'll always be with you.'
• An Alaska Native group is passing down traditional stories via Xbox. So far, it's working. (Eric March, Upworthy) An Alaska Native group decided to make a video game. It's like nothing you've ever played before. It's called "Never Alone" (or "Kisima Ingitchuna"). And it wasn't developed by Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, or any of the other big game studios. It was the brainchild of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) — a nonprofit community support organization for Alaska Natives and their families."
• An Artifact Once Was Just Home Lower East Side Tenement Museum Welcomes a Former Resident (William Grimes, NY Times, 11-2-14) An example of video and print complementing teach other beautifully.
• Anecdote (Australia, "Putting stories to work") offers a free download of Ultimate Guide to Anecdote Circles (PDF, a practical guide to facilitating storytelling and story listening). 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.
• Animated StoryCorps shorts (series includes a conversation between a boy with Asperger's syndrome and his mom as well as two Brooklyn characters remembering how they fell in love and learning how to let go)
• Are You Telling the Right Story of Your Life? (Kate Arms-Roberts, The Creativity Post. 3-20-13)
• Arlington’s Martha Ann Miller, 101, publishes her autobiography, just as she said she would (Tom Jackman, Washington Post, 11-13-12). When a hundred-year-old woman tells you she's writing her autobiography, you nod politely and think, "Yeah, right." So here's Martha Ann Miller of Arlington, now 101, and here's her polished, published autobiography: 255 pages with great photos throughout, featuring the inside story of how Arlington became the first district in Virginia to desegregate its schools.
• Association of Personal Historians (APH, The Life Story People. "Saving lives — one story at a time"). (Disclosure: I was president of APH, 2010-2011)
• The Art of Listening (Henning Mankel, NYTimes Opinion 12-11-11, on what the West can learn from the African storytelling tradition. Contains a sentence that is hard to top: “That’s not a good way to die — before you’ve told the end of your story.”)
• The Art of Vernacular Voice (Amy D. Clark, Opinionator, NY Times, 2-17-14). "Every voice on paper has a linguistic and social history that needs to be heard."
• Autobiography class aims to help seniors forge connections through stories (Brittany Woolsey, Huntington Beach Independent, 6-29-15) "Part of the beauty of guided autobiography, and why I like it, is that not only do people write about a certain time in their lives, but then when people come together, they share their stories. That's when the magic happens."
• Autoethnography: Inquiry With a Heart (Jon Reidel, HealthCanal, 4-3-15). Narrating Social Work Through Autoethnography, ed. by longtime social work professor Stanley Witkin, features personal stories from 11 social workers, covering such topics as international adoption, divorce, death and cross-dressing. (An outstanding academic title for 2014, American Library Association) “Many of the authors told me it was the hardest thing they have ever written, but incredibly gratifying,” says Witkin.... “It’s just not how we’re trained as academics. You are writing in a narrative style without adhering to all the strict scientific conventions and third person writing that’s off-putting to people, particularly students. You are trying to bring your reader and yourself into the text.”

• Back to the Future. Photographer Irina Werning's wonderful pairings of old photos and later variations (adult reenactments). A marvelous variation on personal history.
• Be a Family Historian (Rick Shriver, Zanesville Times Recorder 12-11-11)
• Becci Manson: (Re)touching lives through photos After the March 2011 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.
• Becoming Three: The Myth of Instant Family (Abigail Rasminsky, The Toast, 6-27-14) A delightfully frank look at how totally a baby changes a relationship.

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• Before I Die an abandoned house is transformed into a giant chalkboard, so residents can write on the wall, remembering what's important to them -- a brilliant combination of street art, personal expression, and messaging, created by Candy Chang. Now a book -- see Maria Popova's story on Brain Picking, about the mortality paradox: "When I think about death, the mundane things that stress me out are reduced to their small and rightful place; the things that matter most to me become big and crisp again. … Thinking about death clarifies your life." Check out Chang's other projects.
• The best Christmas gift--a life story (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune, 12-10-11). The gifts he's treasured most have been the autobiographies his wife and kids wrote for him at his request.
***The Best Present Ever (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.)
• Between the Recipes, Scribbles Speak Volumes (Kate Murphy, NY Times, 1-28-13, on the marginalia in cookbooks--comments scribbled in the margins)
• Beyond the Valley of the Doilies, Joy Press on Jessica Helfland, the billion-dollar scrapbooking industry, and what scrapbooking is all about (Salon.com)
• The biography business by Louis Menand, a review of Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject by Meryle Secrest and Biography: A Brief History by Nigel Hamilton, and an interesting discussion, in the New Yorker (8-6-07)
• Books of Forgetting: Why we can't stop writing about what we can't remember (Cara Parks. New Republic, 5-11-14) . The problem of memory and memoir in an age when technology has both overcome and highlighted the limits of the human brain's capacity.
• A bridge to the past: Personal historian helps tell stories (Jacob Livingston, Spokesman Review, 2-7-10, on the advantages and experience of hiring a personal historian)
• Brooklyn Historical Society compiles residents' accounts from Superstorm Sandy for future generations (Lore Croghan, NY Daily News, 4-9-13)
• Brownstone Detectives: This Guy Wrote a Book About His Brownstone and Wants to Do the Same for You (Jackson Connor, Village Voice, 8-4-15) "While not every customer can afford a hardbound album of their building’s history (the books start at 25 pages and a whopping $2,900), Hartig also offers a “House History Report” for a base price of $650 and a chain-of-title search for $175. Real estate companies have also enlisted his services, hoping the narratives he uncovers will help give their brokers a slight edge in the market."
• The Business of Lives: Why People Are Turning to Professionals To Preserve their Life Stories (David Maloof, excerpts from Hampshire Life, Daily Hampshire Gazette 8-27-99)
• The Business of Memory: Families want to preserve their life stories (Ilana DeBare, San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 8-20-06)
• But Enough About Me What does the popularity of memoirs tell us about ourselves? Daniel Mendelsohn's review of Ben Yagoda's Memoir: A History (New Yorker,1-25-2010)
• Butler Reviews Life Review (Robert N. Butler, in Aging Today newsletter, 2000): "Life review, a normal developmental task of the later years, is characterized by the return of memories and past conflicts. Life review can result in resolution, reconciliation, atonement, integration and serenity. It can occur spontaneously, or it can be structured. Reminiscence, simply recalling events or periods of one's life, is only one aspect of a life review; although it can be therapeutic, it is usually not evaluative."
• Cantor has one more lesson to share with his bar and bat mitzvah students: a personal look at the Holocaust (John Barry, St. Petersburg Times, 11-25-09)
• Cambridge Age Exchange, a UK charity uses new and digital media and intergenerational projects focused on reminiscence to promote learning and understandjing. 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 . Another, Remembering Your East End, is a learning website for schools, focused on the living history of London's East End.
• Capturing seniors' stories while she still can by David Ball (Herald Tribune, 2-10-2010). Check out the box, Words to the Wise. "Obviously, none of us live forever," said Wade Matthews, 76, a retired diplomat, avid birder and head of the Sarasota chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "We'd all like to see a little bit of the things we think are worthwhile passed on, partly for the historical record and partly for the hope that some of these ideas might be adopted by other people."
• Christmas letters, 10 writing tips (ChristmasLettersTips.com)
• Circular Biography. This Book World review of Mary Gordon's Circling My Mother suggests approaching a life story from various unreconciled angles)
• Coming-of-age memoirs (a recommended-reading list)
• Cookbook culture: A personal history in grease stains and pencil marks (Ian Mosby, Globe and Mail, 7-3-13) Author discovers in old cookbooks a neglected trove of history--particularly this one, with annotations for a woman's life.
• Cousins who survived Holocaust reunite in Broward after almost 70 years (Elinor Brecher, Miami Herald 3-11-12). 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.
• Cowbird ("a witness to life" -- gathers and preserves exceptional stories of human life). 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.. For example, see and hear I Had Never Heard the Word ( by Merredith Branscombe)
• The craft of life story writing (links to excellent resources, Writers and Editors)
• Creating a legacy for someone nearing death improves communication (results of a research study)
• "Curiosity"—Another Name for History, and for Hope (Natalie Millman, Columbia University School of Social Work, 3-26-13)
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• Dad’s Love Letter to Mom on her 70th Birthday (on Julie Barton's website, 1-19-14). Mini-memoir as love letter.
• The Daily Digi, devoted to digital scrapbooking (for do-it-yourselfers), has how-to articles, such as Planning an Album or Photobook and Printing Photobooks and Albums for Scrapbookers, by Liz of Paislee Press and Audrey Neal of Audacious Designs
• Dancing in the Wonder For 102 Years: An Autobiography by Marilee Shapiro Asher with her cousin Linda Hansell. See story on All Things Considered: 102-Year-Old D.C. Artist Embraces A Century Of 'Dancing In The Wonder' (7-24-15)
• The danger of a single story( much-viewed video, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDGlobal, filmed July 2009) She tells how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
• Dawn Thurston's advice for writing your memoirs(when you're not a professional writer). Wayne Groner's review of Dawn and Morris Thurston's book, Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read
• Dear Kids (John Dickerson, Slate, 5-8-14). This Mother’s Day, write a letter to your children. "I know about her grit not because I witnessed it (I was too young) and not because I asked about it (I was too self-obsessed) but because I discovered it in the personal papers she left me after she died."
• Dear Photograph (take a picture of a picture from the past in the present--delightful!)
• The Digital Afterlife of Lost Family Photos (Teju Cole, On Photography, NY Times Magazine, 4-26-16)
• 'Dignity therapy' gives comfort to dying patients. Helping terminally ill patients pass on their final thoughts may help give them a better quality of life, reports Harvey Chochinov, head of a Canadian research study (Jonathan Shorman, USA Today 7-11-11, on study published in Lancet Oncology)
• Dignity Therapy. For the Dying, A Chance to Rewrite Life (Alix Spiegel, Morning Edition, NPR 9-12-11). Listen or read transcript.
• Documentary Story Quilter Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither
• Do History (a site that shows you how to piece together the past from fragments that have survived, with a case study of Martha Ballard)
• Don't let big-mouthed relatives bury your family history (Larry Lehmer's Pass It On blog)
• Doris Buffett publishes book on 'obscure' family history (Fredericksburg.com Business Browser). Doris's brother, Warren, is not so obscure.
• Do You Know Me? It's Still Me (Sue Hessel, APH blog, 3-13-13), on helping dementia patients find and save their stories--and on helping caregivers see them as individuals and not their disease
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• Early homesteading family’s daughter turns 100 (Stacy Moore, Hi-Desert Star 1-1-14)
• Easing Into Memoirs (Kathryn Gullo, Scholastic, Write It Teacher Center, on teaching memoir-writing to children--perhaps equally helpful to adults)
• 11 Ways Remarkable Storytellers Create New Worlds (Michael Simmons, Time, 6-10-15)
• Everyone has a memoir in them Elizabeth Floyd Mair, StarTribune, 8-12-11). "Marion Roach Smith recommends keeping details specific and seeing what happens if you write about big events obliquely, looking at them sidelong rather than straight on. She writes that in most cases she'd rather read an essay about dressing for a funeral than about sitting there listening to the eulogy."
• The Examined Life (Lynn Vincent, World, 5-30-14) Vincent writes about personal history and historians, formerly "an “encore career” populated mainly with professionals from related fields like social work or journalism," increasingly a first career, facilitated by "the convergence of high-end home video and self-publishing options, as well as web-enabled genealogical research" and an interest in the lives of ordinary people--often recorded for the families of the subjects, who, left to their own devices, often fail to collect the stories of their elders while they are alive and able to remember and articulate them.
• Everyone Has a Story to Tell:To write a memoir, cultivate the habit of listening to yourself. (Abigail Thomas, AARP, July 2008)
• A Facebook story: A mother's joy and a family's sorrow. 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.
• Face to Facebook with the Past. Erika Schickel (L.A. Times opinion page) on reconnecting in cyberspace with high school friends whose memories of facts and events threaten to pollute our personal storyline.
• Family History by WH 'Johnny' Johnson, about Published as "flash fiction" on Morgen Bailey's writing blog, but this is personal history, with a Geordie accent.
• Family memoir captures Alberta readers award (Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald, 6-7-14) Calgary author receives $10,000 Alberta Readers' Choice Award for a story about his mother (Almost a Great Escape: A Found Story by Tyler Trafford)
• Family Reunion (part 1) by Paige Adams Strickland. (Strickland was adopted at 18 months and grew up in Cincinnati during 1960s and 70s. After much searching, she found her birth family in 1987. This story about a reunion is one of many stories about adoption that you will find in the magazine Adoption Voices .
• Family Tree Chart. Leslie Wittman created this family tree chart with photographs using Microsoft Publisher. On her home page she shows the chart animated with narration running beneath.
• Fathers - invest in your past for your kids (Bob Brody, San Francisco Chronicle 6-18-11). Keep a journal about your kids' lives, suggests Brody, who is doing so. "In the process, you'll leave your children (or grandchildren) a keepsake even more precious than your wedding ring, an heirloom as valuable in its own right as your house, a tangible, heartfelt legacy for the next generation vastly better than any insurance policy." Brody blogs at Letters to My Kids.
• Father’s legacy of service, kindness (Betty Enright, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6-23-14). After his death, she learns of wartime kills her father could not tell his family about, despite awards he received for heroism.
• The Father You Choose: Denial or deification? Remembering a roguish desert rat (Adair Lara, San Francisco Chronicle 6-13-04)
• 15 Of The Rarest (And Most Mind Blowing) Photographs In History
• Fifty Things About My Mother (Laura Lynn Brown, Slate, 5-9-14) A Mother's Day essay about a mother after she's gone. Wonderful way to gather random memories.
• A final toast for the Doolittle Raiders (Bob Greene, CNN, 4-14-13)
• Filter Fish (Oliver Sacks, New Yorker, 9-14-15, written as he was dying) "Gefilte fish will usher me out of this life, as it ushered me into it, eighty-two years ago."
• Finding Our Way: From Courtrooms to Living Rooms (Deborah Perham, APH, The Life Story People blog, 1-31-14) The personal history business has become a field court reporters easily relate to and transition into. What they have in common.
• First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art (Philadelphia, annual event)
• First Person Project brings a new take on history (Stephen May, The Red&Black, 4-18-13). This project (in University of Georgia’s Richard B. 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.
• 5,000 residents of 'dying city' Grand Rapids lip-dub song about the Day the Music Died (a/​k/​a The Grand Rapids Lip Dub -- a lively and moving 8.5-minute video that captures both the city and its community spirit --posted by Caryn Ganz 5-31-11 on YahooMusic)
• Florence Wolfson Howitt, Famed for Rediscovered Diary, Dies at 96 (Dennis Hevesi, NY Times 3-7-12, obituary about diarist featured in Lily Koppel's The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal)
• Frank McCourt and the American Memoir (Jennifer Schuessler, NYTimes, 7-25-09)
• For Better or for Worse comic strip about a personal photo history's value after memory loss (Lynn Johnston, strip ID 7564, date 2008-08-03, and strip ID 7470, 2006-10-15)
• For Dying People, A Chance To Shape Their Legacy (Julie Bierach, Weekend Edition, NPR, 4-9-11). Imagine that you've just been told you have only a short time to live. What would you want your family and community to remember most about you? In St. Louis, a hospice program called Lumina helps patients leave statements that go beyond a simple goodbye.
• Foresights and Hindsights (Harry Zubkoff's blog of his own personal history, with entries such as McCarthy-era case in our Greenbelt (Maryland) hometown and Jews playing poker, a tribute.

• The Freedmen's Bureau Project. Emancipation freed nearly 4 million slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help transition them from slavery to citizenship, providing food, housing, education, and medical care. And for the first time in U.S. history, the names of those individuals were systematically recorded and preserved for future generations. Watch the video to learn more. Read also 1.5 Million Slavery Era Documents Will Be Digitized, Helping African Americans to Learn About Their Lost Ancestors (Open Culture, 6-24-15) The Freedmen’s Bureau Project is a new initiative spearheaded by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

• Frequently asked questions about personal history work (APH, The Life Story People)
• Frida Kahlo's Love Letters Give Glimpse Into The Guarded Artist's Private Life (Katherine Brooks, HuffPost, 4-2-15) A cache of love letters written by Frida Kahlo to Catalan artist Jose Bartoli, while she was married to Diego Rivera, including images of some letters (in Spanish) and photos. Amazing woman, fascinating life.

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• From School Files of an Earlier Era (Susan Dominus on journalist/​collector Paul Lukas's rescue of a filing cabinet about to be thrown out, containing girls' school records from the 1910s to the 1930s, and what he did with them, NY Times 9-13-10)."What historical record detects is scattershot; we can hardly guess ourselves what elements of our lives will be of interest down the road, whether what seems significant now will go unobserved, be deemed irrelevant, or be too subtle for documents to detect."
• The Forgiveness Project a UK-based charity that uses real stories of victims and perpetrators of crime and violence to help people explore ideas around forgiveness and to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge. See The Forgiveness Toolbox (going beyond understanding, building bridges, empathy, curiosity & courage, accepting responsibility, resisting conformity, beyond resentment) “The core issue when dealing with violent extremism is recognizing that we all dehumanize each other.” Read real stories of victims and perpetrators. (search by country and by topic). Topics include bereavement, knife crime, restorative justice, conflict and war, political violence, sexual abuse, perpetrator, victim/​survivor). 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.”
• Foxfire, a magazine and a project begun as part of "experiential education" by students at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, a private secondary education school in Georgia. 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: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living, which became a bestseller. Eleven more followed.
• Future Elder Caregivers Should Learn Life Histories. 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 Future Without Personal History (Michael Moore-Jones, Read-Write, 1-19-11). 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.
• Games we used to play This list, with descriptions, brought back old memories to me and may to you as well.
• Genealogical and historical resources (links to main useful sites in several categories)
• Genealogy and history (a fascinating miscellaneous collection of useful links)
• Genealogy and family trees: The Big Picture (a good place to start)
• German grandchildren of Nazis delve into past (Kirsten Grieshaber,Associated Press 5-14-11).
• Getting Personal: An estate plan should include stocks, bonds — and a life story (Ed McCarthy, Wealth Manager magazine, 5-1-07)
• The gift of an ordinary day (Katrina Kenison). Scroll down and watch the video. Have a hankie nearby.
• Give someone (yourself, maybe?) the gift of a personal historian, to help with your life story (Association of Personal Historians)
• Going Home Again (David Brooks, NY Times, 3-20-14). On Sting's TED talk: "Sting’s talk was a reminder to go forward with a backward glance, to go one layer down into self and then after self-confrontation, to leap forward out of self. History is filled with revivals, led by people who were reinvigorated for the future by a reckoning with the past."
• GRAB & GO KIT: Is yours ready? (Annie Payne, APH, 7-12-13) Keep near your door for that natural disaster that forces you to leave home quickly. In your grab & go kit keep the the relevant papers of your life that, if lost, would be hard to replace; insurance papers, legal documents, and financial records, yes; but also family history mementos and items of special family significance. Annie tells how to organize.
• Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (Dan Hurley, Discover, 6-11-13). Fascinating. Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.
• Grandma Taught Our Son a Lot (Diane J. Strickland, Globe & Mail, on the value of cross-generational life story telling)
• Great interview questions (scripts for interviewing members of your family)
• Greenwich Library holds new memoir-writing courses (Ken Borsuk, Greenwich Time, 1-27-16). 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. Former New York Times editor Joan Motyka led the beginner groups.
• Griots and Griottes: Keepers of History (Joanna Lott, Penn State Research May 2002). In many parts of West Africa, the job of preserving people's stories is carried out by the griots, masters of words and music.
• Growing Up and Old in the Same Little Neighborhood (Manny Fernandez, NYTimes, 1-11-11) tells one of 8 million stories in the Naked City, this one of John Maloney, who stayed put in his neighborhood of Windsor Terrace, in Brooklyn.
• Grub Street Memoir Project (Boston)
• Guided Autobiography workshops, developed by James Birrens, now taught in person and online. Write the story of your life -- two pages at a time. I took Cheryl and Anita's trainer instruction course online and was surprised to find myself bonding with the other participants. Anita and Cheryl have stopped working together on the instructors training. I now lead Guided Autobiography groups in Bethesda, Maryland.
---Autobiography class aims to help seniors forge connections through stories (Brittany Woolsey, Huntington Beach Independent, 6-29-15) "Part of the beauty of guided autobiography, and why I like it, is that not only do people write about a certain time in their lives, but then when people come together, they share their stories. That's when the magic happens."
---Memoirs: Sharing a Life Story (Susan Christian Goulding, Orange County Register, 3-22-16) Samples from one GAB group.
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• Her Happiness Jar (Elizabeth Gilbert) In a big old glass apothecary jar she found in an antique store, Elizabeth Gilbert, every day, aat the end of the day, writes down the happiest moment of her day and puts it in the jar. Some people need more instruction about that--more rules.
• Harry Lamin's letters from World War I, a blog on which letters from an English soldier are posted by his grandson exactly 90 years after they were written; now the son has died and the grandson has taken over, but there are also links to new blogs that this one inspired. Maybe it will be a model for someone you know!
• Have You Heard? Gossip Turns Out to Serve a Purpose Benedict Carey, Science, NY Times, 8-16-05)
• The health benefits of storytelling for the elderly (Jane Oppermann, Chicago Daily Herald). This is a placeholder, as the link no longer works. Calling Jane Oppermann: Is the story available elsewhere?
• Hear, Hear. What Do You Hear in the Places Around You? (Sue Hessel, Association of Personal Historians blog, 1-11-15). A project in which students and community members in LaCrosse found and/​or audio-recorded interviews about specific places downtown. Ariel Beaujot: “Most people grew up with history that emphasized dates of when a building was constructed or a war was conducted. People represented in history texts were famous or were political and military leaders. With this partnership between UW-L and Downtown Main Street Inc., we take history to the street level, collecting stories of people who worked, lived and shopped in downtown La Crosse.”
• The heart and craft of lifestory writing (Sharon Lippincott's blog--and check her blogroll for more of the same)
• Heirloom that survived the Nazis (Charlotte Sutton, St. Petersburg Times, conveys a family's story of survival in a story about a piece of furniture)
• Her blueprint for change by Subash Jeyan (The Hindu 8-6-11). Nothing can be started if one decides that the task is mammoth and it cannot be taken up, says author and researcher C.S. Lakshmi who founded SPARROW to archive women's lives, their history and struggles. (Sparrow is a sound and picture archive for research on women --archiving print, oral history, and pictorial material)
• Helpers can jog your memoirs . Can't find the words, or the time, to record your life story? You can hire a ghostwriter or scrapbook artist to do the hard work for you. (Dianna Marder, Philadelphia Inquirer, philly.com 11-12-04, on your life, by personal historians)
• Homecoming II (Henrietta Rose-Innes on the quiet secrets of her Cape Town home, Granta)
• Hey, at Least You Can Be Virtually Immortal (J. Peder Zane, NY Times, 3-12-13). 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.
• Home Movie Day (an annual celebration of amateur films and filmmaking)
• How I failed my father (Bob Brody, Newsday, 6-21-15)
• How memoirs took over the literary world (Laura Miller, Salon.com, reviewing Ben Yagoda's Memoir: A History)
• How One Former Marine Used Ballet To Spread Veterans' Stories Around The World (Priscilla Frank, Huff Post, 3-3-15)
• How Stories Deceive by Maria Konnikova (New Yorker, 12-29-15) makes it clear how we can be conned by a good storyteller. "When we’re immersed in a story, we let down our guard. We focus in a way we wouldn’t if someone were just trying to catch us with a random phrase or picture or interaction....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." From the book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time by Maria Konnikova. Excellent insights into the power of storytelling.
• How to Become Your Company's Storyteller (Jennifer Wang, Entrepreneur, 1-10-12). A company can position itself against giant competitors through storytelling. "A lot of business owners fall in love with their own product and forget that other people need to be romanced by a story," Bisceglia says. "A brand should make you feel something when you say the name. Without context, it's just stuff."
• How to Collect Your Own Family Folklore (guide from Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs), including Sample Interview Questions
• How to Do Your Own Life Review (video of Jane Fonda, 2 minutes, on Oprah show)
• Here’s how to make a special photo book for a milestone event this year (Monica Lee, Clicago Storywerks, 1-9-15)
• How to Pass Along Values and Life Lessons to Heirs (Robert Powell, Wall Street Journal, 12-7-12)
• How to Preserve Your Family Legacy (WSJ video, 8-14-15) The WSJ interviews Iris Wagner on the process of creating a personal documentary. 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.
• How to Write a Memoir: Be yourself, speak freely, and think small (William Zinsser, American Scholar, Spring 2006)
• How to Write Memoirs (BBC website)
• * How to Write Your Memoir (Joe Kita, Reader's Digest -- slow-loading, but worth it)
• Huge 'Legacy Gaps' In Baby Boomers' and Parents' Views of Inheritance (Allianz study)

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• I delivered my own baby (Rachel Fielding, as told to Emily Cunningham, The Guardian, 7-6-12). "For the first time it dawned on me: I was going to give birth, on my own, in the kitchen, in a matter of seconds."
• The Implications of plot lines in narrative and memoir. Victoria Costello's essay on storytelling approaches to illness narratives (Nieman StoryBoard 7-11-11). 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: the restitution narrative, the chaos narrative, and the quest narrative.
• In Andalusia, On the Trail of Inherited Memories. Doreen Carvajal (NY Times essay, 8-17-12), an essay by the author of The Forgetting River: 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.
• In memoirs, varieties of truth (William Loizeaux, Christian Science Monitor, 2-8-06, writing "If the critical elements of a first-person narrative arise from conjecture, informed imagination, or imagination that contradicts known fact, then you better call it fiction....The line that should be most closely tended is the line of trust between writer and reader."
• A Trove of Diaries Meant to Be Read by Others (Elisabetta Povoledo, NY Times, 8-19-14) Subtitle: In Italy, the City of Diaries Honors Personal Memories "In a small Tuscan town, a repository of lives has been gathered since 1984 by the National Diary Archive Foundation. More than 7000 have now been collected. Each year a prize is offered with the promise of publication, to persuade diarists to entrust their writing to the archive." (A prize of 1,000 euros, or $1,332.)
• Inheriting my father’s tradition (Ed Nakfoor, Hometownlife, 3-18-16) "I regret not knowing more about Howard, like I regret not chronicling more of my dad’s life. There’s always next week. Until there isn’t."
• Interview with personal historian Stephanie Kadel Taras (audiofile) on Ann Arbor program "Everything Elderly," about what a personal historian does,and why, and what you might get if you hire her. (Each personal historian is different.) Here's the program description.
• Introducing "Talk to Me": Authentic Conversations Between Parents and Children
• Ira Glass on Storytelling (Wimp.com video)
• I Remember It Well, lyrics to the song from "Gigi" (Alan Jay Lerner /​ Frederick Loewe) as sung by Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold--capturing the different ways a couple may remember things.
• Is This Your Mother? This Facebook campaign to identify people in a cache of lost family photos, became Lost and Found: The Search for Harry and Edna (an exhibit and an online story--read the chapters tagged at top of website)
• It’s Healthy to Put a Good Spin on Your Life (Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, 4-6-15) How we construct personal narratives has a major impact on our mental well-being. One study looked at four themes in people's narratives: Agency (Do you see yourself as able to influence and respond to events in yr life or are you battered by external forces?); Communion (are you connected to others, or disconnected?); Redemptions (do you take a negative experience and find a positive outcome?); and Contamination (do you tell stories of good things turning bad?). Read the story to learn what they found.
• It's Not Just About You (Adam Hochschild, First Person Singular, Nieman Storyboard Digest, on making memoirs reader-oriented, not ego-oriented)

• A Jewish Family’s Twentieth Century Story (listen to On Point interview with Tom Laskin, about his book The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century One family, three paths out of Eastern Europe in a century of change: 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.
• Just Screw It: How I Told My Family I Was Writing About Our Feud Over the Sweet'n Low Fortune (Rich Cohen, Slate 3-29-07)
• ‘Kiss Everybody’: Parents’ Voicemails Preserve Their Memory in Death (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, 5-22-15) Reporter marvels how the things he cherishes most about his parents aren’t those that he would have ever imagined. "I then made the fortuitous discovery that my smart phone was really smart—it required a second delete to send discarded messages into the ether....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." Same program on Terry Gross's Fresh Air (5-25-15, listen or read transcript).
• Laugh, Kookaburra (David Sedaris, New Yorker, 8-24-09 -- an example of "show, not tell" about family relationships)
• The Lead Belt Jewish History Project (Teresa Ressel, Daily Journal, 2013 story) about "The Lead Belt Jewish Oral History Project” as told to Anita Hecht of Life History Services in collaboration with the Missouri Lead Belt Jewish Historical Society.
• Learning to Do Historical Research: A Primer for Environmental Historians and Others . William Cronon surveys essential stages of the research process and different kinds of documents that can offer information and insights about the past
• Legacy letters (ethical wills)
• A Letter from Sendai (Anne Thomas, Ode, 3-14-11, on experiencing unexpected kindnesses and grace after (and between) earthquakes and aftershocks in Japan, 2011.
• The Letters of Others (Sofia E. Groopman, Harvard Crimson, 7-6-11). She's writing about researchers and famous people but what she says applies to personal projects as well.
• Life After Tim, by Janet Burroway (St. 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.
• Life Savers: Capturing your family history is a phone call away. Mary Helen Tibbs (Memphis magazine, 4-07, PDF) hears about the "legacy videos" produced by husband-wife team Verissima Productions (Rob Cooper and Pam Pacelli).
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• Life's Stories (Julie Beck, The Atlantic, 8-10-15) How you arrange the plot points of your life into a narrative can shape who you are—and is a fundamental part of being human."Pretty much from birth, people are “actors.” They have personality traits, they interact with the world, they have roles to play—daughter, sister, the neighbor’s new baby that cries all night and keeps you up. When they get old enough to have goals, they become “agents,” too—still playing their roles and interacting with the world, but making decisions with the hopes of producing desired outcomes. And the final layer is “author,” when people begin to bundle ideas about the future with experiences from the past and present to form a narrative self." (Quoting Dan McAdams)
• Life Story Institute (Charlie Kempthorne's Journalong and other treasures, from one of the pioneer personal historians)
• Life Story Writing: How putting events into a story may aid the healing process (links to excellent pieces on Dying, Surviving, and Aging with Grace website)
• The Life Review Process in Later Adulthood, PhD dissertation by Linda M. 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."
****The Life Report,. First "fascinating and addictive" life stories (prepare for a long read) posted after David Brooks asked, on the NY Times Op Ed page (10-27-11): If you are over 70... I’d like you to write a brief report on your life so far, an evaluation of what you did well, of what you did not so well and what you learned along the way." The first life reports were followed by Life Reports II (11-28-11).
• Life Savers: Capturing your family history is a phone call away. Mary Helen Tibbs (Memphis magazine, 4-07, PDF) hears about the "legacy videos" produced by husband-wife team Verissima Productions (Rob Cooper and Pam Pacelli).
• The life story business and market (links to stories about, Writers and Editors site)
• A Life Without Left Turns (Michael Gartner, USA Today, 6-15-06). A moving story that illustrates how a life (and a long, happy marriage) can be depicted through one theme --in this case, that this journalist's father chose early in life never to drive--to walk, or to be a passenger and navigator, instead)
• Lifewriting Basics (Telling HerStory, Story Circle Network)
• The Listening Project (BBC). BBC Radio4's answer to StoryCorps: Capturing the nation in conversation to build a unique picture of our lives today and preserve it for future generations.
• Listening--Really Listening and More on Listening by Susan Turnbull (Personal Legacy Advisors), with a link to Nancy Kline's "Generative Attention--Transformative Listening."
• Lives During Wartime (Home Fires Readers, NYTimes, American Veterans on the Post-War Life, launched 11-10-09)
• 'Living headstones' use technology to honor the dead (Susan Gilmore, Seattle Times 7-31-11). "Wave a smartphone over the bench-style headstone of Edouard Garneau at Holyrood Cemetery in Shoreline and you'll learn he was a collision-repair specialist and successful businessman who loved to barbecue, fly his airplane and travel." Technology brings digital 'lives' to the graveyard.
• Long Beach’s first human library puts phrase ‘I’m an open book’ to the test (Cory Bilicko, Signal Tribute, 6-6-14) Seventeen local people from strikingly diverse backgrounds agreed to become the first-edition “books” in Long Beach’s inaugural human library last Saturday, allowing anyone off the street to sit with them for 15 minutes and ask them questions to learn from their life experiences. What a wonderful idea and event!
• ‘Love and Stuff’ (Judith Helfand, NY Times, 5-7-14, video and print) After her mother passes away, the filmmaker Judith Helfand struggles to pack up her things — figuring out what to keep and how to let go. "Had my mother and I done this sifting and packing together, the way she pleaded with me over the years between her diagnosis and death, I’m now convinced that we would have bonded over the memories wrapped in all that stuff. But when I had the time to go through all this with her, I didn’t."
• Love Letters from 1912 (posted on Kirsten Transcribes website). Disarming love letters between two men and a woman. Here's the archive if you want to follow the series of letters (built-in human drama)
• A love story in black and white (print and video, Jewish Forward, 9-7-12). Same story (about my goddaughter) told in the NYTimes wedding section Abigail Rasminsky, David Goldstein (7-22-12). Note what he did with their emails.

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• Make History: The 9/​11 Museum (add your story to the collective telling of the events of September 11). Here's Steve Rosenbaum, with I've Got My 9/​11 Story. What's Yours? (his account of the filmed records he collected and donated)
• Mama Always Comes Home (Debbie Brodsky, Bethesda Magazine, 2-10, on creating a deployment video: a military mom's messages to her children)
• A Man, His Wife, and a Fish: A Love Story (Sam Uhl, APH blog, 2-20-13). A delightful story about the power of listening--especially the power of a young person listening to an elder)
• Man Who Learned to Read at 91, Writes a Book at 98 (Good News Network, 3-5-12)
• Mapping Memory in Spain project, part of effort to capture memories of Spain's Civil War and top confront the legacy of 40 years of Franco's dictatorship
• Memoirs and Memory, by Frank Bruni, author of Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater
• Memoir of time spent with Grandma reveals old truths, young wisdom (Kathryn Borel, Globe & Mail, 3-15-13). This is an essay more than a review, but it's a good enough review that I've already ordered my copy of The Truth About Luck: What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma by Iain Reid.
• Memorial videos give lasting farewell (Jeff Strickler, StarTribune 6-6-11). Shortly before Connie Dunlap died in October, she sat in front of a camera focused in a tight close-up and talked about her faith and how it shaped her battle against cancer....Ken Kurita of Videon Productions teared up as he showed a video taken of his father, Dr. Kenji Kurita, who died in January. “This is all about life’s treasured moments,” Ken Kurita said.

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• Memory Café opens for couples dealing with Alzheimer's (Alzheimers Reading Room)
• The Memory Lady’s Daughter Tries to Fill the Gaps (Beth Thompso, NY Times, 8-12-13). A daughter whose mother is 94 cares for the generations before and after her, living their lives and preserving their memories.
• Memory Writers Network (essays about memoir writing, on Jerry Waxler's blog)
• The Me My Child Mustn't Know by Dani Shapiro (NY Times 7-14-11). Can a memoirist write with total honesty if she is worried about what her son might think? (The book Shapiro doesn't want her son to hear her read from is Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy
• Merrill Memoirs keeps stories alive (Brenna McCabe, Valley Breeze 12-14-11)
• Michael Kinsley Has Some Advice for Baby-Boomers Who’d Like to Be Remembered (Vanity Fair, 4-4-16) "...the ultimate baby-boomer competition, the one coming next, [is] about reputation. How will you be remembered after you die? You’re going to be dead for longer than you were alive, and all you will have is your reputation. So you want to pay some attention to it while something can still be done."
• Metropolitan Diary: ‘Anything Goes’ on the Streets of New York (these particular diary entries are from the NY Times on 8-7-11; there is a collection of them here.
• Missing Christian Velten inspires life story books. British personal history firm launched after founder's brother disappears at age 28 (BBC News)
• Modernizing the ‘Kodak Moment’ as Social Sharing (Stuart Elliott, NY Times 4-25-10: 'Chief memory officer of the family' is the archetypal consumer in new Kodak ad.
• More retirees sharing life stories and values through ethical wills, other personal legacies (Dave Carpenter, Washington Post, 10-4-12, 2 pages). Life histories, ethical wills and video recordings are just some of the ways people are leaving their personal legacies for loved ones
• The Mormor Monologues Give Nanas Back Their Voice (Linda Abbit, Senior Planet, 10/​28/​2013) “Mormor is the Norwegian nana – the one who always listens, gives advice, nurtures and comforts. But is anyone listening to Mormor?” he Mormor Monologues – a web-based art project – brings to life a series of older women via a creative, multisensory experience made up of of their recorded voices with English subtitles and photos of each woman in her home surroundings.
• The Most Valuable Investing Lesson I Ever Learned (John Reeves, The Motley Fool, 10-18-12). John took my life writing course, and his stories were excellent even then!
• The Moth, , a nonprofit group that runs storytelling events in New York and Los Angeles
--Storytellers Finding Success on Stages Large and Small: Going Solo Gets Crowded by Alex Williams, NYTimes 8-14-09 --Songs of Themselves (Jim O'Grady, NYTimes, 11-14-08)
• A Mother's Farewell Joanne Fowler, People Magazine 12-4-06). At 50 and facing terminal cancer, Pam Fairmont made a video for her 10-year-old son Connor. Her message: 'I'll always be with you.'
• Mother's Day Special: Better than roses Want to do something really special for your mom this Mother's Day? Find out who she really is (Marylaine Block, My Word's Worth)
• Mutti makes a memoir (Felt & Wire). thanks to a skilled ghostwriter, a generous husband and an on-demand publishing platform, Margarete Aust McNeice has a beautiful book to leave her daughters, grandchildren, and 90-year-old sister.
• My Absent Father (Jane Smiley, The New Yorker, 10-3-14) His absence turned out to be a gift.
• My Chosen People (Abigail Rasminsky, The Jewish Daily Forward, 4-2-08) "Here I was, surrounded by four clueless goyim, and I had stumbled upon the meaning of the holiday. I suddenly understood that it wasn’t about remembering the schlep my ancestors made from Egypt to give me my freedom. It was about honoring what we all overcome every day to be where we are..."
• My Father's Coat (Cathy de Moll, Cowbird 1-11-15) "Cowbird is a public library of human experience, offering a simple set of storytelling tools — for free, and without ads."
• My Father's Voice. Taylor Plimpton, New Yorker, 6-17-12, writing with moving honesty about his father, George Plimpton.
• My Grandparents’ Generation (a poem by Faith Shearin, The Writer's Almanac, 5-4-15). Read and listen.
• My Grandfather the Outlaw (Frank Bruni, Opinion, NY Times, 2-2-13)
• My artobiography: From birth, to marriage, to her son's early death. How one woman chronicled her life in a series of sketches (Sabine Durrant, Daily Mail, 11-24-10. Ann Frewer's book, Life, the Greatest Privilege, makes a lovely gift.
• My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant (Jose Antonio Vargas, NY Times 6-22-2011)
• My Life in Hiding by Maja Hrabowska (PBS, 5-16-13) on her harrowing experience surviving the Holocaust). "For years we tried to retain sanity by silencing the scream, by hiding our memories deep in subconsciousness, and for some time it worked. We knew something that others didn’t, and this secret was with us only; we carried this burden alone. The war was over, but we were different from other young people, quieter, more careful whom we talk to, feeling still unsafe. Many years passed, and now unexpectedly I found that there are others with similar pasts, and hidden memories."
• My Motherless Mother (Candy Schulman, Opinionator, NY Times, 1-13-16)
• My Mother Was an Okie by Beth Lightfoot (a KitchenScraps story posted on Women's Memoirs)
• My Son, My Soldier, My Sorrow. (Janet Burroway, St. Petersburg Press 6-13-04). Three essays written over 20 years by a liberal, pacifist mother struggling to understand her conservative son, a proud soldier and member of the NRA
• My Turn: Saving a life, for those left behind (Jane Lehmann-Shafron, Los Angeles Times 12-12-11). "I have interviewed hundreds of people — most of them in their 70s and older. While I can't be sure that I have added any days to those lives, I am certain that, for my subjects and their families, helping tell their stories has saved their lives by creating a little piece of immortality.I do know that telling my dad's story helped preserve his life and gave new meaning to my own."
• My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History, ed. by Paula Yost and Pat McNees, with foreword by Rick Bragg. “At last, a collection that shows the ‘why, what, and how’ behind memoir as legacy.”~ Susan Wittig Albert, author of Writing from Life
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• Narrative and healing (Aron S. Wolf, MD, on why telling your story is good for your health)
• Narrative medicine. Stories in Medicine: Doctors-in-Training Record a Different Type of Patient History (Margot Adler, NPR, 10-28-03)
• The Narrative Playbook: The Strategic Use of Story to Improve Care, Healing, and Health (Business Innovation Factory, funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
• The nature and malleability of memory, links to many interesting pieces, including this round-up: How reliable are our memories (how close to the truth)? Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog, 8-31-13)
• A Show-and-Tell for Adults in Brooklyn (ichard Morgan, Wall Street Journal blog, 1-17-14) Remembering the past, sharing as a group.
• 93-year-old's WWII feats are hidden no longer (Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11-23-08, a personal story of heroism becomes social history)
• No other family's quite like yours, so capture its history (Andrea Gross, St Petersburg Times, 8-28-07). Those funny tales and memories needn't fade with time and distance.
• Not all the victims of Hitler died before he did. Mike Shatzkin, who blogs about publishing and digital change, posted this entry between engagements; it is a fascinating example of history made vivid through personal history.
• Not Quite What I Was Planning, NPR's delightful slideshow of images and text from the book Not Quite What I Was Planning:Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Rachel Fershleisher and Larry Smith, based on the six-word memoirs from the storytelling magazine Smith.
• Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins. Amazon review: "This is a book without traditional heroes, but one in which you'll find yourself rooting for the non-heroes who struggle to give meaning to their lives, the daughter by walking and the father by selling his daughter's books along the way. Both finally have the time to explore and try to overcome memories of bad times in their relationship, and both realize the time remaining to mend their ways is short."
• Nurturing the Right to Be Heard (Penelope Franklin, Association of Personal Historians blog, 10-16-13) Women, in particular, are waiting to be heard -- are given fewer opportunities than men to tell their stories.
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• Object Lessons in History (Sam Roberts, NY Times, 9-27-14). Five years ago, the BBC and the British Museum collaborated on a hugely successful radio series and book called A History of the World in 100 Objects (by Neil MacGregor). The Smithsonian followed up with The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects (by Richard Kurin). "Material culture has become a science among academics, but let’s acknowledge that it’s also a clever way to hook people on history."
• The Objects of Family History (Kathy Miller, Women and Work...Then and Now, 9-30-14) “Objects have heft. We can touch their surface, feel their weight. Objects have purpose. They do things that shape lives and events. Though not all objects survive, even those that don’t have a place in our memory very different from words and images....for my sisters and me, objects that mattered were those that could take us back to the everydayness of our growing up.Those aluminum cups that we always pulled out for outdoor picnics....The mixing bowls in the kitchen, the colored blocks we stacked as toddlers, the funnies from the Detroit Free Press."
• Olivia Bee’s Personal Images of Her Teenage Years (Gina Liberto, NY Times Magazine, T blog, 6-19-14)
• Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (PBS Series, with clips from firsthand accounts of war by servicemen and women)
• Ordinary People (Chris Wright, Boston Phoenix 1-17-02). Memoirs used to be the territory of the famous, the intrepid, or the afflicted. Today, everyone's getting into the act, often with the help of a personal historian.
• Organizing and Preserving Your Heirloom Documents by Katherine Scott Sturdevant (how to safely collect, preserve, and publish diaries, memoirs, letters, papers, or memorabilia from your relatives and ancestors)
• Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI) nationwide sponsor a lot of life story writing programs. Here are some stories posted by OLLI'sLife Story Center (Jennie Chin Hansen, James Birren, Sophie Freud)
• Our Imagined Families: The Myths and Rituals We Live By (PDF, John R. Gillis, Working Paper 7, The Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life, Feb. 2002)
• Our stories, ourselves (Sadie F. Dingfelder, Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association Jan 2011). The tales we tell hold powerful sway over our memories, behaviors and even identities, according to research from the burgeoning field of narrative psychology.
• The Oxford Project. Do check out these photos, and read about the project: Photo project gives voice to 'backbone of America' (Wayne Drash, CNN, 10-7-08, with video, photos, text)

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• Pain, But No Regrets: A Father Remembers His Adopted Son (Bill Jones, StoryCorp story, Morning Edition, NPR, 2-20-15)
• Passive Aggressive Note (folk humor in the digital age?)
• Permanent Record: A trove of 1920s report cards and the stories they tell (Paul Lukas, Slate, a series that starts 9-18-11 and continues in July 2012):
1. How I found the report cards, and how they changed my life.
2. Searching for Marie Garaventa
3: Lucille Fasanalla saved the romper she made as a student at Manhattan Trade her whole life.
4: How the Manhattan Trade School prepared a generation of New York women for the workplace.
5: Making stuffed animals for John and Caroline Kennedy.
6: Rose Vrana is 95. She went to trade school in the 1930s. I found her report card. Then I found her
7: Eva and Bee: Both children of the Depression, one ended up designing Mamie Eisenhower’s inaugural gown, the other was a mentor to Calvin Klein.
8: The saddest story in the report cards I found—and how it came to have a happy ending.
• Keep up with the project by reading the Permanent Record blog (untold stories from a stash of Depression-era report cards)
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• Personal/​History: Teaching the Next Generation about the AIDS Crisis (David Robinson, MyJewishLearning, 1-25-16)
• Personal History (a wonderful series of essays in the New Yorker, series described here.
• Personal History Productions. On the Aging Boomers Radio Show (Sonoma County), listen to personal historians Susan Milstein and Andi Reese Brady tell how they developed a business interviewing people about their lives and presenting them as audio CDs or beautiful bound books
• Photo album rescued from trash a trove of WWII African American life (Bonnie L. Cook, Philadelphia Inquirer, philly.com 1-30-12)
• PhotoBook Press (for heirloom-quality photobooks, made with archival paper and Smyth-sewn-signature bindings, which, unlike glued bindings, won't fall apart)
• A photographer documents her late husband’s belongings: ‘The leftover scraps of ordinary life’. (Giulia Rhodes, The Guardian, 11-21-15) When Carol Hudson’s husband died suddenly, she took photographs of his possessions. The result is a moving portrait of him. "I always photograph. That is how I get through things.’"
• Photo hosting websites (useful when a group is collecting and posting photos for a big project)
• Photos uncover travels of Frontenac couple, thanks to Facebook (Susan Weich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 2013). Amateur photographer Jeff Phillips found and bought a cache of 1,100 slides for $60, then set about tracking down the people in the photos, via Facebook. He created a Facebook page called “Is this your mother?”, an online conversation ensued, and three weeks later the family found the site. Then the whole episode became an exhibit.
• Playing Kitchen Detective: Home Cooks Try to Recreate Family Recipes; What Did Grandma Put in Her Kugel? (Alina Dizik, WSJ, 2-22-12)
• Postcards from Yo Momma (a repository of modern-day maternal correspondence, sure to make you smile)
• Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children ed. by Dorie McCullough Lawson
• Potter's Field, Hart Island, New York. Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves (Nina Bernstein, NY Times, 5-15-16) Over a million people are buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island. A New York Times investigation uncovers some of their stories and the failings of the system that put them there. Sidebar: How to Avoid the Fate of a Common Grave (Nina Bernstein, 5-15-16) Revealing the many paths that led New Yorkers to a common grave.

• The Power of Daily Writing in a Journal (Clare Ansberry, Wall Street Journal, 1-26-16) Keeping a journal for 52 years has helped Charley Kempthorne to be happier, healthier
• The Power of Telling Family Stories (Mike Brozda, AgingCare.com). How reminiscing and remembering the past helps seniors. Draws on “Do You Know? The power of family history in adolescent identity and well-being (Robyn Fivush, Marshall Duke, and Jennifer G. Bohanek for Journal of Family Life ( (2-23-10). Bottom line: Children benefit from knowing about their relatives.
• The Power of the Earliest Memories (Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, 4-7-14). "Sorry, Facebook: Parents, Not Snapshots, Are the Way for Kids to Capture and Benefit From Memories" "Early memories have a higher likelihood of surviving when children are encouraged to talk about them soon after the event." Ask open-ended who, what, where, and when questions, not questions with one-word answers.
• The Prayer of an Unconventional Family (Anne Lamott, Opinionator, NY Times, 11-17-12)
• Preserving Market Memories: Ann Arbor Farmers Market project records oral history (Rebecca Friedman, Ann Arbor Chronicle)
• Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time (Claire Martin, NY Times, 3-15-14) "StoryWorth provides a selection of questions, chosen by Ms. Leiken, for her mother to answer each week. It then emails the questions to Ms. Mills, and when she replies, her answers go to her family and are stored on a website where they can read them privately. It is one of a handful of new companies focused on enabling people to collect their family histories."
• Preserving Your Family History (Terri Scott, Bellaire Buzz, Nov 2011, interviewing Susan Farnsworth, owner of Susan's Concierge for Seniors, and video personal historian Stefani Twyford).
• Print on demand (POD), what you need to know
• Privately Published Autobiographies by Texans: Their Significance for Scholars by Jane F. Healey. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 95, No. 4 (Apr., 1992), pp. 497-508
Published by: Texas State Historical Association, available to subscribers only (and in some libraries)
• The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age (William Cronon, Perspectives on History, American Historical Association)
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• Questions We Should All Ask Mom (Lisa Belkin, Motherlode blog, NY Times 5-6-09)
• Radio spots tell stories of forgotten New Mexicans, UFO-spotting (Kathaleen Roberts, Columbus, Indiana Republic 2-8-12). State folklorist Claude Stephenson trimmed 261 oral portraits down to 240 words timed at 1.58 minutes each, snippets of New Mexico history about everyone from Ham the astrochimp to a UFO-spotting Socorro sheriff.
• Real estate video for restored 140-acre Wisconsin farm borrows personal history approach to make a property enticing.
• Recipe books
---Playing Kitchen Detective: Home Cooks Try to Recreate Family Recipes; What Did Grandma Put in Her Kugel? (Alina Dizik, WSJ, 2-22-12)
---Between the Recipes, Scribbles Speak Volumes (Kate Murphy, NY Times, 1-28-13, on the marginalia in cookbooks--comments scribbled in the margins)
---The Joy of Preserving Recipes (Mary V. Danielsen, Documented Legacies, Flip-Pal, Part 1 in series)
---Organizing Your Family Cookbook Project (Mary V. Danielsen, Part 2)
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• Recording family histories before it's too late (Rosemary McClure, LA Times, 12-19-09)
• Recording Your Story, (Logan Molineaux, Daily Herald, Utah). Very helpful for beginning personal historians and their clients.
Rediscovering WWII's female 'computers' (Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN, 2-8-11). This story of women secretly recruited during WWII to calculate weapons' trajectories for fighting U.S. troops is captured in the documentary Top Secret Rosies (on Vimeo).
• Reflections (these excellent Novartis images, by Tom Hussey, capture a current image of an elder looking in a mirror at a younger image of themselves)
• Remembering together - How long-term couples develop interconnected memory systems (Alex Fradera, Research Digest, 7-29-14) "It's possible that as we grow older, we offset the unreliability of our own episodic systems by drawing on the memorial support offered by a trusted partner. This might explain why when one member of an older couple experiences a drop in cognitive function, the other soon follows. Our memory systems are more of a shared resource than we realise."
• Researching family history has never been easier (7 on Your Side story: "It is a gift that will last generations."
• Re-membering Pets: Documenting the meaning of people’s relationships with these family members by narrative therapist Barbara Baumgartner, in Explorations: An E-Journal of Narrative Practice
• Remember this? A project to record everything we do in life (Alec Wilkinson,The New Yorker, 5-28-07, on "lifelogging")
• Retirement home bands together to bring WWII stories to life . Their stories are collected in World War II Remembered (by residents of Kendal at Hanover)
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• Sages & Seekers, a nonprofit organization designed to bridge the intergenerational gap between seniors and teenagers in order to generate the exchange of valuable wisdom, strengthen community, and dissolve age-related segregation-- in other words, young people interview old people about their lives. Here are answers to frequently asked questions.
• Sasha and Zamani, African proverb about the two stages of death. Steve Pender's blog entry about African concept that you are truly dead when you are no longer remembered. Stefani Twyford on the same story, both of them citing James Walsh, who spoke of the proverb/​concept at an APH conference.

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• Save a Life…In a Story. Marcia Passos Duffy (SeniorJournal.com, 4-12-05, on becoming , a personal historian, after realizing she'd failed to capture her late mother's stories
• Saving Carnegie Hall (Joanne Kaufman, WSJ, 4-17-13) Carnegie Hall's archivist, Gino Francesconi, went from conducting Respighi to conducting research.
• ScrapMoir (Bettyann Schmidt, guestblogger, Women's Memoirs, on scrapbooking around ordinary moments in life)
• The secrets buried under a family tree (Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, 4-18-08)
• Secrets of Memoir panel (Video of panel discussion held 11-2-11 at NYU Bookstore, sponsored by National Book Critics Circle)
• Secrets of a Successful Interview (Valerie Holladay, Ancestry Magazine, 2-05)
• The Secrets We Keep ("Mit Schlag," on Mother Sugar blog, 12-10-12). Writing anonymously, a happily pregnant but exhaustingly nauseated and 24-hour "morning sick" young woman writes about the secrecy and denial with which countless women cloak their first trimester. "I wonder whose anxiety we’re trying to protect in concealing these first few difficult months: the mother-to-be? Are we trying to protect me from the shame of admitting I am barely functional; that I can’t go 45 minutes without eating? That I’m afraid of losing the baby? 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?"
• The Secret Tales of an Irish Boyhood Long Ago (Michael Whelan, IrishCentral, 8-27-15) "Before he died, I sat down with [my father} to talk in a way I had not talked with him as a child. “What was it like,” I asked, “the world where you grew up?” In his answers I felt a psychic legacy pass to me, an uncanny sense resonate in me for a world gone forever, a memory wakened of a lost boyhood which somehow I knew."
• Seeing the Subway as an Open Book (Jackie Bischof, WSJ online, 6-22-12, profiles freelance photographer Ourit Ben-Haim about her surreptitious portraits of New York subway riders as they read their books)
• Self-Portrait in a Skewed Mirror by Carlin Flora (Psychology Today 1-1-06). You're more than the star and author of your own life story. You're also the spin master. How you tell your tale reveals whether you see yourself as victim or victor, even when your story veers from the life you lived.
• Self-Publishing and Print on Demand (what you need to know)
• Shapeshifting (Marjorie Turner Hollman, Sharing the Fire presenter, League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling, 1-20-16) Love the Rumpelstiltskin comments.
• Sharing Life Stories (Peg Milnik, Press Democrat, 2-3-13). There's a burgeoning effort among estate planners, educators and financial advisers to encourage older people to get their stories recorded. This story is about four personal historians who help make that happen.
• Shopping for Antiques, Finding My Mother (Healther Sellers, Opinionator, NY Times, 5-14-15) About the power of objects to help us hold on...."The whole time I’d grown up with her, and long after, she’d desperately worried that people were trying to take her things....She scattered photographs, destroyed my father’s 1950s love letters to her, gave away her lovely kitchen things and then called me, wondering where they had gone. Alzheimer’s took her memory, and she lost everything...."
• 6th graders create civil rights documentary (Doug Moore, Post-Dispatch, 2-1-11). History teachers everywhere: Read this story!
• Should You Worry About Data Rot? David Pogue, Pogue's Posts on Technology (3-26-09), writes about problems in deterioration, stickiness, poor storage quality, online storage sites going out of business overnight, technologies changing and equipment for reading data becoming obsolete. Enjoy the videos, but for preservation, consider the book.
• Soldier admits sneaking into Auschwitz during WWII Mike Collett-White (Reuters)‘My life depended on 50 cigarettes,’ 92-year-old says in interview about biography The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II by Denis Avey with Rob Broomby
• Soldiers Lost and Found: Students Rediscover the Fallen (Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, 10-20-12). A generation of Tom Clark's high school history students have been tracking down the families of Indiana's war dead and creating an archive of their stories. "His classroom is like a forgotten corner of the Smithsonian."
• Speak, Memory by Oliver Sacks (New York Review of Books 2-21-13). Fascinating article about the nature and relationship of memory and storytelling, and the fallibility and malleability of human memory.
• Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. (Ann Banks, My Turn, Newsweek.) Don't underestimate the power of storytelling. It got folks through the Depression. It can work now, too.
• Stories about patients in clinical research at NIH (Read more stories in Building Ten at Fifty by Pat McNees.
• The Stories of the Holocaust (Robin Pogrebin,, NY Times, 3-20-13), about Coming of Age in the Holocaust an exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, done jointly with The Ghetto Fighters' House Museum
• The Stories That Bind Us (Bruce Feiler, NY Times, This Life, 3-151-13). “The last few years have seen stunning breakthroughs in knowledge about how to make families, along with other groups, work more effectively. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” Children learn resilience when they hear what their relatives before them have faced. See also The Stories That Bind Us: What Are the Twenty Questions? (Marshall P. Duke, Huff Post, 2-23-15)
• Stories Waiting to Be Told (Mary Harrison, Teaching Tolerance, Perspective No. 18, Fall 2000). 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.
• The Stories We Tell, or How I Met My Husband (Sharon Greenthal, Huff Post, 11-1-12) "What narrative do you have about your life? I don't mean the voice in your head that speaks to you about things you'd rather not hear, like 'get your butt to the gym,' or 'you need to call your mother.' I'm talking about the narrative you share with others, the stories you tell to define yourself to the world. "
• Storycatching guidelines, for storycatching with a circle of friends, based on Christina Baldwin's book, Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story

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• Story Circle Network, an active organization for women with stories to tell. Among other activities, an annual storytelling contest
• Story Corps audio interviews. 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. Modeled on the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (under FDR), StoryCorps engages Americans locally in oral history, archiving interviews at the American Folklife Center (Library of Congress).
• StoryCorps "about" page. StoryCorps's focused initiatives include StoryCorps Griot (preserving the voices, experiences, and life stories of African Americans), the Memory Loss Initiative, StoryCorps Alaska (capturing the stories of Alaska's Native population)StoryCorps Outloud (capturing the experiences of the LGBTQ community), StoryCorps September 11th Initiative (to record at least one story to honor each life lost in the attacks on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993), and the National Teachers Initiative (now closed).
• Storycorps: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Andrew Shaffer's excellent evaluation of the pros and cons of using the StoryCorps app (for Oral History Review, 11-13-15). Easy to use, and when it works, it works, but "the app’s downtime and the possibility of erasure could seriously derail a more time sensitive or serious oral history project." A must-read.
• StoryCorps Animated Shorts. Here's an interview with Studs Terkel, for example.
• StoryCorps Historias (Cuenta tu historia, or, Capturing Stories of Latinos in U.S.)
• StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative. Download free Commemorate toolkit to help preserve the memories of clients living with memory loss (zipfile, especially for caregivers in memory-loss care facilities)
• The story of a girl. Rick Smolan's TED talk, 12-07, about a young Amerasian girl born in Korea and raised by her Korean grandmother-- and how their lives changed when a photographer got involved
• The story of our lives (Imane Kurdi, Saudi Gazette, 3-30-13). Five years ago the Hospital of Chartres started hiring a family biographer for patients in their oncology department.
• Storytellers help neighbors lower blood pressure (Mary Parker, Boston.com 1-24-11). Peer-to-peer storytelling may help African-Americans deal with high blood pressure, according to a new study.
• Storyteller’s Techniques Help Students Create and Save Stories (Marjorie Turner Hollman, APH blog, 9-18-13) Hollman's storytelling background helped her draw the kids in and teach them not only to tell their stories but to write them down. Her process engaged not just the students but their parents, too.
• Storytellers preserving rich history of Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood, collecting oral histories for The Oakwood Project (Raleigh, North Carolina)
• The Strangers Project, an ongoing collection of 15,000+ anonymous stories from the lives of the strangers we share our world with. Every page is handwritten right on the spot.
• Sudbury company helps preserve family history (Carole LaMond, MetroWest Daily News, 1-3-11). Profile of personal historians Chris Wisniewski and Stephanie Nichols, showing how PHs help families preserve their memories, stories)
• Suddenly, They’re All Gone "While you’re caring for the old, you can’t believe what you’re called on to do and where you find yourself, can’t believe that your time with them will ever end. Then one day, it just does.... The caregiving is over, but instead of feeling relieved, I feel worse."
• Take Time to Tell Your Story (Independent Mail.com, 11-18-12)
• Tales from the Past (Patricia R. Olsen, Fresh Starts, NY Times, 10-11-08). Susan Owens is part of a growing trend of entrepreneurs (personal historians) who capture the stories of older generations.
• Talking Photos (Legacy Stories -- click on the title under the phone and listen to audiofile of an interview with person shown)
• Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance by Joshua Glenn. 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.
• Talk to Me: Authentic Conversations Between Parents and Children. See Introducing Talk to Me (Christina Huffington, Huff Post, 4-4-16)

• The Task. An 8-part series about grief, mourning and memory after a father's death (Olivia Judson, Opinionator, NY Times, 2014).
--- 1.Home, Dismantled (Olivia Judson)
--- 2. Scenes of Confusion (2-16-14)
--- 3. Stalin and Soap (Olivia Judson 2-17-14)
--- 4. 54 Drawers (Olivia Judson, 2-18-14)
--- 5. A Piece of DNA (2-19-14)
--- 6. Weighing the Ice Cream (2-20-14)
--- 7 To Read or Not to Read?
--- 8 The Memory Stone
---The entire series
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• Teenage Diaries—Decades Later—Mortify and Entertain (Dan Frosch, WSJ, 3-9-15) On stage, adults dredge up their youthful ruminations on crushes, tans, telepathic animals
• Tell Me More: On the Fine Art of Listening by Brenda Ueland, from her book Strength to Your Sword Arm: Selected Writings
• A Train, A Spoon and the Continuity of the Family Story (Robert Holton, Wealth Management.com, 12-9-14) "Objects become part of the family story and are imbued with an emotional value far beyond their economic value....For families and family advisors, we must at least attempt to address these story objects to avoid contentious issues later and perhaps build a more positive outcome for our families. And in doing so, we give these objects new purpose, and we give our family a shared story."
• Telling Your Story TV interview with APH member Deb Moore and client Robin Horder-Koop about doing a personal history (5-minute YouTube video, What's West online, 12-15-09)
• The Terkel Rules: Translating from speech to prose. Michael Lenehan's fascinating conversation with Studs Terkel on when and how much it is okay to cut and paste (rearrange) material from an interview to make it seem as if that's the way the interview subject said it. (Should also be read by all transcribers and personal historians.)(Chicago Reader, 10-31-08)

• Thanks(giving) for the memories—a preservation family project (Smithsonian Institution Archives). 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.
• Therapeutic Writing (Carol Keegan, stroke survivor, Stroke Connection, Spring 2013)
• A Therapist in the Mist: Where Therapy and Personal History Meet (Teri Friedman, APH blog, 10-9-13)
• These Stories Will Change Your Life (Andrea Gross, Newsweek, My Turn, 7-21-06. What hearing my family history taught me about my mother and father)
• Thinking About Memoir (Abigail Thomas, AARP, July 2008--watch the video, her talking about why people write memoirs). ). On other topics, watch her (after a short ad) talk about What Others Will Think. Click on subheads and see what she says about Structure, Direction, and Details--all previews for her book, Thinking About Memoir.
• This I Believe (Stefani Twyford, "I believe in the power of the family story," Houston Public Radio, 2-13-09)
• This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It), (Benedict Carey, Science section, New York Times 5-22-07)
• This is your life. Stop tweeting, texting and multitasking for a minute. Instead, tell your story. (Michael McQueen,
Ode magazine, October 2010.)"As I sat there reading through my dad’s journal, I was captivated by how much I didn’t know about my father and his life. I was struck by the things that were important to him but had gone unspoken, and by how much we had in common....Don’t underestimate the power of your life’s stories. It may be tempting to put off ­sharing or writing them down for another day, but instead make that day today."
• To Be Read in the Event of My Death (Carol Burke, Narratively, illus. by Julia Gfrörer) A writer embedded in Afghanistan takes an intimate look at one of war’s most private and painful traditions--final words left for survivors.
• To Ireland, a Son’s Journey Home (Frank Bruni, travel memoir essay, NY Times Travel section, 10-26-12). His mother was from Ireland but in his Italian family Ireland got short shrift. Finally, he went there.
• Top Reasons to Record Your Military History (Mary V. Danielsen, Documented Legacy).
• Touchable Memories nice video brings to life a way to help the blind physically re-experience visual memories using 3D printers (pirate3D) to turn photographs into 3D-printed objects for people to feel, so they can "see" (with their fingers) a face or an ensemble of people.
• Trapped on the Wrong Side of History (Soundprint radio, Richard Paul, producer, 3-21-11) In 1939, California farm girl Mary Kimoto Tomita traveled to Japan to learn Japanese and connect with the culture of her ancestors--and because of Pearl Harbor was trapped there. Her story -- told through interviews and letters from the time -- is a rare glimpse at a piece of the World War II experience.
• Traversing the Mystery of Memory by Richard A. Friedman (NY Times, 12-30-03). About the accuracy of nostalgia and how the brain records memories. Friedman concludes: "if anything marks us as human, it's more our bent for making sense of things than for discovering the essential truth about them."
• Truant (poet Margaret Hasse's lovely poem about of a day she and her boyfriend skipped school).
• The Truth About Luck: What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma by Iain Reid. (Read this Globe & Mail review by Kathryn Borel, Memoir of time spent with Grandma reveals old truths, young wisdom.)
• The truth has a price (Lauren B. Davis on memoir's potential for collateral damage, Globe & Mail 9-11-09)
• 'Try to make a life' (Donald Snyder, NBC World News blog, 9-26-13). Margot Friedlander hid for 13 months before being discovered in April 1944 and sent to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in what is now the Czech Republic. "Try to make a life" is what her mother told her, during the war. After her husband's death in 1997, Friedlander took a memoir-writing class at the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan. "I wrote every night....I had all these stories in my head. Everything started coming back to me, many things that I pushed aside for years." She remembered the good Germans who risked their lives to save hers.
• 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History (a series on the site of the Association of Personal Historians, "The Life Story People")
• 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History (Carmen Nigro, New York Public Library, 2-9-15)
• 2 Women Moved to Write Stories Uncover a Surprisingly Personal One (Corey Kilgannon, NY Times, 5-15-15) The two women had come to Columbia to learn the finer points of storytelling and learned they were sisters, born to the same teenage mother in the early 1980s and adopted by different families.
• 272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants? (Rachel L. Swarns, NY Times, 4-1-16) In 1838, the Jesuit priests who ran the country’s top Catholic university needed money to keep it alive. Now comes the task of making amends.

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• Ugandan memory books (BBC photo story about how people in an oral-history culture are dealing with parents' early deaths from AIDS)
• Valrico memoir writing class is all about sharing (Eric Vician, Tampa Bay Times, 9-25-13) "The written word will never be replaced. Passing it along to family members is probably the greatest thing you can do in your life. It's a lost art."
• Veterans, Alone Together, Share Stories They Can’t Tell You (Lawrence Downes, NY Times Editorial Observer 10-5-08,writing about weekend workshop run by Vets 4 Vets, a Tucson nonprofit that is setting up peer support groups around the country for a new generation of veterans making the transition from "hunter-killer" mode to husband-student mode)
• Veterans History Project (capturing personal accounts of American war veterans and U.S. citizen civilians involved in war efforts, such as USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers). You can download the VHP field kit and forms online. See Newt Minow's letter, at 20, after returning home from service in World War II. (There's a page turner so you can see all nine pages.)
• Veterans Writing Project . Offers no-cost seminars and workshops for members of the armed forces, active and reserve, who want to learn about writing in order to tell their stories. Their core curriculum is Ron Capps's book Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Own Story. Written by a veteran for veterans, it details the elements of craft involved in writing both fiction and non-fiction. The Veterans Writing Project publishes a blog and a literary journal O-Dark-Thirty .
• Video Biography: The reluctant subject (Jane Lehman-Shafran, Video Biography Central, on why and how to keep after their life story)
• Video Memoir: The Life That Got Away (Jane Lehman-Shafran has made personal and family history documentaries for many clients, and regrets the one she didn't make -- of her Nana. On Wrote by Rote.)
• Virtual Wall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (look up Vietnam War casualties by name, place, date, and other details--get more info, add a photo, etc.)
• Video Memories (Anne W. Semmes, Greenwich Citizen, 4-10-13). As part of its ongoing exhibit, "From Italy to America," the Greenwich Historical Society offers "A Box of Photos Tells No Tales: Preserving Family History," a look at the latest trend in organizing and preserving personal histories -- the "Ken Burns-styled" video narratives of Peter Savigny (Time Stories, moving stories)
• Vivian Maier, the Chicago nanny and street photographer nobody knew about (fascinating story on Chicago Today). What would you have done with such a discovery? John Maloof started a Vivian Maier blog; see also Artsy's Vivian Maier page of photos.

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• Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man (Andrew Forsthoefel with Jay Allison, Transom.org, 4-2-13) Want to hear more? Listen to 40 stories on Cowbird.
• Walking Home Erika Swyler, The End, NY Times, 6-24-15)
• We Found Our Son in the Subway (Peter Mercurio, Townies, NY Times Opinionator page, 2-28-13). A wonderful story.
• What is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography (or memoirs)? Pat McNees, Writers and Editors
• What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows (John Tierney, NY Times, 7-8-13) Nostalgia, long considered a disorder, is now recognized to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety — making life seem more meaningful and death less frightening.
• What is the difference between a memoir (or memoirs) and an autobiography? (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors)
• What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories (Elaine Reese, The Atlantic, 12-9-13) "Over the last 25 years, a small canon of research on family storytelling shows that when parents share more family stories with their children -- especially when they tell those stories in a detailed and responsive way -- their children benefit in a host of ways."
• What's the Point? Bettyan Schmidt (guesting on Women's Memoirs) urges you to include stories with those scrapbook photos, not just headings: Tell stories about the memories those photos represent.
• What's Your Story? Participants have 10 minutes to share a part of their lives during monthly storyteller gatherings (Sherilyn Forrester, Tucson Weekly, 8-2-12)
• When Family Stories Are Hard to Tell (KJ Dell'Antonia, Motherlode, NY Times, 3-24-13). "When stories are difficult, tell them anyway.... There may be some stories that are never publicly told, but as families, we are the keepers of one another’s stories, no matter how brutal they are. We have to find our own ways to tell them."
• When I Was Your Age, We Didn't Have Sites for Writing Our Bios by Sarmad Ali (WSJ, 3-31-07, evaluating LifeBio.com and biowriters.Net)
• When Patients Share Their Stories, Health May Improve (Pauline W. Chen, MD, NY Times 2-10-11). See conversation about the article at Healing Through Storytelling Tara Parker-Pope, Well column, NY Times, 2-10-11).
• When Writers Expose the Dead (Ken Budd, Opinion, NY Times, 11-30-13) How do we handle the painful truth in our memoirs?
• Where I'm From, a poem by Georgia Lyon, which some teachers use as a writing prompt, suggesting that class members write their version. See examples on her website.
• Who owns the story? (part 1) and Who owns the story? (part 2), by Janet Riehl and Stephanie Farrow, are not about legal ownership but about ethical ownership, asking you questions such as "Is the story true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" and in particular, "With regard to secrets, are they necessary to your story? Are they yours to tell?" (Guest blogs on Women's Memoirs)
• Why I'm a Transformative Language Artist (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Huff Post, 8-25-14) "I've seen how coming together to tell our stories makes its own synergy and community, even among unlikely bedfellows, like the workshop I facilitated in a small Kansas town for "at-risk" and "troubled teens" coupled up with elderly women at a well-heeled retirement center. By the third week of writing together, the girls -- mostly abandoned by their mothers who favored drugs or abusive boyfriends instead of their daughters -- were sitting in the laps of the older women, reading their new poems aloud."
• Why memoir writer Deb Moore enjoys telling stories of others' lives (Terri Finch Hamilton, Grand Rapids Press 12-11-11)
• Why memory lane is such a mortifying stroll (Diane Mapes, msnbc, on how your brain is wired to keep mental souvenirs from times you'd rather forget), and her discussion of Robin Hemley's Do-Over! In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments
• Why Write Your Life Story (Pat's links, The Healing Powers of Narrative)
• Why write your memoir? Martha Jewett shares a few answers (4-7-09)
• With personal histories, everyone can star in their memoir (Marsha King, Seattle Times, 9-29-06)
• Words of Obama’s Father Still Waiting to Be Read by His Son (Rachel S. Swarns, NY Times, 6-18-16) Letters written long ago by Barack Obama Sr. shed new light on a young Kenyan whose ambitions helped change the course of U.S. history. But for the president, they may also revive old pain.
• World War I: Experiences of an English soldier (a blog made from transcripts of Harry Lamin's letters from the first World War, posted exactly 90 years after they were written)
• World War 2: 'We All Had a Piece of Hitler's Desk'. Joy Hunter recalls a remarkable life, working in Churchill's War Rooms and attending the historic Potsdam conference in 1945. (Elizabeth Grice, Telegraph, 9-3-09)
• Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right by Claire Conner, whose parents admired Franco and thought Eisenhower was a secret Communist.
• Write for Your Life (Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, 1-22-07)
• Writers and Editors (rich set of links to resources for writers and editors)
• Writing About Your Religious Upbringing: Jeanne Fobes on Growing Up Catholic (Memoir Mentor, 6-7-11).
• The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives (Anya Kamenetz, nprEd, 7-10-15) Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream? Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students.
• Writing Memoir (online community, AARP,
• Writing Our Lives in Challenging Times (Telling HerStory, StoryCircle Network). Blog with interesting writing prompts, wrapped in essays such as Failures and Other Fiascos (12-19-08) and Glories, Gifts--and Graces
• Writing Your Life Story--Tips and Techniques for Success (Mike Brozda)
• Writing Your Way to Happiness by Tara Parker-Pope (Well blog, NY Times, 1-19-15) "Researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health....Dr. Wilson believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. 'Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,' he said."
• A Year at War (stories of the 30,000 men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry, taking part in the Afghanistan surge), excellent New York Times video series.
• You Might Remember This. Painter/​experimental filmmaker Jeff Scher's animated portrait of his son Buster’s life from ages 6 to 10 (Opinionator blog, NY Times 6-18-11, music by Shay Lynch). See also You Won't Remember This (8-23-07, featuring Buster from birth through toddlerhood--music by Sam Bisbee), and You Won't Remember This Either (1-6-09, about younger son Oscar's toddler years). Says Scher: "All three films are about memory, which I like to think of as single grains of sand culled from the steady flow in the hourglass of our life and turned to pearls, to be strung and locked away where they wait, slowly fading. Buster might actually remember some of the moments depicted in this film; some he might remember because of this film. I will remember them all, having now engraved them in memory with crayon, paint and pencil."

Capturing Family Voices


• Robert DeNiro, interviewed by Katie Couric (2014), was asked: "Did you ever feel guilt that your Dad didn’t get recognition for his work?" DeNiro’s response: “Not guilty; I just feel responsible for him, for his legacy. I expect all kids in the family to be responsible for it. It’s just your duty”
• The Reluctant Witness (Mitch Albert's interview with Alan Berliner, who to create a documentary about his paternal family, goes home again to interview his father, who says his life is "Nobody's Business." A fascinating account of what happens when "the irresistible force versus the immovable object."
• Terry Gross's interview with Alan Berliner. After making two documentaries about families, Alan Berliner decided to make a film about his father and their family tree. Did that make his father happy? Absolutely not. But Berliner's father, after seeing the documentary and being applauded, tells a family friend it was "the happiest day of his life." The documentary "Nobody's Business" is available on Amazon video and Netflix Streaming.
• So Many Snapshots, So Few Voices Saved (Verlyn Klinkenborg, NY Times Sunday Opinion page, 12-29-12_). "I remember the regret I felt after my mom died, years ago, that we had no recording of her voice on tape. And yet when my dad died in 2008 — same thing....While capturing sound is now so easy, make sure you record the voices you will want to hear again. The sound alone will say everything someday."
• Where Are the Voices From Our Past? (Gloria Nussbaum, APH blog, 3-27-13)
• Why Are We Hesitant to Record Voices? (Gloria Nussbaum, APH blog, 4-3-13)
• A convert to family history . (BBC News, A Point of View 12-2-11). The discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in 1906 - and changed historian Lisa Jardine's views about the genealogy boom. "What a thrill, then, to encounter the miracle of oral history - of having a person in front of you who was actually there."
• How the Pop-Up Radio Archive Is Saving Culture (UC Berkeley School of Information, 4-2-12). Three School of Information master’s students are working with the Kitchen Sisters, a pair of independent radio producers, to solve a longstanding information-management and archival problem. The Pop-Up Radio Archive, will support long-term online archiving of multimedia materials; a sensible, accessible, standardized system of organization, labeling, and tagging (the metadata system); and optional online publishing to make the resources available to the world.
• Hey, at Least You Can Be Virtually Immortal (J. Peder Zane, NY Times, 3-12-13). 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.
• Home Movie Day (an annual celebration of amateur films and filmmaking)
• "I'm so glad you did this. So glad." (Susan A. Kitchens, Family Oral History, on how a casual recording of a conversation was transformed, by death, "into something of unspeakable value")
• Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C. (with a state-by-state guide). (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2008)
• Audio and video recording equipment, software, and editing tools -- reviews, tutorials, and explanations
• A comparison of print and video legacy memoirs (personal historian Andrea Gross explains their suitability for different purposes)
• Personal History Productions. On the Aging Boomers Radio Show (Sonoma County), listen to personal historians Susan Milstein and Andi Reese Brady tell how they developed a business interviewing people about their lives and presenting what the captured as audio CDs or beautiful bound books
• Radio spots tell stories of forgotten New Mexicans, UFO-spotting (Kathaleen Roberts, Columbus, Indiana Republic 2-8-12). State folklorist Claude Stephenson trimmed 261 oral portraits down to 240 words timed at 1.58 minutes each, snippets of New Mexico history about everyone from Ham the astrochimp to a UFO-spotting Socorro sheriff.
• Seniors record stories to preserve personal history. With notebooks, tape recorders, and video cameras, families are coaxing a lifetime of memories from beloved relatives. (Marilyn Gardner, Christian Science Monitor, 5-27-08)
• Sound Portraits (radio documentaries, predecessor to StoryCorps). No longer active but you can listen to stories from the archives.
• Story Corps audio interviews. 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. Modeled on the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration (under FDR), StoryCorps engages Americans locally in oral history, archiving interviwes at the American Folklife Center (Library of Congress). See its list of focused initiatives, such as the National Teachers Initiative, the StoryCorps Griot (preserving the voices, experiences, and life stories of African Americans), and the Memory Loss Initiative.
• StoryCorps Do-It-Yourself Guide to Interviewing (PDF). Storycorps recording equipment is available for interviews done at home (see Rent a Storykit), but there is a waiting list.
• Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner's excellent piece about StoryCorps whetting the appetite for oral history (a review for Oral History Review, well worth reading)
• Videos capture memories to last beyond a lifetime (Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, 8-23-10, with video of dying Auburn mother spending time with her 4- and 6-year-old)
• When a life story can be part of cancer treatment (Southern Reporter, 4-26-12). Watch the moving video, Helen Morton's digital story about her husband Forbes's life and final weeks, when he died at home, with his family around him.
• Your Home on a Coffee Table (GERALDINE FABRIKANT Geraldine Fabrikant, NY Times, 12-17-14). It’s the ultimate family album: an elegant book of photographs of your home, produced just for your family and friends.... The latest luxury for the fraction of the 1 percent who can afford their own planes, art collections and (multiple) homes is a personal keepsake that provides a lasting impression of those homes — one that requires putting down a serious amount of money."


BECOMING THE FAMILY STORYCATCHER (Liz Massey's excellent series, Listen Closely Productions -- Audio storytelling for radio, podcasting and personal history)
• Step 1: Getting Permission (how to invite your family member to tell his or her story (3-15-14)
• Step 2: Selecting a Format (9-13-14)
• Step 3: Getting the story (doing the interview 11-23-14)
• Step 4: Gathering Stories at a Distance (when your narrator doesn’t live close to you. 1-14-15)
• Step 5a: Getting It Ready – Finding the Storyline (3-29-15)
(I'll add more links as Liz writes new pages -- thanks, Liz!)
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The Art and Craft of Interviewing

• The Art of the Interview (Marc Pachter's excellent Ted Talk, January 2008 . Marc, editor of Telling Lives: The Biographer's Art , offers excellent advice and examples for those doing public interviews, as Marc did brilliantly for the National Portrait Gallery, of which he was director. Marc, who is profiled here , has spent his career curating and creating intimate portraits of the lives of others. Everyone, in their lives, is waiting for someone to ask them questions, so they can be truthful, he says, in explaining the blunt question he asked one famous person. There's also a C-SPAN Q&A here .
• The Art of the Interview, Dale Keiger's presentation at the CASE Editors' Forum (3-30-09)
• Elizabeth Arnold on Interviewing (The Transom Review)
• 5 ways journalists can overcome shyness during interviews (Beth Winegarner, Poynter, 4-23-12)
• High percentage tips for scoring a great interview (Don Ray, field producer for radio and TV interviews and documentaries)
• How journalists decide whether to interview by phone, email or face-to-face , and why they are taking a blended approach (Mallory Jean Tenore, Poynter, 6-22-12)
• Mary Pat Flaherty (Wash Post) on interviewing and writing (Patrick Cassidy's Investigative Reporting webpage)
• Getting to Know You: A How-To Story for Kids on How to Interview Family Members (PDF, The Mini Page, Dec. 25-31, 2010) (c) 2010 Universal Uclick
• Exam-Room Follies (Anne Whetzel, Pulse, 10-31-14) Lovely essay about a medical student learning the art of the patient interview.
• Secrets to a Successful Interview (Valerie Holladay, ancestry.com, 1-1-05)
• So What Do You Do, James Lipton, Creator and Host of Inside the Actor's Studio? (Amanda Ernst's interview for Media Bistro, 4-4-12)
• Artful Journalistic Interviewing (Writers and Editors website)
• About job interviews and probably irrelevant, but maybe not: Top 10 Oddball Interview Questions for 2015 (Glassdoor). See also Glassdoor's 50 Most Common Interview Questions. Some of these may be useful in interviews geared to life stories.

Practical considerations:
• 10 ways to get traumatized sources to share their stories (Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter, 8-17-12)
• How Prepared Are You to Interview Terminally Ill Clients? (Dan Curtis, 6-15-11)
• Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C. (with a state-by-state guide). (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2008)
• Technical guide to doing telephone interviews (Sam Mallery, B&H)
• Audio Recording and Editing Equipment, Software, and Tutorials (Telling Your Story, Pat McNees's personal site)
• How journalists can work well with interpreters during interviews (Laura Shin, Poynter, 11-12-12)
• The interviewee's right to "edit" a transcript or story (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors 12-12-11)

From the website of Pat McNees


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Great interview questions and guides

What to ask in a life-story/​oral history interview

You will see wide variation in the kinds of questions asked. For those of us who want a life story to be a narrative, with a narrative arc of its own, and with lots of smaller stories within that framework, open-ended questions may be more helpful than fact-finding questions (which you can fill in with later). Questions for which there is only one answer, especially "yes" or "no," are not going to encourage the person interviewed to open up. What you want is something that will open the floodgates for storytelling, and, when you become more skilled, that can open targeted floodgates, so what you end up with is more coherent from the start. But if what you get is not well-organized, don't worry. It can be organized later. What you want is to get the stories and information flowing in ways that mean something to the storytellers, and that capture their ways of expressing themselves, their voice, their style, their take on the world. Below these links to questions are links to articles about how to interview successfully.

• Family Health History. You can download two PDF files: (1) "A Guide to Family Health History (which questions to ask, which information to collect, which diseases are hereditary, and so on) and (2) "A Guide to Genetics and Health."
• Brandon Stanton, On how I approach strangers in the street (YouTube video of the photographer and photoblogger for Humans of New York, talking to an Irish audience about how to make strangers relax and allow a photograph and interview. "It's all about the energy you give off" and "escalating levels of intimacy." It's not about the questions you ask, but he does start with broad questions, to find starting points to get into a conversation. (What's your greatest struggle right now? Give one piece of advice.) He's looking for a story nobody else has told him.
• More of Brandon Stanton (on YouTube, this time interviewed on Chase Jarvis Live, about how he got into photography after losing his job, and from there got into interviewing for Humans of New York)
• 50 Questions for Family History Interviews: What to Ask the Relatives by Kimberly Powell, About.com (fact-oriented -- not great for eliciting stories)
• 50 Thanksgiving Story Starters (AARP Bulletin 11-1-11). Questions to ask at the dinner table.
• Question Generator (StoryCorps) and Great Questions
• Guide for Interviewing Family Members (from Virginia Allee, A Family History Questionnaire)
• Getting to Know You: A How-To Story for Kids on How to Interview Family Members (PDF, Pat McNees, The Mini-Page newspaper supplement, 12-25-10)
• How to Ask Questions for Family History (Greg Lawrence and Kim Leatherdale, Lifetime Memories and Stories)
• How to Collect Your Own Family Folklore (sample interview questions, from the Smithsonian)
• If You Build It, Will They Record Their Stories? Eric Winick's story prompts for incident-based storytelling, as reported by Katharine on the Story Prompts thread of A Storied Career, Kathy Hansen's interesting blog on the intersection and synthesis of various forms of applied storytelling.
• Interviewing advice from oral historian Alessandro Portelli (podcast), part of his story about Hearing Harlan County, offers a glimpse into oral history. See also his outstanding book: The Order Has Been Carried Out: History, Memory, and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome.
• Interviewing Family: What Should I Ask? Major Life Events (Susan A. Kitchens, Family Oral History Using Digital Tools)'
• Interviewing Relatives (Ancestor Search)
• Interviewers on Interviewing (Transom.org, a showcase for New Public Radio). Great advice from popular broadcasters about questioning strangers. Some interviewers offer tips and tricks on their craft, excerpted from articles at Transom and elsewhere.
• Interviewing for Research: Guide to One-to-One Interviews by Colin Hyde (East Midlands Oral History Archive, EMOHA)
• Sample interview questions ( T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History)
• The Art of the Oral History Interview, Part 1 (Michael Takiff, Gravitas History. Rule 1: Be prepared. Rule 2: Listen. (don't stick to your list of questions--roll with the punches. Rule 3: Ask open-ended questions. Don’t put words into people’s mouths. (When did you kill you wife?) Rule 4: Don't interrupt.
• Interview Questions for Family Interviews and Interview Techniques to Avoid (Ancestry.com)
• Memory List Question Book by Denis Ledoux, Soleil Lifestory Network)
• Oral history interview questions and topics (JewishGen)
• Question List, Memory Loss Initiative (StoryCorps)
• Questions for Remembering 9/​11 (StoryCorps September 11th Initiative)
• Questions We Should All Ask Mom (Lisa Belkin, Mother Lode, NY Times Adventures in Parenthood blog)
• Re-membering Pets: Documenting the meaning of people’s relationships with these family members by Barbara Baumgartner, in Explorations: An E-Journal of Narrative Practice (includes a list of questions to ask)
• A Script for Video or Audio Interviews with Family Members (RootsWeb, Ancestry.com)
• Good interview questions for the family
• Some Possible Questions (Marjorie Hunt, The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History (PDF, free download, in whole or part)
Interviewing Guide

• Some sure-fire topics for your oral history interview (10 good questions from Delmar Watson)
• 20 Questions to Ask the Important Women in Your Life (Jewish Women's Archive)
• Suggested Questions for Veterans and Questions for Civilians(Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, U.S. Library of Congress)
• Sample oral history interviews with World War II Veterans (History.com). Includes a script of suggested questions.
• Suggested Questions (Life Story Center, University of Southern Maine). Excellent questions listed by categories: Birth and Family of Origin, Cultural Settings and Traditions, Social Factors, Education, Love and Work, Historical Events and Periods, Retirement, Inner Life and Spiritual Awareness, Major Life Themes, Vision of the Future, Closure.
• Top 3 Tips for Conducting Better Interviews (Grace Bello, The Freelance Strategist)
• Types of Beautiful Questions (Beth M. Duckles) Thought-provoking social science type questions.
• The Stories That Bind Us: What Are the Twenty Questions? (Marshall P. Duke, Huff Post, 2-23-15) For backstory, read The Stories That Bind Us (Bruce Feiler, NY Times, 3-15-13)
• The Root of All Things: 20 Questions (Good Housekeeping) To study how families pass on their history to succeeding generations, Emory University psychologists Robyn Fivush and Marshall Duke created a 20-question Do You Know (DYK) scale. Check out the questions to fill in the gaps in your family history. You can also find them in this Huff Post story, What Are the Twenty Questions?
• What questions should you ask in a video biography interview? (Jane Lehmann-Shafron, Video Biography Central)
• Memory Joggers (sample questions from Trena Cleland, First Person Narrative)
• Guernsey Evacuees Oral History . Gillian Mawson's community group of Guernsey evacuees (ages 72 to 90) in Northern England, sharing stories with each other and the community about evacuating during World War II. Read how they do it -- how she gave them confidence with digital equipment and with talking to the public at events and on radio). Help elders bring history to life!
• Artful journalistic interviewing (excellent links, on Writers & Editors, to articles on interviewing as a journalist)
• Genealogy: 150 questions to ask family members about their lives (Barry Ewell, Deseret News, 2-11-14)
• Help with emotional interviews. Chip Scanlan's article for Poynter is aimed at journalists but may be helpful to personal historians, also. See also Lessons Learned: Handling Emotional Interviews, Part 2.
• Loosening Lips: The Art of the Interview (Eric Nalder, Seattle Times). This is for journalists, but some of the principles apply in personal history interviewing.)
• The 36 Questions. (Daniel Jones, Modern Love, NY Times, 1-9-15), drawn from a study by psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that "explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one." Related Times stories: To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This (1-9-15) and The 36 Questions: An Answer to Their Prayers?

Books on interviewing (those geared to journalists can also be helpful for personal history interviewers):
• The Craft of Interviewing by John Joseph Brady
• The Talk Book: The Intimate Science of Communicating in Close Relationships (explains reflective listening and disclosure)
• Creative Interviewing: The Writer's Guide to Gathering Information by Asking Questions by Ken Metzler
• Listen Up! The Art of Interviewing for Personal History (purchase online from author Paula Stahel)
• Digital Storytelling Cookbook (PDF, buy online from Center for Digital Storytelling, CDS). Also available: Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community by Joe Lambert, author also of Seven Stages: Story and the Human Experience.
• Interviews That Work: A Practical Guide for Journalists by Shirley Biagi
• The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft by Lawrence Grobel (memoir of a top interviewer who prepares deeply for long interviews -- don't expect helpful instruction for quickie interviews)

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou
From the website of Pat McNees

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VIDEO and MULTIMEDIA BIOGRAPHIES, TRIBUTES, AND DOCUMENTARIES
The power of voice and moving images

Video life stories are wonderful gifts and bring life to a gathering, whatever it's for. Whether it's a simple slide show set to music or a well-crafted video or DVD with zooms, pans, titles, captions, and other professional touches, these creations are good for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, graduation parties, engagements, wedding parties, anniversaries, memorial services, funerals, or any social gathering or celebration at which shared memories will be valued.
These are not in alphabetical order but mixed up to provide a variety of viewing experiences, with some of my favorites toward the top.

Stories We Tell (available on Netflix), a biographical documentary, in which -- mixing interviews, Super 8 home-movie footage, and convincing reconstructions -- Sarah Polley slowly unveils secrets (she discovered) in her family, and family members' reactions thereto. (Try to see the movie without knowing what the secrets are, beforehand.) Listen to Polley on Fresh Air: A Polley Family Secret, Deftly Pieced Together (WHYY, NPR, 5-15-13). Polley's blog post about the film, and read this Kate Kellaway's story in the Observer (6-22-13)

My Baby You'll Be (Barbara Diamond, Little Things) Filmmaker creates powerful film about his relationship with his mother, using previously ignored voicemail messages

TIP: When you do video captions,or subtitles for close-captioned videos, be sure that they are concise, appear on a contrasting background, and are large enough to be easily legible. Let them linger long enough to be easily read. (Advice from a pro.)

Time Team Special 28 (2006) - Buried by the Blitz (Shoreditch, London) Video of an archaeological dig captures the stories of residents who lived near the area destroyed by the WWII blitz and survived it, to tell their tales)
---Time Team Special 52 (2012) - Rediscovering Ancient Britain
---More Time Team specials (Wikipedia links)

Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, sorting through family hurt and history
(Hank Stuever, WaPo, 4-7-16) A review of the HBO documentary "Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper."

Op-Docs (short, opinionated documentaries, produced by independent filmmakers and artists with wide creative latitude, covering current affairs, contemporary life and historical subjects). Submissions are welcome. Samples: Love and Stuff (waiting too long to hear her late mother's stories about her stuff) and Notes on Blindness. (After the writer and theologian John Hull became completely blind in 1983, he kept an audio diary of his experience. This film is a dramatization using those recordings.)

• Martin Elkort: An American Movie (Stefani Twyford's documentary about her father's life and photography--52 minutes). Stefani's brief and moving account of making the documentary: Creating My Father’s Legacy: Martin Elkort’s Photography (feminine.collective, 3-7-16). And when that has whet your appetite you can buy Martin Elkort's book of photographs: Children: Behind the Lens: Street Photography Capturing the Essence of Childhood.

How to Preserve Your Family Legacy (Wall Street Journal video, 8-14-15) Iris Wagner talks about the process of creating a video personal history, saying it may take from a few months to a couple of years (including pre-production work in life review and ethical wills -- and THEN they bring in a crew) and that the video may be directed both to one's parents and to one's heirs.
Lost and Found (YouTube), a digital story by Susan Becker, made as a project for the Center for Digital Story Telling

Michael Apted, Aging With The '7 Up' Crew (Fresh Air, 2-5-13) Every seven years since 1964, in what's known as the Up series, Granada Television has caught us up on the lives of 14 everyday people. The subjects of the documentary series were 7 years old when it began; in the latest installment, 56 Up, they are well into middle age. The original idea behind the series was to examine the realities of the British class system at a time when the culture was experiencing extraordinary upheaval. Available from third-party sellers on Amazon: Several discs: Seven, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up, 56 Up, and you can rent from Netflix.

Shirley and Moe (Brandon Stanton's video, for Humans of New York, of a 100-year-old woman remembering her deceased husband). Video by Ben Poster, Maia Stern, and Stephanie Szerlip
Video memorial tribute to Suzie, a dog (Our Living Tree). Using photos, audio, and background music, the Breakstones created a slideshow with sound that really tugs at the heart.

Better Said Than Done blog (family storytelling videos). The Better Said Than Done storytellers shared true personal stories about their families in the live storytelling show “Mother, Daughter, Father, Son: Stories about family.” Watch or listen to some of them, such as Dustin Fisher on Daddy Issues.

Our American Family. Documenting our American family heritage, one family at a time, and inspiring viewers to capture their own family stories - before those voices are gone. Seeking families to add to the tapestry.

Dad's Message Recorded At War, A Gift Given Decades Later (NPR, 1-4-14). See also At 71, finally hearing her father's voice (Susan Reimer, Baltimore Sun, 12-27-13) and listen to the hour-long original show.

Humans of New York (a photoblog and book featuring street portraits and interviews collected in New York City. Started in November 2010 by photographer Brandon Stanton)

Ethical Will in the Workshop (Rebecca Robinson shows how to combine parts of an interview with B-roll--action shots, with voice in background)

Jim Walsh's tribute to his father (where the poetry is in the narration)

Lost in the Fifties--Another Time, Another Place (great slide-show to music about the 1950s, good and bad--this ought to bring up memories for those who were young then)
Remembering Renee Savigny (Peter Savigny, HeirloomBio, and you can see more of Peter's lovely video samples here)

Children Full of Life (watch free on Top Documentary Films). In this award-winning documentary, children in a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their homeroom teacher, Toshiro Kanamori. He instructs each to write their true inner feelings (happiness, irritation, gratitude, etc.) in a "notebook letter" ("whatever is real, because the other children will pick up what isn't") and read it aloud in front of the class. By sharing their lives, the children begin to realize the importance of caring for each other. Great idea, and a chance to see a teaching genius in action. Watch this moving sample part 1 of 5, here. And then part 2, part 3, part 4 , and part 5. Wonderful video.

Grandparents send awesome and awkward wedding toast (this video gets franker and funnier toward the end, on Awkward Family Photos)

Point of Pride: The People's View of Bayview/​Hunter's Point (documentary about a neighborhood in San Francisco). On the same topic, eleven-part series by journalism students, chronicling the legacy of pollution left by industry.

Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies (Center for Asian American Media sponsor, posted on Internet Archive)

Rosalie Wahl: A Vision for a Better World (2008, winner of Minnesota Historical Society Greatest Generation Film Project) . Traces the life of Rosalie Wahl from her humble beginnings in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Kansas to her groundbreaking appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court and explores the evolution of her social consciousness.

One Second Every Day (Cesar Kuriyama's TED talk on selecting one second of video from every day of his life, and editing them together into a montage that records his life, helps him remember the days, and motivates him to live interesting days.

Steve Pender's grandmother, whose personality video captures in ways print could not do (Family Legacy Video). Not that you can't do both video and a book! Watch these TV interviews (on KGUN9’s “The Morning Blend") in which Steve shows samples (hear one car dealer talking about the year sales on Edsels stopped cold) and talks about the benefits to families of capturing family stories on video.

Steve Trainor's video samples (Remember Your Life)

Maurice Sendak on Life and Death (view on wimp.com), a selection from an HBO documentary, Tell Them Anything You Want (with interviewer Lance Bangs--a long wait on Netflix, but you can buy the DVD. This is a perfect model of a great personal history video. See how the picture of his friend and caregiver is shown when he is talking about her--beautifully done,and illustrations from his works become the piece of his life that they were.

Arnon Goldfinger Discovers Family, History, and the Power of Denial in "The Flat" (Kristin McCracken, Editor, TribecaFilm.com, HuffPost, 10-22-12). In this gem of a documentary, an Israeli filmmaker gently dismantles the past, revealing a hidden link to layers and layers of heretofore unknown family history. Scroll down to watch the trailer.

The Father Michael Lapsley Story (inspiring YouTube video doc about the Anglican priest and social justice activist in Capetown, South Africa, who discovered the power of story to heal emotional wounds. He wrote about this in Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer

A teenager's account from World War II (Debbie Brodsky, DMB Pictures). See also Surviving Segregation in Birmingham, Alabama and How He Got the Girl

A Conversation with My 12-Year-Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition (Jeremiah McDonald's clever conversation with a 20-year-old tape of himself, much watched on YouTube)

My Grandma's Tattoo (Miranda Harple and Anne Polsky, AARP Bulletin 11-8-11)
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View from the Inside (a few video samples from Sandra Martin Productions)

Sixth-graders produce civil rights documentary (Rachel Lippman, St. Louis Public Radio, 2-23-11). See also (about same project) Black history documentary reflects mission of City Academy

Fracaswell "Cas" Hyman's pilot video. A beautiful explanation of why to capture "now" for later.

Dying San Jose woman leaving a video legacy for her three young children (Linda Goldston, San Jose MercuryNews, 4-4-11).
See samples of LifeChronicles videos here.

Danny & Annie (Vimeo). Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, went to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance.

The Interview Project (film producer David Lynch's project--a new video interview every few days).

Susan's Garden: A Video Love Letter (on YouTube) and a story about its making: Client makes 'perfect gift' for SCORE advisor (Jan Norman, Orange County Register, 11-21-09)

102-year-old dancer sees herself on film for the first time (YouTube, 4-20-15) Alice Barker was a chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance of the the 1930s and 40s. She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, and Zanzibar Club, with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. 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.

I Will Survive: 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. Here's a BBC interview with Korman and Kohn about reactions to the video.

Human Happiness Brian Fawcett on how he learned who his parents really were


The Life and Lessons of George M. Leader (video from David Adelman's firm, Reel Tributes). I like their firm promo:Reel Tributes: The Document of a Lifetime (David Adelman)

Samples of video biography and video memoir (Jane Lehmann-Shafron and Peter Shafron, Your Story Here)

The Smooch Project (about the power of reconciliation)


Digital Storytelling. Using computer technology to tell the stories of your life.
• Center for Digital Storytelling, which publishes a Digital Storytelling Cookbook to get you started (scroll to bottom of page and you can download a 40-page PDF sample from the book). Many excellent resources on this site.
• Digital Storytelling: A Tutorial in 10 Easy Steps (J.D. Lasica, TechSoup, The Technology Place for Nonprofits, 2006)
• The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
• A Guide to Digital Storytelling (BBC)


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SOURCES FOR MUSIC, IMAGES, VIDEO CLIPS AND RELATED MATERIALS,
INCLUDING PRESERVATION RESOURCES

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.

The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978, by Sarah Greenough, Diane Waggoner, Sarah Kennel, and Matthew S. Witkovsky

Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), as described in Digital Organizers: The Next New Service Industry (The Atlantic, 4-14-11)

Billboard's #1 song on any given date in history, from 19th century on (Josh Hosler's site)

British Pathé Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, this archive of 85,000 historical films is now available on YouTube. It includes footage – not only from Britain, but from around the globe – of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, sport and culture. Pparticularly strong in its coverage of the First and Second World Wars."


Clearing rights and finding rightsholders (Copyright and rights page, Writers and Editors website)
• Clearing rights in the visual arts
• Clearing rights for music and sound (through ASCAP,BMI, SASAC, Harry Fox, etc.)
• Clearing rights for books, scripts, screenplays, etc.
• Permissions and releases
• Frequently asked questions about music rights (Public Domain Information Project, PD Info)


Converting old LPs and tapes to digital: Bias SoundSaver (easily convert and restore your old LPs and tapes to digital--on a Mac) is similar to Roxio Spin Doctor (If your computer can “hear” it, you can record it with CD Spin Doctor).

Critical Past (searchable archive of historical footage: 57,000 videos and 7 million images--searchable for free, with what seem reasonable prices and easy sourcing of footage and photos useful for producing documentaries)

Finding background music for video biographies, podcasts, presentations, blogs, etc.
Creating a video biography for your family or a client? You may commission a score or you may want to use "buy-out" music: royalty-free music that you pay for up front, for use in a commercial video production, film score, podcast, and so on. (An example of not-royalty-free music: Frank Sinatra singing "My Way.")
The only "COPYRIGHT-free" music you're likely find is is music that is in the public domain, which generally means music that is very old. There is plenty of ROYALTY-free music (meaning you don't pay a royalty for every copy sold or played or performed etc.). But that's not generally free, in the sense of no payment: generally you will pay an amount up front. Read Why use royalty-free music? (an iStockphoto article).

Here are sites some personal historians in video use (with thanks to members of the Association of Personal Historians for the recommendations):
• How to Find Free Music for Vides (Jason McCoy). Jason explains the difference between public domain, royalty free, and Creative Commons music and types of Creative Commons licenses; understanding whether your work is commercial or noncommercial; how to give proper attribution for music; and lists 31 amazing sites with free Creative Commons music. Excellent, helpful site.
• Custom Songs by Erik (Erik Balkey, and here's his song Crazy in Love)
• Davenport Music Library (buy a CD containing royalty-free music for audio and video production and to play for telephones on hold)
• DeWolfe Music
• Freeplay Music
• Fresh Music
• Incompetech (owner/​composer/​musician Kevin MacLeod offers a wide selection of his own work)
• Internet Archives Live Music Archives
• Live Music Archive (Internet Archive's archive of live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format--strictly noncommercial, both for access and for further distribution)
• Music Bakery
• Music 2 Hues
• National Jukebox (historical recordings from the Library of Congress)
• Omnimusic: Production Music Library (top production music library for film, television, and multimedia content)
• PBTM Library, instanddownloadmusic.com (royalty-free pro background music)
• PD Info (list of public domain songs, buyout production music, public domain sheet music, from Haven Sound at www.pdinfo.com
• Perfect Choice Music Library (composer Andy Mitran's online music library caters to video producers; you can license his original compositions for a one-time fee)
• Premium Beat
• Powerful Presentation Music (for training presentations, Bob Pike Group)
• Royalty Free Music Library
• Rumblefish Music Licensing Store
• Shockwave-Sound.com (a library of online royalty-free music, stock music, and downloadable sound effects)
• 615 Music
• SmartSound , easy-to-use royalty-free music, stock music, customize to any length
• Sound Ideas
• Sound Snap
• StockMusic.com (royalty-free music, sound effects, and production elements)
• 2B Royalty Free
• Vimeo Music Store
• Zoom License (music licensing for videography & digital imaging--for montages, professional wedding and event videography, etc.)
• 26 Places to Find Free Multimedia for Your Blog includes:
• Opsound
• Soundtransit
• pdsounds.org
• Internet archive community audio (formerly open source audio)

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Finding vintage music from a particular year or place
The Web is wonderful for tracking down music from a certain place or period, and often you can listen to the music. Here are some good sites and CDs for finding vintage music (play it as background music as you write your memoirs or scan old photos for that photohistory). Remember: Just because it's on the Web doesn't mean it's out of copyright. You must verify that you have the right to reproduce sounds or images you find on the Web. Songs that are on CDs (particularly from more recent periods, such as World Wars I and II) are likely to need permissions clearance. See
Clearing Rights and Finding Rights Holders (Writers and Editors site)
• Billboard’s #1 Song on Any Given Date in History (Josh Hosler’s site)
• Dismuke's popular songs from the 1920s and 1930s (audio files)
• Fifties Web (material from 1950s and 1960s)
• Free Play Music
• Folk Music of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Australia
• G.I. Jukebox: Songs from World WWII (various artists)
• The Great War: An American Musical Fantasy (Archeophone, songs from World War I, 2 CDs--read the reviews)
• Great American Songbook (listen online to G.A.S. Station, maintained by the The Society for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook
• Music for funerals, wakes, and memorial services
• National Jukebox (Historical Recordings from the Library of Congress)
• Old Forty-Fives.com ((music and other nostalgic items from the 1950s and 1960s, good for bringing back old memories--but NOT public domain; you must clear rights)
• Perfessor Bill Edwards (Ragtime and other old-time piano music, 1910-1919)
• Popular hymns
• Popular Song Recordings from the Victrola (1913-1919), Besmark
• Popular Songs in American History
• Rags to Riches: The Essential Hits of Scott Joplin (Compendia CD)
• Real Ragtime: Disc Recordings From Its Heyday (Archeophone, CD
• Songs That Got Us Through WWII (Rhino CD, various artists)
• The Year in Music (Wikipedia’s Timeline of Musical Events—Google a year date and “in music”)
• Upchucky Jukebox, popular radio and junkbox songs from 1940s through 1990s
• Take Me Back to the Sixties (Moreoldfortyfives.com, search engine links)
• Top 10 Archive (play online free -- monthly hits, 1950-1989, 45rpm recordings)
• We Didn't Start the Fire (Ye Li's clever illustration of Billy Joel's song, a fast romp through 50 years of U.S. history)

Finding Sound Effects
• Free Sound Effects (article on Videomaker, which has links to resources also)
• FreeSound (a sound-effect site described in the Videomaker article as the "granddaddy of free sound effects site")
• Sound-Effects-Library.com ("the world's largest auditionable sound effects, music samples, & music tracks library")
(more to come -- this is not my specialty area so I rely on recommendations from colleagues)


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Finding photographs and other images:
Remember: Finding a image on the Internet does not mean it's copyright-free. 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. Remember, "royalty-free" does not mean "free." See in particular Clearing rights in the visual arts. Meanwhile, here are some good sources of photos (with links to stories about sources of photos at end of list):

• Abstract Influence (registration required to enter; community-oriented site with free forums)
• American Heritage Guide to Sight and Sound (Best of the Web links)
• American Memory (a Library of Congress project, with many public domain images). See, for example, 15 collections of motion pictures (including old Coke commercials and films of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake).
• American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs by Priscilla Harris Dalrymple (Dover Fashion and Costumes, the clothing of ordinary men, women, and children from the 1840s through the 1890s)
• Animation and Cartoons
• AP Images(for professional image buyers)
• Artbeats (stock footage)
• Art Archive (www.picture-desk.com) (a fine art and historical picture library with material from over 900 sources worldwide, from 3000 BC to 20th century--and helpful staff who will respond to emails and phone calls)
• Art Resources (fine art images from museums around the world, and if their search engine doesn’t find what you want, talk to their real person)
• Barewalls (posters and prints from famous photographers and artists)
• BBD Motion Gallery
• BBC's Your Painting ("Uncovering the nation's art collection"--photographs of all of the UK's publicly owned art, including railway posters and over 210,000 oil paintings, the stories behind the paintings, and where to see them for real--inviting the public to tag the photos)
• CanStockPhoto (stock photos)
• CanStockPhoto: Medical stock photos and images
• CardCow (vintage postcards)
• Cartoons, comics, anime, manga, panel stories, graphic novels, and animation (Writers and Editors links)
• Cepolina (international site)
• Clipart.com (clip-art, photos, illustrations, fonts, sounds)
• Compfight (a public photo sharing service)
• Corbis (a major photo site, for professional productions)
• Creative Commons search (aggregates several CC searches)
• Creative Market (a paid service, with graphics, fonts, themes, photos and more, from independent creators)
• Critical Past (vintage stock footage and stock photo images from 1940s). See FAQs page: How to Buy Video Clips and Still Photos
• Digital Public Library of America (a consortium that offers one-stop access to digitized holdings from more than 1,300 institutions). Check out its interesting exhibitions (by theme), such as "Children in Progressive-Era America" and "Prisoners at Home (Everyday Life in Japanese Internment Camps)"
• Dreamstime (royalty-free images)
• Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan L. Severa
• Fashionable Folks Hairstyles 1840-1900
• Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats, 1840-1900
• Flickr Commons (help describe Library of Congress photos by adding comments, tags)
• Flickr Creative Commons search
• Flickr: The Library of Congress photostream (Flickr makes available 3,000 photos from two of the Library of Congress's most popular collections). At Flickr Commons you can help ID what's in photos by adding comments, tags)
• Foodie's Feed (free images of food in high-res)
• Footage.net culls stock photage from other sources, including lots of newscasts and historical footage.
• Fotolia (large supply of stock photos). Fotolia's FAQ may answer some of your questions
• Fotosearch (stock photography and footage, large selection)
• Free and commercial stock photography sites (Jourdan Wilkerson very helpfully describes and compares many sites, indicating price range or if free)
• Free clip art for your blog (Wordplay!)
• FreeFoto.com (free, but you must include an attribution and loink back to FreeFoto.com)
• FreeDigitalPhotos (easy search, well-organized)
• Free Historical Stock Photos
• FreeImages (previously, Stock.XCHNG; now owned by Getty Images) free stock images, but with stricter requirements now, so check each image for rights.
• Free Range
• FreeStockPhotos.com (check out excellent links to free photo sites along right side)
• Flickr (search for Library of Congress public domain images or search for Creative Commons images)
• Gallery of Graphic Design (check out the categories!)
• Fotosearch (stock photos and stock footage)
• Getty Images (premium stock footage from archival film to contemporary HD video, including daily entertainment video; royalty-free stock footage as well as better selections, by subscription)
• GoGraph (royalty-free stock photos and web graphics)
• Google advanced search
• Image After (images and textures)
• Image Base (images free, under Creative Commons License)
• Internet Archive Book Images (Fickr)
• iStockphoto (royalty-free stock photos, video, relatively inexpensive)
• Kave Wall (professional-quality closeups and macro-photography --images in categories such as fire, food, holiday, money (household), toys, tattoos)
• Kobal Collection (www.picture-desk.com) (leading film photo archive with over a million images, from earliest days of the cinema to latest releases)
• Larry Edmunds bookshop (movie books, movie posters, lobby cards, photographs and scripts in Hollywood California)
• Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (huge, wonderful collection of historical prints and photographs; some images downloadable immediately, others for a small fee)
• Library of Congress webcasts
• Los Angeles County Museum makes 20,000 artistic images available for free download (Open Culture, the best free cultural & educational media on the web)
• Life Magazine Photo Archive (hosted by Google--no information about clearing permissions for use in various media)
• Los Angeles County Museum of Art
• Maps and mapmakers (Writers and Editors)
• Maps.com (royalty-free maps)
• Map Resources (royalty-free vector maps)
• Medical and scientific images and illustrations (Writers and Editors)
• Molly Maps (custom hand-drawn maps and views)
• MorgueFile (public image archives for creatives by creatives)
• Moving Image Archives (cousin of Internet Archives)
• Moving Pictures Archives (and while you're there, check out other Internet Archives)
• National Archives (including wonderful wartime photos)
• New Old Stock (vintage photos from public archives, free of KNOWN copyright restrictions)
• New York City Municipal Archives (over 870,000 images). Gothamist reports nearly 1 million old NYC images released
• New York Public Library Digital Gallery (672,153 images digitized from the library collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, etc.--yours for a small fee)
• New York Public Library Public Domain Collections, yours to use for free. Creative librarians have put together some creative remixes, such as Navigating the Green Book (a travel guide published between 1936 and 1966 that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, gas stations, etc. where black travelers would be welcome) and Fifth Avenue, Then and Now.
• New York Public Library Invites a Deep Digital Dive (Jennifer Schuessler, NY Times, 1-6-16)
• Old Magazine Articles
• Open Photo (images grouped by category-- images, vectors, and video )
• Open Video Project (shared digital video collection)
• pacaSearch (mega meta-search engine to locate licensable content from the index of over 132 million images licensable through the Digital Media Licensing Association)
• Photogrammar , a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI). Click on the interactive map to find photos from a particular area in the United States.
• PhotoRogue (request a photo of anything you want and volunteers may go out and take photo for you, for free -- no guarantees!)
• Photos of the Great Depression and New Deal (FDR Library and Museum)
• Photos from the Great Depression (roughly 1600 color photos taken during 1939-1944 in U.S., P.R., and Virgin Islands, focusing mostly on rural areas, farm labor, and aspects of World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working)
• Picture-Desk.com (Kobal Collection, for movies, TV, entertainment, and The Art Archive, good fine art site, with helpful people)
• Pexels (free stock photos, searchable collection)
• Pixelgalerie
• Pixel Perfect Digital
• Pond 5 (big royalty-free footage collection)
• Postcards, online archives:
---Curt Teich Postcard Archives)
---Postcard and Greeting Card Museum (Emotions Greeting Cards)
• Prelinger Archives (over 2,000 films, of which How to Use the Dial Phone (1947) is only one example!
• Prints and Photographs Reading Room (Library of Congress)
• Project Gutenberg (public domain ebooks--search the illustrated books)
• Public Domain Archive
• Public domain images
• Rattlesnake Jack's Old West Clip Art Parlor; here's the table of contents
• Remembering the Fifties (links to 50s sites)
• Rijks Studio (an innovative digital application that makes a large part of a collection of 150,000 masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, in the Netherlands, available to all, free of charge)
• Shorpy (great historical images)
• Shutterstock (royalty-free stock photos, videos, subscription model)
• StockSnap.io (free high-resolution stock photos)
• StockUp (free stock photos and search engine)
• Stockvault (searchable)
• Timelines and timeline tools, designs
• TinEye (reverse image search engine)
• 25 Places to Find Awesome Stock Photos -- Free and Cheap! (TutorialBlog)
• Universal newsreels (from before television)
• Unprofound (images grouped by color)
• U.S. Government Photos and Images (mostly public domain, but as always, read the fine print)
• Veer.com (stock art and interesting fonts, reasonable prices)
• VideoBlocks.com (subscription-based resource for downloading royalty-free stock footage, motion backgrounds, production music, sound effects, etc. Create an account to get unlimited downloads to everything on the site.)
• VideoHive (stock footage)
• Vintage Music Album Covers
• Visual Connections (formerly Picturehouse; directory of suppliers of stock photography, illustrations and footage, photographers, and font foundries
• Visual resources online (American Library Association, links to great sites, historical societies, etc.)
• Washington Area Spark (2000 historic photos of DC activism now online)
• Wazee Digital (formerly T3Media, strictly video)
• Woofie pictures and images
• Wikipedia Commons public domain images
• Wikimedia Commons (almost 25 million freely usable media files, but read Reuse guide for licensing requirements)
• William Williams collection of immigrants to United States (part of the New York Public Library Digital Collections)
• WorldofMaps.net
• Yale Digital Commons, explained in this press release: Digital Images of Yale’s Vast Cultural Collections Now Available for Free (with slideshow). Yale has adopted an open access policy--which means you are free to view the images but you need permission to reproduce them.
• Zen Textures (stock textures)
• The absolute best free stock photos (all in one place) (Daily Tekk, 1-6-16). (Stock Up; Pexels; and StockSnap):
• 22 Awesome Websites with Stunning Free Stock Images (Tucker Schreiber, Shopify, 3-1-15)
• Where to Find Free Images Online (Stacey Roberts, ProBlogger, 3-20-15)
• 20 places to get free stock photos (Giancarlo Massaro, Ragan.com, 4-8-16) Images that fall under the Creative Commons Zero license or similar terms, which "means you can copy, modify and use any photo you find, even for commercial purposes, without having to ask permission or provide attribution"), But read the terms of engagement on each site.

GOOD FOR RESEARCH
• ArtCyclopedia
• Artnet.


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Scanning photos, documents, and other images


• Scanning Basics 101. Wayne Fulton's useful site)includes useful pages such as Scanning and Printing Resolution Calculator. Read up a little on how to do it (or hire someone who knows what they're doing and has time to do it (and can do it for a fee that fits your budget)
• 12 Great Tips to Scan Your Family Pictures
• DPI and PPI Explained (Andrew Dacey, photographer)
• Storybook Perfect Scanning (Joan Hitchens, Navigating Grief site, good general instructions on scanning for beginners)
• Everything you wanted to know about file size and formats (Proshooter.com). Read the section on File Formats--Compression, to learn how in compressing a file you somewhat damage it, which is why professional photographers prefer TIFF files to JPEG files (which are more compressed, and lose some of the image quality in the process).
• Scanner Resolution: Image quality is more than a number (Epson, PDF). It sez here:

For printing purposes, to reproduce a photo in 1:1 scale, a resolution of 300-360 dpi/​ppi is enough resolution. This 300-360 dpi/​ppi range is also good to know for enlargements because it can help determine the resolution needed to get enough pixels from the scan. If your image does not have enough pixels at the printing size you are trying to enlarge it to, the image will be blocky and pixilated instead of smooth.

You can use this simple formula for determining enlargement pixels needed:
Short side of output size ÷ Short side of original image x 300 (or 360) dpi/​ppi

Thus, to get an 8” x 10” print from a 4” x 6” original, you would need to scan at 600 or 720 dpi/​ppi.
8 ÷ 4 = 2, 2 x 300 (or 2 x 360) = 600 or 720 dpi/​ppi

The formula also works for very small items, like 35mm slides. Given that the average 35mm image area is 0.94” x 1.42”, to make a 16” x 20” print your formula would read:
16 ÷ 0.94 = 17.02, 17 x 300 (or 17 x 360) = 5,100 or 6,120 dpi/​ppi

Here are two sets of links to give you a fuller understanding of scanning--including specific problems or situations:
• Scanning, repairing, and organizing photos
• Guides to scanning, digitizing, and editing for video and multimedia

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Organizing and preserving photos, making personal photohistories


• Every picture tells your story: How to organize photos (Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 1-31-16) "Google Vice President Vint Cerf warned last year that a generation's worth of data, historical documents and photos could be lost in a pending digital dark age because of "bit rot," which happens as old programs used to view the digital documents become obsolete — think floppy discs, eight-track tapes, VHS tapes, photo negatives and slides, and even DVD formats. "When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by e-mail, people's tweets, and all of the World Wide Web, it's clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history," said Cerf at a conference.
"The classics survived the Dark Ages because of the monasteries and monks and because there was replication," he said. "They weren’t in just one place. So when that abbey burned down, it wasn’t gone. I think it’s a good idea for the ordinary person to sort of look carefully at what their long-term arrangements are for their pictures, and have a couple different ones." And save the stories and names that go with the photos!

From Digital Audio Recording to Audio CD: Part 1 - Audio into Audacity (Susan Kitchens, Family Oral History Using Digital Tools)
From Digital Audio Recording to Audio CD: Part 2 - Basic Audio Edits (also Susan Kitchens)

Going Digital with Home Movies (Ilana DeBare, SF Gate, 8-20-06 The Business of Memory: Companies take different approaches when going digital with home movies,

Imperial War Museum (IWM, Great Britain -- Collections of photos, sound, and film-- stretching from the everyday to the exceptional, on all aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century conflict)

Internet Archive (a nonprofit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 368 billion archived web pages). Featured in this story: Never trust a corporation to do a library's job.
Check out
• Wayback Machine (web pages captured at various moments in the past)
• Moving Images Archive
• Audio (books and poetry)
• Old feature films (in order of popularity)

• Library of Congress resources (digital collections, prints and photographs, historic newspapers, performing arts, veterans history, sound recordings, film, maps, manuscripts, and more)
• Public Domain Music and Lyrics (PD Info. searchable and alphabetical info)
• Memory Miner (vimeo, John Fox explains on video his software for annotating photos and linking photos of various people by people, place, and time, to provide a multigenerational look at our private and shared culture).
• MemoryMiner software
• Molly Maps (custom hand-drawn maps and views)
• Most popular U.S. song on any given date since 1890s (Josh Hosler's site)
• Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC)
• News & Public Affairs Archives An analysis of news and public affairs independent from traditional corporate media is available from this diverse video library.
• National Recording Preservation Board (Library of Congress). Wide variety of treasures. Check out, for example, recording essays.
• The Great Depression and America's 20th Century Economy (How to Trade Stocks)

• PhotoBook Press (for heirloom-quality photobooks, made with archival paper and Smyth-sewn-signature bindings, which, unlike glued bindings from most POD presses, won't fall apart)
• The Photo Detective, blog of Maureen Taylor, who solves historical photo mysteries based on visual clues. "Nation's foremost historical photo detective."~Wall Street Journal. You can purchase audio mp3s of her free Ask Maureen teleseminars (and preview the questions asked and answered first).

The Photo Detective, blog of Maureen Taylor, who solves historical photo mysteries based on visual clues. "Nation's foremost historical photo detective."~Wall Street Journal. You can purchase audio mp3s of her free Ask Maureen teleseminars (and preview the questions asked and answered first).


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Preserving Your Family and National Treasures
Archiving, Conservation, and Preservation


Archiving and preservation resources
Books about preservation
Adding metadata to photos
Suppliers of archival materials


Digital technology is great for sharing, but not for preservation. For one thing, technologies keep changing, so the content stored has to be "migrated" to new technologies. (Think VCR, CD, DVD, cloud.) Whatever you do, save the original document or photo in its paper form. "Digital documents last forever - or five years, whichever comes first." ~~Jeff Rothenberg

Archiving resources


• Tips on Archiving Family History, Part 1: Audio (Bertram Lyons , NY Times, 5-29-13). First in a series. This one covers Converting Analog to Digital, Fragile Home Records, Converting Cassettes and LPs to Digital, Do Music CDs Last Forever? Part 2: Film and Photos : Those old 8mm (and 16mm and 35mm) films, Finding trustworthy vendors to preserve or digitize old film; Strategy for digital photo library' Preserving slides and photos; How to preserve old uncut, rolled-up negatives of photos from WW II; Photo albums vs photobooks (preserve the original images as well as the scans), Old Mac, TIFFS, JPEGS, cellphones; Extracting image files from old cellphones and dead disc drives. Good lists of specialist organizations.
• Never trust a corporation to do a librarian's job As Google abandons its past, Internet archivists step in to save our collective memory. (An antidote to the following piece.)
• Preserving original documents (Taylor Whitney, Preserving the Past, on Writers and Editors website)
• Google boss warns of 'forgotten century' with email and photos at risk (Ian Sample, The Guardian, 2-13-15) Digital material including key historical documents could be lost forever because programs to view them will become defunct, says Vint Cerf.
• Archives, Center for Home Movies. See also information on film preservation and various tips on transfering film, caring for originals, find a film transfer facility.
• Unhappy Medium: The Challenges With Archiving Digital Video (Vicky Gan, Washingtonian, 9-10-14) As Hollywood goes digital, the Library of Congress and other local repositories are scrambling to find byte-based alternatives.
• The Digital Dilemma: Strategic Issues in Archiving and Accessing Digital Motion Picture Materials (Oscars.org)

• American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (202-452-9545). Blog: Conservators-Converse, plus many other resources. Use them to find a conservator to help repair or restore old letters, etc.
• The Archival Advisor (guide for photo collectors, genealogists, scrapbookers, from RIT's Image Permanence Institute) and Archival Advisor newsletter archives (Image Permanence Institute)
• Archival Internet Resources (Ready, 'Net, Go! an archival "meta index," or index of archival indexes)
• Articles about image archiving (Wilhelm Imaging Research)
• Association for Recorded ound (ARSC)
• Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) (members range from those who work solely with moving images to organizations where moving images are only a small part of their collection to individuals who want to protect their personal collection).
---list of active vendors
---Conservation Online's clearinghouse of information about motion picture film preservation
---Home Film Preservation Guide (AMIA, Film Forever)
---National Film Preservation Foundation and National Film Preservation Board (support film preservation and research)
---Motion picture film labs (list posted by AMIA Film Advocacy Task Force)
• Home Movie Day (lists film transfer services for home movies)
• Preserving Family History (listen online to experts Bert Lyons, Bergis Jules, and George Blood, on Kojo Nnamdi Tech Tueday radio program, NPR, rebroadcast 12-24-13). Photo albums, home movies, handwritten letters, an unused old computer with important family documents still stored on it: as precious as these items may be, they'll last only as long as the paper, videotape or hard drive they're on. To make matters worse, they're often stored in attics and basements -- the worst possible environments for preservation. We explore high and low tech ways to protect and store family memorabilia, and the smartest way to migrate different materials to digital formats.
• Find a Conservator (American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, lists professional conservators who do independent work, listed by specialty and geographic area)
• Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), as described in Digital Organizers: The Next New Service Industry (The Atlantic, 4-14-11)
• Bit by Electronic Bit, a Cantor’s Voice Is Restored. Joseph Berger (NYTimes 7-20-10) on how a 52-year-old non-techie Hasidic Jew who runs a record shop in Brooklyn, with advice from some experts, used advanced audio restoration programs on a regular computer to get rid of the crackles and hisses in old recordings of a "Jewish Caruso," a "Cantor for the Ages."
• Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs: A Guide for Librarians and Archivists by Fred R. Byers (PDF, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Council on Library and Information Resources, 2003)
• Caring for Family Treasures: A Basic How-To from Storage to Donation (PDF, Anne A. Salter, technical leaflet, American Association for State and Local History)
• Caring for Your Family Archives with answers to common questions from preservation and archives professionals -- on such topics as preserving family papers, mounting things safely in albums, attaching photos to album pages, removing photos from old albums, captioning photos, framing and displaying photos, converting home movies to video tape (good for viewing but not for preservation), getting documents repaired, digitizing photo collections.
• Caring for Your Treasures (tips from the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (by category, such as photos, home videotape, documents and works of art on paper, metal objects)
• Conservation services, and how to select a conservator (American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, or AIC)
• Conservation OnLine Resources for Conservation Professionals (COoL) "a full text library of conservation information . . . [concerning] library, archives and museum materials."
• A Consumer Guide to Materials for Preservation Framing and the Display of Photographic Images (Image Permanence Institute)
• Digital Preservation (Library of Congress)
• Digital Preservation Tutorials (Digital Preservation Education for NC State Government Employees) -- for example, Saving your Facebook data (and photos) and File-naming tutorial
• Family Archives (tips for preserving family treasures--click through to more specific topics)
• Family Treasures and Resources (Library of Congress Preservation Directorate)
• Graphics Atlas (Image Permanence Institute's new online resource brings sophisticated print identification and exploration tools to archivists, curators, historians, collectors, conservators, educators, and the general public). Learn about the distinguishing characteristics of various print processes.
• Graphics Atlas Tutorials (Image Permanence Institute tutorials on process groups, imaging techniques, identification)
• A Guide to Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository (Society of American Archivists, part of its free online services.
• Home Film Preservation Guide (Film Forever, Association of Moving Image Archivists, AMIA)
• How to care for your heirlooms(Canadian Conservation Institute)
• Image Permanence Institute papers, articles, reports plus special pages such as the Dew Point Calculator (and risk of mold)
• Inside the Smithsonian’s Book Conservation Lab (Donna Peterson, Washington Post blog, 11-5-12)
• Conservators Converse (blog of the American Institute for Conservation)
• Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC) online (Volume 16, 1977 - Volume 44, 2005), hosted by COOL
• Kodak Introduces Cost-Effective Asset Protection Film (Sue Smith, Cinematography.com, 8-23-12). "The new KODAK Color Asset Protection Film 2332 is optimized for content owners who originate or finish their productions on digital formats and want to protect their valuable media for the future. The stock offers over a century of dye stability when stored in recommended environments..."
• Kodak addresses digital problem with film solution (Annlee Ellingson, L.A. Biz, 9-9-12) "“Content owners have now an option using their postproduction service providers to put their finished edited content onto film at a lower price point than they’ve been able to do in the past."
• Maintaining Memories: How to Save Old Photographs (Jennifer Holder, Wise Bread, 7-31-12). An amateur's advice to fellow amateurs.
• Motion Picture Film Preservation
• NARA Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Creation of Production Master Files - Raster Images (National Archives and Records Administration)
• Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC, excellent and extensive links to online leaflets on conservation and preservation)
• Notes on Photographs (George Eastman House)
• Photographic Activity Test (PAT) -- Just What Is the Photographic Activity Test? (Daniel M. Burge, Picture Framing Magazine, 2-96). The PAT is "currently the only method available for predicting reactions (photographic activity) between display materials and photographs over the long term."
• Practical Archivist, Sally Jacobs on preserving family heirlooms. Sign up for her newsletter and get her free booklet 8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photos and How To Avoid Them All.
• Preservation Calculator for Photo Storage (Archival Advisor, Image Permanence Institute)
• Preservation (National Archives, gateway to a LOT of useful information about preservation, including the preservation of public or organizational papers)
• Preservation, information about (Library of Congress)
• Preservation and conservation, information about (U.S. National Archives)
• Preserving Family Papers and Photos (National Archives, Preservation Division)
• Preserving Your Wartime Letters (Chapman University)
• Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Organize, Present, and Restore Your Precious Family Images by Maureen A. Taylor, author of Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photograph. Watch Maureen solve cases on Photo Detective. Sign up for her free e-mail newsletter, The Photo Detective with tips and articles.
• Preserving Memories: Caring for Your Heritage (Clarke Historical Library in Michigan on how to care for, copy, and store letters, diaries, books, and other paper items; photographs; VCR tape, etc.)
• Preserving Photographs & Documents (FamilySearch wiki)
• Recommended Reading (Archival Advisor)
• Society of American Archivists (SAA) provides a directory, National Archival Organizations in the United States, with links to societies of medical archivists, religious archivists, regional history archivists, business archivists, and state organizations of archivists. See also Associated Professional Organizations and So You Want to Be an Archivists: An Overview of the Archives Profession.
• Tools for Archivists (Special Collections Division, Tulane University)
• Why the Library of Congress cares about archiving our tweets (Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, 8-18-10) The US government is paying good money to archive "top tweets" in the Library of Congress. Why?

Books about preservation

• Caring for Your Family Treasures: Heritage Preservation by Jane Long and Richard Long (the care and handling of precious family heirlooms such as old silver, wedding gowns, scrapbooks, photos, books, and dolls)
• Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Other Prized Possessions by Don Williams and Louisa Jaggar (senior conservators of the Smithsonian Institution)
• Keeping Your Past: A Basic Guide to Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs ($8 for 22-page guide, from Kansas City Area Archivists)

Adding metadata to photo

Please tell me about other helpful online resources

• How to Add Copyright Management Information to Your Photos (Carolyn E. Wright, Photo Attorney, 6-22-11)
• Why You Should Add Metadata To Your Photos (Carolyn E. Wright, Photo Attorney, 10-7-08)
• Watermarking Slideshow PDF Files (Sean McCormack, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 8-2-07)
• Why metalog (Controlled Vocabulary)
• Mind Your Phraseology (Christina Wodtke explains "controlled vocabulary," Digital Web Magazine 8-13-02)
• Examples of photo indexing for an electronic archive (Visual Edge '98)

Suppliers of archival materials

I have not personally used all of the following vendors of archival supplies and equipment, but I've put this list together for myself from recommendations of experts and colleagues.

• Archival Methods (Henrietta, NY 14467)
1-866-877-7050. One colleague uses their binder slip case sets to organize documents.
http:/​/​www.archivalmethods.com/​

• Archival Products (PO Box 1413, Des Moines, IA 50306-1413)
(800) 526-5640
http:/​/​www.archival.com

• Conservation Resources (5532 Port Royal Rd. Springfield, VA 22151)
1-800-634-6932
http:/​/​www.conservationresources.com

• Gaylord Archival (PO Box 4901, Syracuse, NY 13221-49011)
1 (800) 448-6160
http: /​/​www.gaylord.com

• Hollinger Metal Edge (6340 Bandini Blvd., Commerce, CA 90040)
1-800-862-2228 (CA)
(9401 Northeast Dr., Fredericksburg, VA 22408)
1-800-634-0491
http:/​/​www.metaledgeinc.com

• Light Impressions
(PO Box 787, Brea, CA 92822-0787)
1 (800) 828-6216
http:/​/​www.lightimpressionsdirect.com/​
Several colleagues told me this firm is no longer reliable at filling orders.

• Print File
1 (800) 827-0673

Talas
(30 Morgan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211)
1-212-219-0770
http:/​/​www.talas-nyc.com/​

• University Products (PO Box 101, 517 Main Street, Holyoke, MA 01040)
1-800-628-1912)
http:/​/​www.universityproducts.com

• Here is a lovely Portfolio Box, for elegant presentation.
See the New York State Archives for a fuller list (with addresses) of these and other vendors of archival supplies.
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"Digitization is not preservation. Always save the original element."
~Taylor Whitney, Preserving the Past

"Never dump originals - they may be all that is left after the computer age."
~Peter Amsden, via Taylor Whitney

TIMELINES, ARCHIVES, FAMILY HISTORY,
GENEALOGICAL AND OTHER HISTORICAL RESOURCES

See links about archiving and preservation in section just above this one.
The big picture
Genealogy gateway sites
Stories about the joys and perils of genealogical research
Genealogy-related TV shows
Tips for organizing and preserving family history materials (a booklist)
Genetic genealogy (testing DNA)
Searchable genealogy and family history databases, sites
Online newspaper archives (historic newspapers)
U.S. immigration, ports of entry
U.S. land and residential data
U.S. and Canadian census records and genealogy resources
Finding maiden names and female ancestors
African American genealogy and history resources
Irish and UK genealogy resources
European genealogy
Jewish genealogy resources
Resources on the Holocaust
Adoption issues and resources
More family history resources
Books about genealogy
Military records, history, and archives
Organizations focused on genealogy and family histories
Popular history (books)
Popular history (online)
History timelines
Genealogy and history, miscellaneous


The big picture


• Check out the 10-part series Henry Louis Gates Jr. did for PBS, viewable online: Finding Your Roots: http:/​/​www.pbs.org/​wnet/​finding-your-roots/​
• Ancestors (companion site to the PBS family history and genealogy television series)
• Family history research gets a little overhyped on NBC's show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" but it does make people think about their heritage. For its second season, starting June 2013, it will run on The Learning Channel (TLC).
• National Genealogical Society American Genealogy Home-Study Course (for learning how to research in a wide variety of original records and repositories). NGS also has a popular and well-attended national Family History Conference
• The Mormon Church Is Building a Family Tree of the Entire Human Race (Christine Kenneally, New Republic, 10-14-14). "Mormons think as hard as, probably harder than, anyone else in the world about what it means to keep facts alive, or at least to keep them accessible to the living, and the phenomenon they have built out of granite, microfilm, machines, and software is as mind-bogglingly ambitious for our century as the flying buttresses and gargoyles of Notre Dame were in the twelfth century." But there have been some omissions (such as LGBT marriages) and some unappreciated gestures (such as posthumous baptism of Jews). Excerpt from Kenneally's book The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures
• "Second Cousin, Once Removed" and More Explained in Chart Form (Dave Greenbaum, Lifehacker, 11-22-14)
• History in Context: The American vision of Bernard Bailyn (Gordon S. Wood, The Weekly Standard, 2-23-15) Powerful essay on the necessity of telling the whole story (of America's founding) and not overemphasizing the stories of the oppressed and dispossessed at the expense of how the main narrative, of how things got done. Could well apply to family stories, too: don't let the tail wag the dog.
• Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (Dan Hurley, Discovery, May 2013) Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.
• The ProGen Study Group. Each month group members study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians by Elizabeth Shown Mills and complete a practical assignment relating to the material. Fee of $95 to offset costs of website and Basecamp project management website. See also FAQ and lesson samples.
• Crista Cowan, The Barefoot Genealogist, gives a series of Ancestry.com webinars, which I hope are still be free online. Listen and watch, for example, to:
~Write It Down: Tips for Recording Family History
~Back to the Basics: Genealogy 101
~How to Search Ancestry.com Like a Detective
~Genealogy: Part History, Part Mystery
~Spelling Doesn't Count: Tips for Finding Your Ancestors (why names of our ancestors got misspelled)
~Telling Your Story (guest Ryan Littrell, author of Reunion: A Search for Ancestors, talks about how a search for family, a genealogy hunt that becomes addictive and compulsive, can be turned into a compelling narrative. The secret: don't bog them down in the details.
• Do I Still Need a Desktop Genealogy Program or is Family Tree Enough? (Renee Zamora, Renee's Genealogy blog, 5-15-13). On the very strong advantages of a desktop program over a website.
• Genealogy Cruises: Floating Genealogy Conferences (entry 6-25-11) on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter . See also Eastman's free online Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

Genealogy gateway sites

leading you where you need to go

• Cyndi's List (superb, encyclopedic portal to links to genealogy-related websites, categorized and cross-reference in 180 categories)
**Ancestry.com (links to many U.S. public records, including census and military records)
• Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)
• The Genealogy Radio Show (Lorna Moloney). Listen to delightful archived interviews and talks.
• Deleting the Family Tree (Jon Christian, Slate, 4-23-15) "When Ancestry.com shuttered its social network for relatives, it erased 10 years’ worth of my family’s correspondence and memories." "It’s natural to assume that service providers like Ancestry will be good custodians of our data, but toward the end of a product’s life, that understanding can be thrown out the window." (Keep paper copies of EVERYTHING important.)
• Academic Genealogy (a wiki: Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory). Megadirectory to genealogy and family history records, well worth exploring.
• One-Stop Webpages of Stephen P. Morse (excellent portal site, explained here, especially good for New York City area)
• Not Your Grandmother's Genealogy Hobby (Alina Dizik, WSJ 12-1-11). Wikis, social-networking sites, search engines and online courses are changing genealogy from a loner's hobby to a social butterfly's field day. New tools and expansive digital archives, including many with images of original documents, are helping genealogy newbies do research. Some are behind paywalls
• Great genealogy links (National Archives, Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)
• Resources for Genealogists (National Archives). Most requested: Military service records, immigration records, naturalization records, passport applications, land records, bankruptcy records.
• The Great Migration Study Project The aim of the Great Migration Study Project is to compile comprehensive genealogical and biographical accounts of every person who settled in New England between 1620 and 1640. Between these years about twenty thousand English men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic to settle New England. For a century and a half genealogists have been studying these families, and thousands of books and articles have been published as a result. A project of the New England Historic Genealogical Society .
• Climbing My Family Tree (Connie Shipley's blog has links to resources for the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and Germany, and other genealogy-related topics)
"It is certainly desirable to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." ~ Plutarch

[Back to Top] Back to top of Genealogy and Timelines

Stories about the joys and perils of genealogical research


• The Genealogy Show (Lorna Moloney, on Raidió Corca Baiscinn, talks and does interviews about Irish genealogy). Like me, you may listen partly to enjoy the Irish storytelling and Irish accents.
• An Unexpected Family Reunion, Seven Decades After the Holocaust (Jennifer Mendelsohn, Tablet, a new read on Jewish life, 8-8-13) "My husband’s grandmother’s family was decimated by the Nazis. But at 95, she discovered relatives she never knew."
• Searching for our roots (Tracy Smith, CBS News, video and print, 6-19-16)
• The secret buried under a family tree (Ellen Goodman, NY Times, Opinion, 4-18-08)
• Finding Your Roots (YouTube). Henry Louis Gates, Jr. delves into the genealogy and genetics of famous Americans (WLRN, episode 13, featuring Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada). See also episodes featuring Samuel L Jackson, Condoleezza Rice & Ruth Simmons; Robert Downey Jr & Maggie Gyllenhaal; Adrian Grenier, Michelle Rodriguez & Linda Chavez . There are many more, of course.
• Three Keys to Involving the Younger Generations in Genealogy (Scott Phillips, HuffPost, 7-14-13) Bottom line: call it "family history," emphasize stories, make your family tree electronically.
• Researching your ancestry is time-consuming yet addictive (Elise G. McIntosh, Staten Island Advance, 2-22-01). How genealogist Debra Farina dug up gems of historical information about Elise's family)
• Long-lost siblings unite (Elise G. McIntosh, Staten Island Advance, 2-22-11). The long-ago abandoned search for a sibling, separated early in childhood, is successful once the Internet makes searches easier.
• When a Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets (Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, 1-15-12). Some One in Five Find Unsavory Ancestors; How 'Sausage King' Got Rid of Wife
• Strangled by Roots: The Genealogy Craze in America (pdf, Steve Tinker, originally published in The New Republic, 7-30-07). "The news that Barack Obama's ancestors owned slaves was a bit more surprising than the news that Strom Thurmond's did, but it was more surprising still to be told that among the Thurmond family's slaves were the ancestors of Al Sharpton. And Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the fascinating PBS series African American Lives , which explored the family trees of six prominent African Americans, was astounded to learn that half of his own ancestry was European, including Irish kinsmen on his father's side and two Jewish women on his mother's."
• My adoptee family tree is actually an orchard (Lost Daughters, 9-20-12)
• A genealogical wish list (gift ideas for the genealogist in your family, from Reel Tributes)
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Genealogy-related TV shows


• Finding Your Roots (PBS, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)
• Genealogy Roadshow (PBS)
• Who Do You Think You Are (TLC)
• History Detectives-- Special Investigations (PBS)
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Genetic genealogy (DNA testing)


• Switched at Birth: Unraveling a Century-Old Mystery with DNA (Alice Plebuch, guest post on Your Genetic Genealogist, 2-27-15)
• Your Genetic Genealogist (CeCe Moore, an expert on ancestral DNA) This links to her resource page.
http:/​/​www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/​p/​affiliate-links.html
• "I Recommend" DNA testing companies CeCe Moore recommends and describes. Read the comments, also. (Thanks, Linda Coffin, for the lede.)
• Telling Stories with Mitochondrial DNA (Cece Moore, PBS, 10/​21/​14) in connection with DNA-Themed Episode of "Finding Your Roots with Louis Gates"
• Reconnecting Lost Family Tree Branches with DNA (CeCe Moore, PBS, 10-28-14, in connection with "Finding Your Roots"
• When DNA Confirms the Paper Trail (Cece Moore, PBS, Finding Your Roots, 11-18-14)
• Ashkenazi Jewish DNA and the Potential to Piece Together Shattered Family Branches (Cece Moore, PBS, Finding Your Roots, 11-12-14)
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Searchable genealogy and family history databases, sites


Some databases are free, some behind paywalls (marked $, often with a free trial). Some are licensed only to institutions, but may be accessible through a public or university library or a Family History Center.)

• Ancestry.com ($), a subscription site that links to many U.S. public records, including census and military records, and in 186 categories, including countries (and localities), record types, repositories, research techniques, clothing styles, histories of buildings, early medical technologies, occupations -- and much more. Top ranking family history site in this review of top-ranking genealogy search sites. But.... see:
• Deleting the Family Tree (Jon Christian, Slate, 4-23-15). When Ancestry.com shuttered its social network for relatives, it erased 10 years’ worth of my family’s correspondence and memories. DO NOT TRUST ONLINE FIRMS FOR LONG-TERM PRESERVATION. For sharing, yes. But make digital copies of your own and keep at least one print copy of everything) .
• Heritage Quest Online, available free through subscribing libraries, Heritage Quest Online has an intuitive interface, clear census images from 1790 to 1930, information about people and places in the PERiodic Source (PERSI) of the Fort Wayne Public Library, a digital version of the microfilm collections of University Microfilm, Lexis-Nexis U.S. Serials, some records from Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land warrant application files; individuals in Freedman's Bank (1986-1874), founded to serve African Americans; memorials, petitions, and relief actions of the U.S. Congress. No individual subscriptions, but you may be able to use in a library.
• UUGenWeb Project (free, volunteer-run, with rich information for some counties)
• Family Search (free). Family tree and genealogy records, including the International Genealogical Index, which contains records from early 1500s to early 1900s, collected by the Mormon Church, noted for its emphasis on genealogy -- with 4,500 Family History Centers worldwide (click here to find one near you ), branch facilities of the Mormons' well-known Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah
• Archives.com ($), a fairly new subscription site, reviewed here (see comments)
• World Vital Records ($, U.S. or World) Marriage, birth, death, court, and military records, plus passenger lists, yearbooks, manuscripts, parish and land records and more.
• Fold3, formerly Footnote: large military history database. (See Military Records, History, and Archives below.)
• RootsWeb (oldest, largest free genealogy site, an Ancestry.com community -- many helpful links). Check out indexes to RootsWeb contents: by subject and by issue number.
• Ancestor Search (free--includes Questions for family interviews.
• Social Security Death Index (SSDI --U.S.) Find birth and death dates in this database of info on U.S. citizens who have died since 1962. SSDI, explains Linda Coffin, of History Crafters, is an index to only one kind of record, in one kind of repository. It's not a primary source the way a death certificate or a death record would be, so you might get discrepancies between it and official documents or other databases. Another place to search: the Social Security Death Master File, but the Social Security Administration does not have death records for everyone and doesn't guarantee the veracity of these records. (Which, as Linda observes, is what makes genealogy research so interesting.)
• GenUKI, portal to genealogical information for UK and Ireland (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands). See "Irish and UK Genealogy" below for more links.

Online newspaper archives (historic newspapers)


• California Digital Newspaper Collection (a freely accessible repository of digitized California newspapers, 1846 to present)
• Genealogy Bank
• Newspapers.com (3,500 newspapers from the 1700s–2000s)
• Newspaper Archive
• Internet Public Library
• Wikipedia's list of online newspaper archives, worldwide and by state
• Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress & National Endowment for the Humanities). Search America's historic newspapers' pages (1836-1922) or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
• SmallTownPapers (over 250 small-town newspapers you can read free every week; browse and search scanned newspaper archive from 1865 on).
• NewsBank (searchable at libraries--see if you can have remote access through your local or university library)
• Newspaper Archive (access used to be through a library; browse by location, date, title, surname; subscriptions for individuals now available but a fellow biographer who asked to stop subscription is having trouble getting them to stop collecting the monthly $$).
• ObitsArchive (large searchable database of obituaries)
• GenealogyBank's Historical Newspaper Archives (over 320 years of obituaries, birth, marriages and newspaper articles about other key life events)
• America's Historical Newspapers (Readex's online database, from 1690 to recent past)
• One Hundred Years Ago in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
• Newspaper Archive http://www.ipl.org/div/news/"target="_blank">Internet Public Library
• Wikipedia's list of online newspaper archives, by country and by state
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Immigration, ports of entry

• Ellis Island Records. The Ellis Island Foundation has passenger records for 22 million passengers and ship crews, 1892-1924, with name, date of arrival, age on arrival, ship manifests and other information). See American Family Immigration History Center, as well as Passenger Search, the Ellis Island Archives, and the Castle Garden site for information about earlier immigrants.
• American Family Immigration History Center, Ellis Island (search free to find your immigrant ancestors entering American through New York)
• Angel Island (history and links, U.S. immigration station of the West). The actual immigration records are at the National Archives.
• They Came in Ships: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record, 3d edition, by John Philip Colletta
• They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins by Loretto Dennis Szucs

Australian National Immigration Collection (1788-1923) now online. News release about Ancestry.com's searchable database of over 14 million historical immigration records
• Castle Garden (database of info on 10 million U.S. immigrants from 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened)
• Steven Morse's one-stop webpage, with links to search forms for passenger lists, ship lists, manifests for Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and other ports (including Baltimore, Boston, Galveston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Canada) -- plus Germans, Italians, and Russians to America and much more. Bookmark this site!
• Cyndi's List links to ethnic associations
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Land and residential data

• Bureau of Land Management records (U.S. Dept of Interior) U.S. land records from 1810 to 1960 -- learn where your family had land; get certified copies of land patents.
• Urban Genealogy (uncover the history of any New York City building)
• Historic Map Works ($, residential genealogy). See also Google Earth, for how things look now.
• City-Data.com (rankings in hundreds of categories, such as income, crime, most gay couples, most cars, shortest commute, biggest houses, best educated residents, and many more)
• Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (interactive maps and chronologies of county history, helpful for tracking changes in county names and boundaries)
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U.S. and Canadian Census Records

and related records

• At the National Archives, you can find a huge amount of information (but if you need to do it online, it may be easier to go to and through ancestry.com or HeritageQuestOnline).
• Online census data (U.S., on Ancestry.com)
• Online census data (U.S. on HeritageQuest) (find ancestors in complete set of U.S. census images, 1790-1930)
The 1940 Census: 72-Year-Old Secrets Revealed (Linton Weeks, NPR, 4-2-12). See also Welcome to the 1940 census.
• How can I search the Census Records? (National Archives how-to page)
• Frequently asked questions (National Archives)
• How to Access the 1940 Census (Steven Morse)
• Application for search of U.S. census records (for $65, you can request specific Federal Census Records from years that have not been released yet, as long as you provide the correct information--such as names and addresses). Not sure how much you can get beyond information about your own family.
• Selective Service Records (WWI, WWII, and WWII through Vietnam era, and for military personnel born 1960 and later.
• County Clerks U.S. county clerk court records -- of marriage (licenses), divorce, arrest, public, jail, judicial, probate, criminal, and court proceedings.
• 101 most state-of-the-art state state archives (David A. Fryxell, Family Tree Magazine 6-14-11). Best state archives and historical societies in the United States, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin
• Godfrey Memorial Library Online (A Library of Genealogy, History and Biography--covers world, but strong on New England)
• Census of Canada
• Canadian census (Ancestry.com)
• Héritage, a 10-year initiative to digitize and make accessible online some of Canada’s most popular archival collections encompassing roughly 60 million pages of primary-source documents.
• Censuses, databases, digitized microforms, research aids (Library and Archives Canada)
• Library and Archives Canada (in French and/​or in English)
• 15 Great Websites for Genealogy Research (Judi Hasson, AARP, 5-16-11)
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Finding maiden names and female ancestors


(with a hat tip to Anne Toohey, who provided these links at the Library of Congress)

• Your Guide to Finding Female Ancestors (Barb Snow)
• Finding a maiden name online (Genealogy.com)
• Top 9 Places to Find Maiden Names (Kimberly Powell, About.com Guide). See also Powell's Invisible Women Ancestors: How to Research the Women in Your Family Tree
• Genealogy: Tips for finding females that matter to you (Jule Miller, Bloomfield Enterprise, 10-17-09)
• Finding Female Ancestors and Maiden Names: The Hidden Half of History (Donna Przecha, Genealogy.com)
• Reading the Lives of Women through Their Obituaries: With Tips for Searching in Historical Newspapers (Michele Harper, Readex)
• Do you ever cry over the lost ladies on your pedigree like some genealogists do? (Arlene Eakle's Genealogy Blog)
• Tracing Women in Military Records (Arlene Eakle)
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African American genealogy and history

• The Freedmen's Bureau Project. Emancipation freed nearly 4 million U.S. slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help them transition from slavery to citizenship, providing food, housing, education, and medical care. For the first time in U.S. history, the names of those individuals were systematically recorded and preserved for future generations. (Watch the video.) more. See 1.5 Million Slavery Era Documents Will Be Digitized, Helping African Americans to Learn About Their Lost Ancestors (Open Culture, 6-24-15) The Freedmen’s Bureau Project (an initiative spearheaded by the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) will make available online 1.5 million historical documents, finally allowing descendants of former African-American slaves to learn more about their family roots.
• African American history records (Ancestry.com). Slave narratives, troop records for U.S. colored troops in the Civil War, Freedman's Bank and Bureau records, World War I draft cards, etc.
• African Ancestry (a DC-based genetic genealogy company that helps people of African descent "trace their ancestry back to their present-day African country of origin by analyzing their DNA")
• Digital Library on American Slavery
• National Visionary Leadership Project (interviews with African American elders)
• AfriQuest (user-submitted records)
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Irish and UK genealogy

• BBC's excellent Family History resources, including timelines of British history, ancient history, Irish history (e.g., "The Troubles, 1963-85")
• Irish Surnames and Sources (Dr. Paul MacCotter, Episode 11, The Genealogy Show, Raidió Corca Baiscinn, hosted by Lorna Moloney)

• The National Archives, UK (official govt archives, from Domesday Book to various websites. Here's Getting Started overview
• Find My Past ($, UK genealogy site with huge records collection; project with British Library to digitize archives of India Office; Find My Past, the TV show
• GenUKI (UK & Ireland genealogy)
• Irish Genealogy (scroll down for links to online resources)
• Origins.net ($, subscribe to British Origins, Irish Origins, or both)
• Ancestry.com's new Irish historical records
• Irish Genealogical Society International (Irish genealogical researchers looking for Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors in Ireland and around the world--based in Minneapolis)
• Irish Genealogy (based in Ireland)
• Scotlands People ($, the official Scottish genealogy resource). Scottish census and parish records, statutory registers, coats of arms, wills and testaments
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Jewish genealogy

Understandably, Jews often don't trust other genealogy sources
• Jewish Gen (affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage; among other resources, the Yizkor Book Master Name Index
• Frequently asked questions (JewishGen)
• Avotaynu (publisher of products of interest to those researching Jewish genealogy, Jewish family trees, or Jewish roots)
• Jewish Genealogy, Surnames, and Family History (excellent links)
• SephardicGen.com (Jeffrey Malka's Sephardic links)
• Sephardic Forum
• Jewish Web Index
• Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group (SA-SIG)
• Jewish genealogy sites (Hareshima.com)
• JewishGen KehilaLinks (formerly "ShtetLinks"), commemorating the places Jews have lived.
• Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog

Resources on the Holocaust

• Holocaust Resources (Web links to valuable resources, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
• Holocaust Historical Data Goes Digital (AP story: "Israel's Yad Vashem memorial, the world's largest collection of Holocaust documents, is teaming up with Google to make its photographs and documents interactive and searchable on the Internet."
• Yad Vashem Photo Archive
• Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names
• Holocaust Oral History Projects
• Electronic Resources About Holocaust
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More family history resources


• Family History Books Family Search, with material formerly at BYU Family History Archives and elsewhere
• 15 Great Websites for Genealogy Research (Judi Hasson, AARP, 5-16-11)
• 12 top-rated family tree makers (software rated by personal historian Dan Curtis)
• Ancestry.com (easy to navigate genealogical database, widely used by genealogists, but you have to pay for every record you access, so budget accordingly).
• BackUpMyTree, a free online backup service for your genealogy files, described by Diane Haddad, Genealogy Insider 9-13-10
• Geni.com(create your own family tree)
• Cousins Chart (Los Quatro Ojos)
• Family Group Record sheet (PDF, Ancestry.com)
• Find a grave
• GenForum (find the forum for one of your family surnames, find people doing research on same lines, and ask questions, which you may find distant relatives answering)
• Genealogy Gems News (Lisa Louise Cook, host of Genealogy Gems Podcast
• The Genealogy Guys Podcast
• GenealogyWise (genealogy social network)
• Geneabloggers (blogs in genealogy community)
* The Genographic Project (National Geographic -- with a single cheek swab, learn about your deep ancestry)
• Geni.com(create your own family tree)
• Genealogy CDs
• The Gene Pool (resources helpful for family histories)
• History Matters (excellent U.S. history survey course online)
• How to Get Started Building Your Family Tree (Ancestor Search, Ancestry.com)
• Making Sense of Letters and Diaries (Steven Stowe, History Matters, PDF)
• Making Sense of Oral History (online course, Linda Shopes, History Matters)
• The ProGen Study Group. Each month group members study one or two chapters of Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians by Elizabeth Shown Mills and complete a practical assignment relating to the material.
• NGS American Genealogy Home-Study Course (for learning how to research in a wide variety of original records and repositories)
• Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (Facebook page explaining the temporary suspension of this site, which connects visitors with volunteers around the world who search for local historical records, church documents, headstones)
• Relatively Curious about Genealogy blog
• Rootsweb Guide to Tracing Family Trees
• Genealogy Gems News (Lisa Louise Cook, host of Genealogy Gems Podcast
• The Genealogy Guys Podcast
• 15 Great Websites for Genealogy Research (Judi Hasson, AARP, 5-16-11)
• WikiTree (a "free family tree system that encourages collaboration")
• Find A Grave (useful and free)
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Serious genealogists follow standards for genealogical reporting, so you may want to check out these books on how to present material, how to number
individuals and generations, and how to format, capitalize, and indent what you write. (If you purchase anything after linking to Amazon through one of these links, I get a small commission, which helps support the cost of maintaining this site. You may also order most of them through the National Genealogical Society at http:/​/​www.ngsgenealogy.org/​cs/​publications/​ngs_special_publications/​current_publications )

• Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage by Barbara Renick (National Genealogical Society)
• How to Do Everything: Genealogy by George M. Morgan
• The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors by Marsha Hoffman Rising
• The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, ed. by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking
• Bringing Your Family History to Life Through Social History by Katherine Scott Sturdevant (out of print, but many used copies are available)
• Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian (Elizabeth Shown Mills)
• Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Molls. Preview some content on her website, such as QuickLesson 8: What Constitutes Proof? (which starts: "Proof is not a document. It’s a body of evidence.").
• Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin (by by Curran, Coen, and Wray, updated by E.S. Mills)
• Quicksheet Citing Ancestry.com Databases & Images (Elizabeth Shown Mills)
• Quicksheet: Genealogical Problem Analysis: A Strategic Plan (Evidence, Style) (Elizabeth Shown Mills, templates and examples for writing source list Entries, reference notes, etc.)
• The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. This official manual from the Board of Certification for Genealogists provides a standard by which all genealogists can pattern their work.

Consider these if you want to do genealogy professionally:
• Becoming an Accredited Genealogist: Plus 100 Tips to Ensure Your Success by Karen Clifford (to prepare you for taking the accreditation examination offered by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City)
• Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians by Elizabeth Shown Mills
• The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Board for Certification Of Genealogists, published by Ancestry.com)

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Military records, history, and archives

• Fold3 (for the third fold of the flag) and the Fold3 blog. Original historical and military records from the National Archives, “most never before available on the Internet," from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, and WWII. Formerly Footnote).
• Military Indexes and Records, Online (rosters, databases of soldiers, and listings of military and war casualties, for Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, U.S. Civil War, Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War)
• U.S. military service records, how to get copies (U.S. National Archives)
• Veterans’ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (U.S. National Archives)
• Pritzker Military Library (research library focused on the citizen soldier)
• African American history records (Ancestry.com). Slave narratives, troop records for U.S. colored troops in the Civil War, Freedman's Bank and Bureau records, World War I draft cards, etc.
• Researching Your Civil War Ancestry Online (Kathleen Brandt, AARP 4-11-11)
• Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS)
• Virtual Wall, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
• Iraq Veterans Memorial
• U.S. Army Heritage Collections Online
• U.S. Army Military Institute, a branch of the Army Heritage and Education Center (located in Ridgway Hall near the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania)
• Experiencing War, Stories from the Veterans History Project (by theme: Forever a Soldier, companion to the PBS series, The War; Voices of War, the first VHP collection; and other themes: courage, buddies, patriotism, sweethearts, family ties, on a mission, life-altering moments, hurry up and wait, military intel, woman at war, the art of war, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Disabled Veterans, Buffalo Soldiers, American Indians, military medicine, D-Day, POWs, VJ-Day, VE-Day, China-Burma-India, Helicopters: the multimission aircraft, submarines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. A Library of Congress project.

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Organizations focused on genealogy and family histories


• Association of Personal Historians (APH, The Life Story People, helping individuals, families, organizations, and communities preserve their valuable histories, memories, and life stories, in print, audio, and video)
• Association of Professional Genealogists (APG)
• Cyndi's list (genealogy sites on the Internet--a top site)
• Cyndi's list of ethnic organizations
• The Federation of East European Family History Societies
• Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS, linking the genealogical community)
• FGS links to local genealogical societies
• International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE, encouraging excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing)
• List of Genealogical Societies (Ancestry.com's links to many national, state, regional, and ethnic genealogical societies and umbrella organizations in the United States)
• National Genealogical Society.. Among other things, an excellent selection of materials including videos like this video of Janet Alpert on Getting Started--on how we first start doing genealogical because we're curious about our identity a generation or so back, then we discover how much information is available, get curious, then get hooked, and the research deepens. Check out their super collection of videos, of interest to anyone tracking down family history or curious about genealogy (as hobby or career).
• RootsTech (this URL links to 19 video presentations from the 2014 RootsTech conference)
• Society of American Archivists (SAA) provides a directory, National Archival Organizations in the United States, with links to societies of medical archivists, religious archivists, regional history archivists, business archivists, and state organizations of archivists. See also So You Want to Be an Archivists: An Overview of the Archives Profession.The USGenWeb Project. "Keeping Internet Genealogy Free." Volunteers provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. Organized by county and state.
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Popular history (books)


(See Timelines in entry below)
• Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen (originally published in the 1930s, it's a classic account of what happened in the U.S. from the end of World War II till the beginning of the Depression.
• Since Yesterday: The 1930's in America (Frederick Lewis Allen on the period from Sept. 3, 1929 until Sept. 3, 1939)
• The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932-1972 by William Manchester
• Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression by David E. Kyvig
• The Fifties by David Halberstam, whose book about U.S. involvement in Vietnam , The Best and the Brightest, is also worth a read.
• When We Were Young: A Baby-Boomer Yearbook by Rita Lang Kleinfelder
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Popular history (online)


See also Timelines, below
• African American history records (Ancestry.com). Slave narratives, troop records for U.S. colored troops in the Civil War, Freedman's Bank and Bureau records, World War I draft cards, etc.
• American Folklife Center Online Archive of Symposia and Related Events
• America in the 1930s (timeline, images, radio broadcasts, etc., from University of Virginia American Studies)
• American cultural history in the 20th century, decade by decade (Lone Star College, Kingwood Library, good for background)
• American Heritage History Sites
• American Life Histories (manuscripts from the Folklore Project, WPA Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940)
• America Writes Home (Letters from before 1920, National Old Time Letters Project)
• Archive Grid. This fee-based service for locating archival materials, based on nearly one million collection descriptions from thousands of libraries and archives, will soon be freely available via an experimental interface developed by OCLC.
• BBC's excellent Family History resources, including timelines of British history, ancient history, Irish history (e.g., "The Troubles, 1963-85")
• British History Online (printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isle)
• Canadian Archives (in English or French)
• *Current value of old money (info from scholars around the world -- scroll down for comparisons of the purchasing power of money in the United States, or the colonies in North America, from 1665 to any other year up to the present)
• Diaries In The Key Of Steinway: A Piano Builder's View Of 19th-Century New York, Thomas Huizenga's story, NPR Music, 12-17-10, about an online exhibit of William Steinway's diary, 1961-1896, courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
• The Dirty Thirties (McCord Museum exhibit: Images of the Great Depression in Canada include breadlines, relief camps, protest marches and dust storms sweeping over the western plains)
• Historical Atlas of the 20th Century
• Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (884 pages). Apparently an important guide to evaluating and citing sources in family (genealogical) research--including electronic resources. Described in one review as a "monumental improvement over earlier works," important for family researchers.
• Experiencing War, Stories from the Veterans History Project (by theme: Forever a Soldier, companion to the PBS series, The War; Voices of War, the first VHP collection; and other themes: courage, buddies, patriotism, sweethearts, family ties, on a mission, life-altering moments, hurry up and wait, military intel, woman at war, the art of war, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Disabled Veterans, Buffalo Soldiers, American Indians, military medicine, D-Day, POWs, VJ-Day, VE-Day, China-Burma-India, Helicopters: the multimission aircraft, submarines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. A Library of Congress project.
• EyeWitness to History (History through the eyes of those who lived it)
• Fads over the decades (from Mahjongg to earth shoes to body piercing), from CrazyFads.com
• Fifties Web (site devoted to popular history of 1950s and 1960s, including such items as Burma-Shave Slogans of the '50s
• Free Speech Movement (Barbara Stack's bibliography and archives, 1965 on). See also HUAC Black Friday Riot
• Gallery of Graphic Design (ads from popular magazines from '30s through '60s)
• Global Gateway: World Culture & Resources (U.S. Library of Congress)
• Historical Voices (spoken-word archives)
• History Matters (U.S. History Course on the Web, American Social History Project)
• Inflation Calculator (CPI) and West Egg's Inflation Calculator (how much was X worth in 19yy, in today's dollars? with links to other inflation-related sites)
• Interactive Census Project (Fold3)
• Internet Archive (Wayback Machine). Excellent site: spend time exploring its resources!
• In the First Person (an index to letters, diaries, oral histories and personal narratives -- to more than 4,000 collections of personal narratives in English from around the world)
• Land records (U.S. Bureau of Land Management database records, 1810-1960)
• Making Sense of Evidence . This page is a gateway to several excellent History Matters online survey courses, including Making Sense of Oral History, Making Sense of Films, Making Sense of Numbers, Making Sense of Letters and Diaries, Making Sense of Advertisements, Making Sense of American Popular Song, Making Sense of Documentary Photography.
• Making Sense of Oral History (Linda Shopes, History Matters--an excellent online survey course)
• Memory Archive (a wiki-encyclopedia of memories)
• Library of Congress Local History and Genealogy Reading Room. Check out the entire menu of invaluable Library of Congress Digital Collections (American history and culture, historic newspapers, international collections, legislative information, performing arts, prints & photographs, Veterans History, and website archives). Collection highlights and 25 most frequently asked questions by visitors.
• Mr. Pop Culture (week by week, 1950s through 2000s)
• National Archives (superb resources for genealogists, family historians, nonfiction research)
• National Archives, UK (official government archives, from Domesday Book to websites). Here's a Getting Started overview.
• New Jersey State Archives (NJDARM, good historical records)
• OCLC Global Gateway. The world's libraries. Connected.
• Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century ( a single point of access to an ever-growing selection of digitized assets from the collections of the thirteen Presidential Libraries of the National Archives)
• Quakes' many stories to go on the record (Philip Matthews, The Press, New Zealand 6-8-11) and an earlier story about the 2011 Christchurch earthquake: How to remember our dark days (Christopher Moore 6-8-11).
• September 11 Digital Archive (saving the histories of Sept. 11, 2001)
• Take Me Back to the Sixties (great music-and-images stroll down Memory Lane, but don't use this music in your projects without clearing permissions)
• The Tenement Museum (NYC)
• The Wayback Machine/​Internet Archive (digital archive of old Internet sites, including earlier versions of current sites)
• Weather Warehouse, learn what the weather was like on a certain date at a certain location (for fee)
• Weather History (Weather Underground, what the weather was like on a certain date and place) (free)
• We Didn't Start the Fire (Ye Li's clever illustration of Billy Joel's song, a fast romp through 50 years of U.S. history)
• The western front in the first world war and now – interactive (The Guardian, 7-25-14), part of its excellent Photography then and now series.
• Worldhistory.com(interactive maps, timelines, artifacts, etc., and check out miscellany posted on their Twitter account)
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History timelines


• AlternaTime (links to many excellent history timelines, worldwide)
• Astonishing Century a book by the late Robert D. Joyce (a slimmer book than the Grun)
• America's Best History (U.S. history timeline)
• America in the 1930s
• American Cultural History: The Twentieth Century (decade by decade) (Lone Star College). See similar timeline for the 19th Century
• Best of History Sites (portal to annotated links to over 1200 history web sites and educational resources)
• Dipity (a tool for creating online timelines--which wasn't working last time we checked -- has something replaced it?--check out online timeline creation tools for teachers, etc.)
• What happened in a particular month and year, in history (Scope Systems historic events and birth dates that occurred on a SELECTED month and year)
• WorldHistory.com (interactive maps, timelines, artifacts, etc., and check out miscellany posted on their Twitter account)
• On This Day: Today's Highlights in History (New York Times)
• "This day in history" (dMarie time capsule--enter a date MM/​DD/​YYYY)
• "This day in history" (Scopes--historic events for a particular month and day)
• The Timetables of American History by Laurence Urdang (reference book, foreword by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).
• The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grun (reference book)
• TimeandDate.com (perpetual and make-your-own calendars -- various calendars, holiday and date calculators)

• Our Timelines (helps you create family timelines in historical context)
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Genealogy and history (miscellaneous)

• Date of birth search (dobsearch.com), people finder
• Family Health History resources (the Genetic Alliance)
• Family Health History (Order free booklet, Genetic Alliance)
• U.S. Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative (HHS)
• Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter
• Mayo Clinic's guide to compiling your family medical tree
• CDC's podcast on how collecting family history information could save your child's life
• Familysearch.org (family tree and genealogy records, including International Genealogical Index, which contains records from early 1500s to early 1900s, collected by Mormon Church)
• Family Tree Chart. Leslie Wittman created this family tree chart with photographs using Microsoft Publisher. On her home page she shows the chart animated with narration running beneath.
• GenealogyCDs (regional and by family)
• Genealogy Gems News (on PBS's Faces of America series)
• The Genealogy Guys Podcast
• Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage by Barbara Renick, of the National Genealogical Society
• GenealogyWise (genealogy social network)
• GenForum (find the forum for one of your family surnames, find people doing research on same lines, and ask questions, which you may find distant relatives answering)
• Geni.com(create your own family tree)
* The Genographic Project (National Geographic -- with a single cheek swab, learn about your deep ancestry)
• The Gene Pool (Rootsweb, Ancestry.com, more resources helpful for family histories)
• HistoryWired ("a few of our favorite things" in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History)
• Cemetery Records Online (transcriptions of cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions from cemeteries in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and other countries)
• My Life in Genealogy
by David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch, telling the story of how he got his start in genealogy, his personal research, and the legacy he hopes to leave his children. Interview filmed by Kate Geis and Allen Moore for National Genealogical Society.
• National Archives (U.S.) (superb resources for genealogists, family historians, nonfiction research)
• National Archives, UK (official government archives, from Domesday Book to websites). Here's a Getting Started overview.
• New Jersey State Archives (NJDARM), good historical records)
• Portals to the World (Global Gateway, Library of Congress, under review)
• Regional Genealogy and Local History Research (portal to resources worldwide)
• Strangled by Roots: The Genealogy Craze in America (pdf, Steve Tinker, originally published in The New Republic, 7-30-07). "The news that Barack Obama's ancestors owned slaves was a bit more surprising than the news that Strom Thurmond's did, but it was more surprising still to be told that among the Thurmond family's slaves were the ancestors of Al Sharpton. And Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the fascinating PBS series African American Lives , which explored the family trees of six prominent African Americans, was astounded to learn that half of his own ancestry was European, including Irish kinsmen on his father's side and two Jewish women on his mother's."
• Top 25 Things Vanishing from America (Daily Finance). Pit toilets, yellow pages, movie rental stores, phone landlines, Chesapeake blue crabs. Can you guess the rest?
• The USGenWeb Project (volunteers working together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States)
• U.S. Vital Records (About.com on How & Where to Find Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Divorce Certificates & Adoption Records)
• Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization--providing links to older versions of a webpage.
• What's New in Genealogy & Family History Resources? (Academic-Genealogy.com)
• WorldGenWeb Project, The. (worldwide network of volunteer genealogists, some of whom may have digitized maps, birth records, cemetery records, etc., from the location you're searching)
• World Vital Records (large database, including birth, death, military, census, and parish records, newspapers, and family histories)
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DOING ORAL HISTORIES or VIDEO INTERVIEWS


"Most men would rather have you hear their story than grant their wish." ~Old saying
An oral history may be different from a video interview (for one thing, an oral history is typically archived for access by historians -- its aim is to capture history in the words of history's participants -- often around the theme of a particular oral history collection), but some of the same practical information may be helpful for video histories.

Online guides to doing oral history
Transcribing oral history interviews
Books about doing oral history
Oral history as social history
Stories about oral history
Further reading about oral history
Oral history collections online



Online guides to doing oral history


• Principles and Best Practices for Oral History (Oral History Association, adopted October 2009).
• Create Your Own Project (Louisiana State University's links to forms and tutorials)
• Baylor Institute for Oral History offers, among other things, a Digital Oral History Workshop (do download the PDF of chapter 3 from Oral History for Texans (about interviewing).
• Interviewing for Research. An excellent online guide to conducting one-to-one semi-structured or unstructured interviews, prepared by Colin Hyde of the East Midlands Oral History Archive (Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, UK).
• Who Owns Oral History? A Creative Commons Solution (Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson, 4-12, as part of a public history web-book, On The Line: how schooling, housing, and civil rights shaped Hartford and its suburbs
• Informed Consent form and Deed of Gift form, part of onlineOral History Techniques, Center for the Study of History and Memory (Indiana University, Bloomington)
• Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C. (with a state-by-state guide). (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2008)
• Making Sense of Oral History (Linda Shopes, History Matters)
• Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History (Judith Moyer)
• On Making Oral Histories More Accessible to Persons with Hearing Loss (Brad Rakerd, Oral History Review (2013) 40 (1): 67-74. doi: 10.1093/​ohr/​oht022)
• A Quick Guide to Conducting an Oral History (Carol Hicke, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, formerly A One-Minute Guide...)
• Oral History Association Wiki (to find and share information resources about oral history)
• Tips for Interviewers (UC Berkeley Library), from Willa K. Baum's Oral History for the Local Historical Society
• Veterans History Project (guide to participation)
• Art of the Oral Historian (UC, Santa Barbara)
• Fundamentals of Oral History: Texas Preservation Guidelines (Texas Historical Commission)
• Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Field Techniques (the American Folklife Center's online guide to documenting our diverse folk cultural heritage, Library of Congress). See, for example, model forms: fieldwork data sheet, audio and video recording log, still photography log, and release form. (Also available as a 46-page PDF file in English or in Spanish (La Tradición Popular y la Investicación de Campo).)
• Smithsonian Folk Life and Oral History Guide by Marjorie Hunt (PDF file)
• National Park Service Guide to Doing Oral History
• U.S. Army Guide to Oral History (Stephen J. Lofgren, U.S. Army Center of Military History)
• U.S. Coast Guard--Oral History: A Guide for Conducting Naval Historical Interviews
• In Our Own Voices: a guide to conducting life history interviews with American Jewish women by Jayne K. Guberman, Jewish Women's Archive. Click here to read the book free at Google Books.
• How to do an oral history (Kate Cavett, Hand-in-Hand Productions)
• Collecting Stories: The Oral Interview in Research (excellent Q&A on how to do an oral history interview, by Marsha MacDowell), The Spoken Word
• After the Interview: The Interpretive Challenges of Oral History Video Indexing (Steve High and David Sworn, Digital Studies/​Le champ numérique Vol 1, No. 2, 2009). This is really about oral history databases. See Stories Matter (free open source software built by oral historians for oral historians, from the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling)
• Who Owns Oral History? A Creative Commons Solution Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson,, On the Line, 8-11-12). Read the comments, too. An important discussion: "When an oral history narrator shares her story in response to questions posed by an interviewer, and the recording and transcript are deposited in an archive, who holds the rights to these historical source materials? Who decides whether or not they may be shared with the public, quoted in a publication, or uploaded to the web? Who decides whether someone has the right to earn money from including an interview in a commercially distributed book, video, or website? Furthermore, does Creative Commons, a licensing tool developed by the open access movement to protect copyright while increasing public distribution, offer a better solution to these questions than existing oral history protocols?"
• Best Practices, Oral History in the Digital Age (links in several categories: audio, video, audio and video, general digitization and digital projects, conducting oral history and transcription guidelines, metadata & searching, access & use, intellectual property.
• The Voice of the Past: Oral History by Paul Thompson. "The first book to combine a theory of oral history, the technical processes involved, and a road map of where oral evidence fits into the landscape of western historiography." --American Historical Review
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Transcribing oral history interviews


Transcribing oral history interviews:
• Indexing and Transcribing Your Interviews (Veterans History Project)
• Transcribing Style Guide (Baylor Institute for Oral History, download PDF)
• Transcribing, editing, and processing guidelines (PDF, Minnesota Historical Society). Note that transcripts are not all verbatim--that inessential elements may be omitted ("a judgment call").
• Summaries and Transcriptions (East Midlands Oral History Archive guide to interviewing)
• How do I transcribe oral history recordings? Information Sheet #15, Transcribing and summarising oral history recordings, East Midlands Oral History Archive
• Indexing and Transcribing Your Interviews (Library of Congress, Veterans History Project)
• Transcription and Editing (U.S. Army Guide to Military History)
• The interviewee's right to "edit" a transcript or story (Pat McNees, Writers & Editors -- whether interview sees transcript depends partly on whether you are a journalist, an oral historian, a personal historian, or a collaborator/​ghostwriter)
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Books about doing oral history


(If you buy anything on Amazon after clicking on one of these links,
we collect a small commission, which helps support this website.)

• Curating Oral Histories: From Interview to Archive by Nancy McKay ("addresses the management, preservation, and access issues" most texts ignore)
• Doing Oral History by Donald A. Ritchie
• Voice of Witness: Illuminating human rights crises through oral history (summer intensive oral history training called Amplifying Unheard Voices, and Common Core aligned curriculum through our website and publication The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Guide to Oral History
• A Guide to Oral History and the Law by John A. Neuenschwander (essential for any serious oral history project)
• Oral History for the Local Historical Society, 3rd edition, by Willa K. Baum
• The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends by Cynthia Hart and Lisa Samson (a primer for those who want to supplement genealogy research with family stories -- with many pages of interview questions on various topics)
• The Oxford Handbook of Oral History, a new book ed. by Donald A. Ritchie (40 authors on the evolution of oral history, the impact of digital technology, the most recent methodological and archival issues, and the application of oral history to both scholarly research and public presentations).
• On Listening to Holocaust Survivors: Beyond Testimony by Henry Greenspan. Greenspan spent more than 20 years interviewing and re-interviewing the same small group of Holocaust survivors--listening to them "recount" their experiences, seeking a sustained conversation, not one-time "testimony." For survivors, healing comes through repetition, to sympathetic listeners, of the horrors of their experience. Listening is a gift, and repetition often yields new stories, the telling of which relieves a burden in the teller.
• Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences by Valerie Raleigh Yow
• Story Bridges: A Guide for Conducting Intergenerational Oral History Projects a new book by Angela Zusman. You can download an interesting excerpt (PDF) from the Left Coast Press site, clicking on "download excerpt" beneath book image.
• The Tape-Recorded Interview: A Manual for Field Workers in Folklore and Oral History by Edward D. Ives (useful for folklorists and archivists)
• Using Oral History in Community History Projects by Laurie Mercier and Madeline Buckendorf (a 61-page guide).
• They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History, edited by Alessandro Portelli, drawing on 25 years of interviews (reviewed on H-Net by Jessie Wilkerson)
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Oral history as social history


• Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich (fascinating and essential reading) and Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War Read Svetlana Alexievich wins Nobel Prize in literature (Ron Charles, Washington Post, 10-8-15) "“For the past 30 or 40 years, [Alexievich] has been busy mapping the Soviet and post-Soviet individual,” the Nobel secretary said. "But it’s not really about a history of events. It’s a history of emotions. What she’s offering us is really an emotional world....these historical events that’s she’s sort of covering in her various [ways] — the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and so on — these are, in a way, just pretext for exploring the Soviet individual and the post-Soviet individual. She’s conducted thousands and thousands of interviews with children, with women and with men, and in this way she’s offering us a history of a human being about whom we don’t really know that much. . . . And at the same time, she’s offering us a history of emotions, a history of the soul.” Here's what oral historian Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner says of Alexievich's work: “What makes oral history unique is the same thing that has drawn some criticism to the Nobel committee’s selection for the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature. Scientific researchers come in with pre-defined questions and then use the answers to create statistics. Journalists have very little time. Those who write fiction ask questions and draw on their own experiences but then tell an imagined story. What Sventlana Alexievich has done—what any oral historian does—is so powerful because she uses the voice of one person at a time to tell an incredibly diverse larger story. Her books are fireworks of inclusiveness. She listens deeply to hundreds of people of all ages—men, women, even children—and then uses her wonderful talent as a writer to weave it together, like a colorful rag-rug, telling the story through the experiences and emotions of each individual in his or her own voice. I am very happy that oral history as a discipline is being recognized this way. And I am in awe of what Svetlana Alexievich has succeeded to create.” (from From Fran Morley's piece on APH blog, after Svetlana Alexievich received a Nobel Prize for Literature, granting oral history status as literature.

• The Case for Oral History Research (by Molly Graham and Keith Ludden). And The ADA At 25 Oral History and Folklife Research interviewed Maine residents who were involved in the disability rights movement or impacted by it.

• Squatting History: The Power of Oral History as a History-Making Practice (Amy Starecheski, Oral History Review, 8-26-14) By comparing three case studies of oral history telling, the research presents instances in which history has been consciously used to try to pass on activist knowledge to a new generation through public discussions about the past and by making intimate conversations about the past into public documents.
• Edie: American Girl . Jean Stein and George Plimpton's marvelous and now-classic oral history of the 1960s as lived by Edie Sedgwick, who exploded into the public eye as Andy Warhol’s aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young,superstar. Within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appeared, and before she turned twenty-nine she was dead from a drug overdose. Wonderful book that shows how rich oral history can be.
• As a model for social history, check out Craig Taylor. Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It (an oral history of contemporary London as seen through the eyes of the city’s residents and former inhabitants, as reviewed by John Williams , Arts Beat, NYTimes, 3-2-12).
• Studs Terkel, whose excellent popular oral history books include
---Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression
---Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (for which teaching guide is available
--- The Good War: An Oral History of World War II
• Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II by J. Todd Moye (Oxford Oral History Series), based on 800 interviews recorded for the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project)
• The power of oral history as a history-making practice (Andrew Shaffer, Oxford University Press blog, 10-3-14)
• From Boat to Throat: How Oral Histories Immerse Students in Ecoliteracy and Community Building (Katie Kuszmar, Oral History Review, 8-26-14) High school students in the Monterey Bay area of California learned history through immersion in a long oral history project. "One of the beauties of student oral history projects is that their interviews are primarily investigative. Students learn essential knowledge from the interviews themselves, and their lack of expertise can set an authentic tone for the interviews. Because of their youth, they may be able to get answers to questions that many in the general public would also have but might hesitate to ask....This community building was an exchange of curiosity on both ends: teenagers interested in a very kid-less industry and fishermen, distributors, advocates, and scientists interested in having youth get involved in the industry." They explained: “The purpose of our trip is that we are collecting stories and honoring voices of people from the fishing industry; and tracing the fish from ocean to table, learning a little more about sustainability; and then [we will be] sharing that with the public.”
• Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Couldn't Lose: An oral history of Friday Night Lights (Robert Mays, Grantland, and the cast of the fabulous TV series)
Friday Night Lights TV series, based on the book by H.G. Bissinger.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston


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Stories about oral history


• Oral history becomes performance art (Connie George, The Beacon 5-4-13). Antoinette Ford founded the Double Nickels Theater Company to help older adults turn their life stories into performance art in a style called "reminiscence theatre." (Double Nickels: 55) The genre helps to connect ages and cultures through older adults’ tales of their pivotal life points.
• A convert to family history . (BBC News, A Point of View 12-2-11). The discovery of a tape recording shed light on a puzzling family photograph which was taken in 1906 - and changed historian Lisa Jardine's views about the genealogy boom. "What a thrill, then, to encounter the miracle of oral history - of having a person in front of you who was actually there."
• Digital scribes transfer ancient words into bits and bytes (Chris Windeyer, Nunatsiaq Online 1-20-10). Technology is being used to capture the traditional knowledge of elders from the Igloolik area about everything from shamanism and kinship to traditional navigation methods and hunting and sewing techniques.
• Michael Bechloss: 'Oral History Vital as Written Sources Dry Up' (Presidential historian receives society’s Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award). Rutgers press release
• Hearing Harlan County, an interview with oral historian Alessandro Portelli about his work interviewing people in Harlan County, Kentucky. Listen to Portelli's interviewing advice (American Public Radio).
• Large Scale Digitization of Oral History: A Case History (Eric Weig, Kopana Terry, and Kathryn Lybarger, University of Kentucky). Story of an analog-to-digital reformatting pilot project that explores what can be accomplished with limited funding and a large target collection--the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History: more than 6,500 interviews and 12,000 interview hours.
• Listening Is an Act of Love. Listen to radio interview with David Isay and stories from ordinary people (Storycorps Oral History Project Recording Stories) or read the transcript. Or buy the book: Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project
• Lives Connected (Peter Mayer's oral history of experience during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath--also an experiment in data visualization).
• Making Sense of Oral History (Linda Shopes's excellent overview of oral history as part of history). Part of the wonderful History Matters--U.S. Survey Course on the Web, by the American Social History Project/​ Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). See list of all History Matters resources available online.
• Modern challenges greet oral historians meeting in Little Tokyo (Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times, 4-3-11). They collect, preserve and share the voices of the past. Changes in technology could give them a far wider audience — and even more video — if that's what they want. Ethical dilemma: Do they have a right to put online for the world an interview they did sixty years ago, when only scholars would have been likely to listen to the interview or read the transcript?
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• Oral histories & interviews (Cyndi's links)
• Oral history projects dedicated to capturing and preserving survivor testimonies (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum links)
• Permanent archive for village thanks to Lottery (Rob Smyth,Burton Mail, UK 1-14-12). A village in East Staffordshire will have a permanent archive of its history and heritage thanks to a £24,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
• Script for Video or Audio Interviews with Family Members (Rootsweb)
• Secrets of a Successful Interview (Valerie Holladay, Holiday Magazine, Jan./​Feb 2005)
• StoryCorps (Every voice matters)
• Studs Terkel and oral history techniques (Chicago Historical Society's excellent links to guides to doing oral histories in the classroom)
• Teaching the Cold War Through Oral History (Donald A. Ritchie, OAH Magazine of History, Winter 1994)
• What can social media do for oral history?. Writing about social media's use to capture oral history, Jim Richardson reviews (for Museum Next) the varying approaches of StoryCorps (recording a conversation between two people who know each other), StoryVault (a UK-based site more likely to collect people's experience of history-changing events), and UK SoundMap (the British Library's attempt to map and archive the sounds of the United Kingdom, using AudioBoo. Fascinating account of the positive effect of widely available new recording techniques and letting regular people create tags for archived items.
• What questions should you ask in a video biography interview? ((Jane Lehmann-Shafron, Video Biography Central)
• YouTube video of Manny Curtis, cartoonist and Jewish war veteran (you hear his voice as you watch him cartooning)
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Further reading about oral history


• The Order Has Been Carried Out : History, Memory and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome, by Alessandro Portelli (2003).
Fascinating study of how a Nazi massacre in Rome during World War II (the Ardeatine Caves massacre, 1944) affected three generations of Romans—shedding light on the Italian Resistance movement and on the history of Rome’s working classes.
• The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History by Alessandro Portelli (1991)
• The Business of Memory – The Art of Remembering in an Age of Forgetting, ed. By Charles Baxter (1999)
• Interactive Oral History Interviewing: Essays on the interactive construction (in oral history) of understanding, interpretation, and meaning of lived experience, ed. Eva M. McMahan and Kim Lacy Rogers (2011)
• Memory and History: Essays on Recalling and Interpreting Experience ed. Jaclyn Jeffrey and Glenace Edwall (Institute for Oral History, 1994)
• Social Memory and History, Anthropological Perspectives ed. by Jacob J. Climo and Maria G. Cattell (2002).
Essays on how social memory is constructed, how memory depends on culture and context, how it transmits or contests culture, how it constructs the present and reconstructs the past.
• Oral History in Social Work: Research, Assessment, and Intervention by Ruth R. Martin (1995)

My thanks to Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner, founder of Oral History Productions, for help preparing this reading list.





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Equipment, software, tools and tutorials for interviewing, creating and editing multimedia
• Audio Tools (Transom Tools, a showcase and workshop for New Public Radio)
• The Basics (Jay Allison on recording in audio for public radio, Transom Tools)
• Teen Reporter Handbook (Radio Diaries)
• The B&H Handheld Digital Audio Recorders Buyer's Guide (Sam Mallery). Some advise going to this website, calling B&H (The Professional's Source 800.606.6969 or 212.444.6615), and letting one of their knowledgeable sales people help you decide what to buy. Another good source of audio gear: BSW (800.426.8434).
• How To Choose CD/​DVD Archival Media and Longevity of Recordable CDs and DVDs . Thanks to Dave Morrison ("Nerd in a hurry") for those links. Dave recommends not buying the cheapest blank CDs available. For a few cents more per disc, you can buy a brand that is "made to a higher standard," such as JVC/​Taiyo Yuden.
• Oral History Tutorial (Matrix, Audio-Tech, somewhat technical -- to help researchers implement several important aspects of audio technology in the field, studio, and research lab),
• Digital Oral History Workshop (Baylor University's online guide to principles in selecting and using digital equipment and software for recording, preserving, and disseminating oral history)
• BBC Advanced Audio Tips(for radio, but with applications for personal history interviewing). NEW (for students): Hands on History: A Guide to Oral History (download free PDF). The Hands on History videos appear not to be accessible in U.S. but some of the how-to-build-a-castle type instructions are.
• DIY Resource: How To Record High-Quality Sound With Your Phone (Theresa Chin, Innovation Lab, Youth Radio, 2-26-15)
• The Easiest Way to Record Phone Interviews? Have the Subject Use an iPhone to Record Themselves (Neal Augenstein, MediaShift, December 10, 2012--he's talking to journalists, but for high-quality audio on public media)
• Family Oral History Using Digital Tools. Technical whiz kid Susan Kitchens reviews equipment and, as a consultant, can help you with technical questions. Of particular use may be this series: From Digital Audio Recording to Audio CD: Part 1 - Audio into Audacity; Part 2: Making minor edits to increase sound level; Part 3: Exporting your recording to a file format that iTunes can use and creating an Audio CD and Part 4 (Dividing the audio into sections based on topics of discussion using Audacity’s Label Tracks, "to come").
• Glossary of audio terms(Atlantic Technology -- check out their Learning Center)
• Portable Digital Recorder Comparison (Transom.org, fall 2009)
• How to Find an Audio Recorder That's Right for You, part 1 (Dan Curtis, personal historian). Here's part 2
• DIY Toolkit: Fundamentals Of Field Recording (Rafael Johns and Teresa Chin, Innovation Lab, Youth Radio, 2-26-15)
• Field Recording in the Digital Age and Guide to audio recording equipment (Andy Kolovos, Vermont Folklife Center). See also his list of retired equipment, mostly analog
• Location Sound: The Basics and Beyond (Dan Brockett, on Ken Stone site, 10-21-02).
• Mindy McAdams No-Fear Guide to Multimedia Skills (with links to equipment, resources) and Part 2 of the quick-and-easy guide to audio editing
• Audio technology tutorial (Historical Voices, somewhat technical, not entirely up-to-date, but useful)
• iPhone: The Missing Manual by David Pogue (see his many "missing manual" guides to technology)
• Oral History Association on Technology
• Recording Phone Calls (Jeff Towne, 2-26-09). The excellent Transom.org (for National Public Radio) offers advice non-NPR people can use. There are reviews and advice here on Analog Phone Couplers and Hybrids, Digital Hybrids, Cell Phone Taps, Skype and Computer-based Telephony, etc. Not Advice for Dummies! Someone recommended to me the Olympus TP-7 telephone recording device ($14.95) for use with my Olympus recorder. Search for "telephone recording device" at Amazon, B&H, or other vendor sites and you'll find many options.
• How to Record Skype Conversations: Tools, Resources, Tips (Digital Inspiration 6-07-06)
• Soundslides (a rapid production tool for still image and audio Web presentations)
• Richard Hess's Media Formats and Resources (tape and magnetic media), Digital Audio resources), and his tips and notes -- pretty technical.
• Acoustic primer (this one's for listening to music)
• Capturing Analog Sound for Digital Preservation: Report of a Roundtable Discussion of Best Practices for Transferring Analog Discs and Tapes (PDF)
• Remote Recording Survival Guide (Tom Lopez, Transom.org, 6-1-02, on the equipment you'll need if traveling to record at remote locations)
• Choosing the Right Microphone:An Overview of Popular Short Shotgun, Supercardioid, Hypercardiod and Cardioid Microphones (Dan Brockett, on Ken Stone's Final Cut Pro website, 1-7-08).
• Audio In Close Up - Which Lavalier Should I Use? (Dan Brockett, Ken Stone's Final Cut Pro website, 4-7-08)
Superfast Guide to Audio Editing(Audacity) Download it and print it out.
• Audacity: download for free here (it's a free cross-platform sound editor). (Have old cassette tapes you want to transfer to your computer? You may be able to do so through Audacity, with a line cord connected from a tape player.)
• Your Inside Source . Order Larry Jordan's free monthly newsletter to learn about mastering Final Cut Studio and Digital Media. See his helpful Editing Resource Library.
• Switch Audio File Converter Software (convert or compress sound files from one format to another within minutes of downloading)
• All About Digital Audio, part 1 (Hugh Robjohns, Sound on Sound, May-Oct 1998). See part 2 (quantising and oversampling), part 3 (digital audio error detection and correction), part 4 (digital tape recording formats), part 5 (techniques and technology of disk-based recording), part 6 (plugging it all together--clocking, digital mixers, master clocks, the jitter problem).

• Audio file types (FileInfo.com -- an alphabetically organized (by extension) key to compressed and uncompressed audio formats). Here's another such list: File-extensions.org.

This is not enough? You'll find more links here:
• Mastering equipment, software, and other tools for interviewing, writing, editing, designing, and creating multimedia (Writers and Editors site)

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ORAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS ONLINE

• The ADA At 25 Oral History and Folklife Research interviewed Maine residents who were involved in the disability rights movement or impacted by it.

• American Life Histories. Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940, Library of Congress, American Memory. More than 300 writers collected 2,900 histories, in transcripts and images. These and some other collections listed here are described more fully on the History Matters website.

• Archives of American Art, Oral History Collection, Smithsonian Institution -- an amazing collection, with transcripts of interviews with many artists

• Archive of American Television (people involved in broadcast history, including TV legends.full list of interviewees.

• Baylor University Institute for Oral History (oral histories and documentaries about Texas history)

• Bellingham/​Mendon Veteran’s Oral History Project (watch or listen on YouTube) Recorded at ABMI Cable 8 Studios, Bellingham, MA. Interviewer Marjorie Turner Hollman.

• Born in Slavery (Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938)

• Bringing Them Home Oral History Project (National Library of Australia, 1998-2002). A project to collect and preserve stories of indigenous people and others (such as missionaries, police, and administrators) involved in, or affected by, the removal of aboriginal and Strait Island children from their families. (Read overview.. Listen, for example to this this interview with Alice Adams.

• British Diplomatic Oral History Programme (BDOHP) (Churchill and Thatcher Papers, Churchill College, Cambridge)

• British Library Archival Sound Records. These links to public collections include much music and such oral history items as the Millennium Memory Bank, the Opie collection of children's games and songs, interviews from the Common Cold Unit in Salisbury (1957-1990), the St Mary-le-Bow public debates, a survey of local British accents and dialects, and British Wildlife Recordings (oral history of an altogether different type). As for British Library oral history projects, not much is available for listening online, but you can track down what's available in the library or elsewhere, from their collection) and you can pay to have recordings transcribed, after you clear copyright permission.

• Chemical Heritage Foundation Oral History in Sciences (interviews with leading figures in chemistry and related fields)

• Civil Rights Mediation Oral History Project

• Coney Island Oral History Project

• Dakota Memories Oral History Project: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection (what it was like growing up second- or third-generation German-Russian on the Northern Plains, with an emphasis on childhood memories and family relationships--with video clips, etc.)

• Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project. Over 500 visual histories (more than 1,000 hours of recorded video interviews) and over 10,800 historic photos, documents, and newspapers document the Japanese American experience from immigration in the early 1900s through redress in the 1980s with a strong focus on the World War II mass incarceration

• Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement, Oral Histories Collection

• Disability Voices (British Library)

• East Midlands Oral History (several collections in the United Kingdom -- online exhibitions)

• Experiencing War (Stories from the Veterans History Project)

• Federal Writers' Project (Library of Congress, 1935-1942). Created in 1935 as part of the U.S. Work Progress Administration to provide employment for historians, teachers, writers, librarians, and other white-collar workers, this project includes American Life Histories, compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the FWP.

• Florida Voices (Florida oral history collections)

• Frontline Diplomacy (The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training)

• Generation on Fire: An Oral Histories of the 1960s and link on boingboing to PDF of chapter from Jeff Kisseloff's book on the Kent State Massacre.

• Hidden Histories (oral histories documenting the lives of ordinary people from East London--organized by Working Lives--collected by Eastside Community Heritage, an independent charity).

• The History Makers (oral history videos of about 26,000 African Americans, a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University Informedia Project). See Chip Reid, Remarkable video interviews keep history alive (Chip Reid, CBS News, 6-24-14). Library of Congress acquired the collection.

• Holocaust Museum, U.S. See U.S. Holocaust Museum, below.

• Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (stories from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma)

• IEEE Global History Network. Oral histories (for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) about technologists who changed the world, and about changes in technological companies and institutions.

• In the First Person (an index to nearly 4,000 collections of personal narratives in English from around the world--letters, diaries, oral histories, and personal narratives)

• In Their Own Words (NIH researchers recall the early years of AIDS)

• The Interview Project (film producer David Lynch's project--a new video interview every few days).

• In Their Words: AETN's WWII Oral History Project (testimony from Arkansas's WWII generation)

• Japanese American Oral History Project (University of California, Fullerton)

• JARDA: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives (Calisphere, University of California). See more resources at Calisphere

• The jobbing system of the London Stock Exchange (42 interviews, Institute of Historical Research, University of London’s School of Advanced Study)

• Kentuckiana Digital Library. The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, is a motherlode of oral histories on various subjects: African American political scientists, Bourbon in Kentucky, the Kentucky Family Farm project, From Combat to Kentucky, Frontier Nursing Service, Kentucky's Community Colleges, the Horse Industry, City Hall, the Kentucky Legislature, Kentucky Transportation Center, Peace Corps Volunteers, the Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Project, and various Kentuckian individuals of note.

• Legacy Project (oral histories of long-time employees and executives of PNC Bank)

• Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (James Leloudis and Kathryn Walbert, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) Hundreds of interviews with working-class southerners conducted by the Southern Oral History Program Piedmont Industrialization Project of the late 1970s and early 1980s, combined with other resources.

• Lives Connected (an oral history of our experiences during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath--and an experiment in data visualization)

• Listening Is an Act of Love (StoryCorps' National Oral History Project)

• The March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society)

• Marin County (California) oral histories (Anne T. Kent California Room of the Marin County Free Library, over 400 oral histories of Marin County pioneers and residents from all walks of life, from dairy ranchers to philanthropists)

• May 4 Collection (Kent State, documenting the May 1970 Kent State Shootings)

• Mountain Voices (interviews with over 300 people who live in mountain and highland regions in Mexico, Peru, Lesotho, Kenya, Ethiopia, Poland, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and China)

• National Park Service Oral History Collections. See also Park Histories (National Park Service documents). You can download "Directory of Oral History in the National Park Service" (PDF)

• The National WWII Museum, digital collection online. Fascinating interviews, searchable by branch of service and theater of war, samples from a thousands of oral histories and hundreds of thousands of photographs. Click on "hear this story" to watch and listen to videotaped interviews--for example, James Smith on fighting on Edson's Ridge/​Bloody Ridge, Guadalcanal. (If you see a Chinese, he'd be smiling. If you see a Jap, he wouldn't be smiling.)

• New York City, Ellis Island Oral Histories, 1892-1976 (searchable database, along with things like ships' passenger lists, ship images in NY ports, petitions for naturalization, etc.

• Nevada Test Site Oral History Project

• The Oakwood Project (Raleigh, North Carolina). more than 80 residents and students have participated in this oral history project, designed to capture the story of the homes in this first neighborhood in the state of North Carolina to receive “historic” designation. See Storytellers preserving rich history of Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood

• On The Line: how schooling, housing, and civil rights shaped Hartford and its suburbs ((Jack Dougherty and colleagues, a public history web-book)

• Oral Histories of the American South (Southern Oral History Program)

• Oral History Centers and Collections Oral History Association's excellent links)

• Oral History Project of the Social Security Administration (SSA)

• Patient Voices digital stories from Pilgrim Projects (stories of patients, carers, healthcare practitioners and managers)

• Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) (Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley). Rotating offerings, include oral histories about the Free Speech movement, disability rights, the Earl Warren oral history project, the medical response to the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco (1981-84).

• Prototype Online: Inventive Voices (podcast series), Lemelson Center Video and Audio clips, and Computer Oral History Collection, resources available at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation, at the the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History)

• Repositories of Primary Sources (over 5000 websites describing holdings of manuscripts, archives, rare books, historical photographs, and other primary sources for the research scholar, compiled by Terry Abraham)

• RICHES of Central Florida (Regional Initiative for Collecting the History, Experiences and Stories of Central Florida)

• Riptide: An oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present (Nieman Lab, September 2013). Three veterans of digital journalism and media — John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz, and Paul Sagan, Fellows at the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School — interviewed dozens of people who played important roles in the intersection of media and technology — from CEOs to coders, journalists to disruptors. Riptide is the result: more than 50 hours of video interviews and a narrative essay that traces the evolution of digital news from early experiments to today. It’s what really happened to the news business.

• Rutgers Oral History Archives

• Sephardic American Voices: A Jewish Oral History Project (actively collecting through 2015)

• Slavery, U.S. (University of Washington links to primary and secondary sources on)

• Sound Portraits (listen online to several StoryCorps stories)

• StoryCorps Stories

• StoryCorps Griot Project to record stories of African Americans (partner: National Museum of African American History and Culture)

• Studs Terkel, Conversation with America (listen to a master interviewer interview ordinary people and those better-known, such as Cesar Chavez)
• Feeling Tone: Bringing Studs Terkel’s Radio Archive to life (Tony Macaluso, Oral History Association, Spring 2016). He left behind 5,600 radio programs, mostly on reel-to-reel tape, when he died at the age of 96 in 2008. Read all about it.

• Suffragists Oral History Project (Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History Office)

• Telling Their Stories (oral history projects conducted by high school students, with Holocaust survivors and refugees, WWII camp liberator/​witnesses, Japanese American internees, residents of San Francisco's Fillmore District, and elders who witnessed the struggle to achieve voting rights for blacks in the 1960s) -- sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)

• Testimony (inside stories of mental health care, Mental Health Media)

• 376th Heavy Bombardment Group Oral Histories (World War II veterans based in North Africa and later in southern Italy)

• Uniuted Nations Oral History Collection (Dag Hammarskjold Library, audio files and transcripts)

• U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project (University of Texas at Austin)

• U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum "First Person" Podcast Series. See also videos of Conversations with Survivors and First Person: Conversations with Survivors

• U.S. House of Representativs

• U.S. Senate Oral History Project, which oral historian Donald Ritchie talks about in an informal oral history interview conducted by Verusca Calabria (he says, for example, that senators and their staffs do not have to promise secrecy about what goes on behind the scenes in the Senate.

• Veterans History Project (huge collection of personal accounts of American war veterans, collected, preserved, and made accessible so future generations will know the realities of war, from World War I through current conflicts)

• VHP's links to other oral history sites about war-related experiences of veterans and civilians

• Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace (excerpts edited by Maxine Hong Kingston)

• Voices of Civil Rights

• Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Women's History Archives at Smith College)

• Voices of the First Coast (oral histories from Northeast Florida)

• Voices of the Holocaust (British Library collection)

• The West Point Center for Oral History (stories of the American soldier, in war and peace, in development)

• What Did You Do in the War, Grandma? (Rhode Island women during World War II)

• Wexler Oral History Project (Yiddish Book Center)
Video interviews with 450 people of all ages and backgrounds: bobes and zeydes from the Old Country, American-born students, world-renowned musicians, actors, and cultural activists, and descendants of Yiddish writers. Browse full-length interviews by narrator's last name.. Check out Leonard Nimoy explaining origin of Vulcan greeting (video, posted on NY Times).

• Witness to War: Preserving the Oral Histories of Combat Veterans

• Women of Four Wars (Veterans History Project)

• Women in Journalism (Washington Press Club Foundation Oral History Project, initiated by National Women's Press Club)

• World Bank Group oral histories, part of a larger World Bank Group archives

• World War I Document Archive

• World War II Submarine Veterans History Project (California Center for Military History)

• You'll find more projects to look up in this list of Oral History Association award winners.

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Organizations for Oral Historians


• Association of Personal Historians (APH (oral historians helping ordinary people tell their stories)
http:/​/​www.personalhistorians.org
• Columbia Center for Oral History
(formerly The Oral History Research Office at Columbia University
https:/​/​blogs.cul.columbia.edu/​ohro/​
• The Healing Story Alliance
http:/​/​www.healingstory.org/​
• Oral History Association of Canada
http:/​/​www.canoha.ca/​
• Oral History Association, Australia
http:/​/​www.ohaansw.org.au/​
• Oral History Society, UK
http:/​/​www.oralhistory.org.uk/​
• Narrative Medicine Program (Columbia University)
http:/​/​www.narrativemedicine.org/​
• U.S. Regional and International History Associations
http:/​/​www.oralhistory.org/​about/​regional-organizations/​
• International oral history links (Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner, Oral History Productions)

Places where oral historians gather and chat:
• H-Oralhist is a network and listserv of people interested in oral history--mostly scholars and professionals active in studies related to oral history. Messages (full of interesting info) are readable to nonmembers. You'll find links to other resources at the main Oral History Association site and on the OHA Wiki pages.
• Oral History Noticeboard (UK based, interesting, and livelier in format than the OHA site)
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Books to help you get started
writing your own (or someone else's) life story)


Booklists on these topics:
Writing Personal and Family Histories
Memoir Writing As Discovery
Memoirs, Healing, and Self-Understanding
Writing from Memory Prompts
Anthologies of Life Story Writing and Reminiscence
The Art and Craft of Memoir and Biography
Books for Life Story or Reminiscence Groups


Writing Personal and Family Histories (a booklist)


These are books for people who (generally) do not see themselves as writers but want to write something about their life or their family.

• Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read by Dawn and Morris Thurston. Advice and examples on “showing” rather than "telling," creating credible interesting characters and settings, writing from the gut, alternating scene and narrative, and generating suspense.

• For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History by Charley Kempthorne. Charley’s wise, loveable, encouraging personal style and long practical experience make this a good book to give to someone you want to encourage, if only to write for the family. He makes it all seem human and doable. “The facts, or at least the important facts, of mom and dad’s marriage were not where and when it took place but what they made of it.”

• The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing: How to Transform Memories Into Meaningful Stories by Sharon Lippincott. A personal historian's "roll-up-your-sleeves" guide to writing and publishing your own (or someone else's) memoirs or autobiography.

• Keeping Family Stories Alive: Discovering and Recording the Stories and Reflections of a Lifetime by Vera Rosenbluth. Interviewing and recording techniques helpful for family histories.

• Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence. A very popular guide for doing oral histories and personal and family histories, with memory prompts that encourage storytelling more than fact-finding: What were you like as a child? What did you think? What did you do? Organized by topic, from earliest memories, school life, young adulthood, marriage, children, grandchildren, through later life.

• Memoirs of the Soul: A Writing Guide by Nan Merrick Phifer. An excellent how-to guide, and not just about the spiritual you. "Phifer urges amateur writers to write of the inner life, or times of joy or crisis or profound contentment."--Library Journal, which highly recommends it for public libraries.

• Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance with Our Mothers (Joan Potter, Susan Hodara, Vicki Addesso, and Lori Toppe). Months after forming a writers group, four women from very different backgrounds found themselves unexpectedly writing about their mothers. In the process, not only did their understanding of one another deepen, but their perceptions of their mothers were transformed.

• The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories,and Meaning of Your Life by Carol Franco and Kent Lineback. Moving from facts to memories to meaning, this book takes you through the seven stages of life: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood (roughly 20-30), adulthood (roughly 30-45), middle adulthood (roughly 45-60), late adulthood (roughly 60-80), elder (roughly 80 onward). Fairly sophisticated writing prompts, and examples from fine writers, invite you to recall forgotten moments and discover their significance.

• Living Legacies: How to Write, Illustrate, and Share Your Life Stories by Duane Elgin, Colleen Ledrew. Emphasizes illustrating your stories with photographs, memorabilia, and other images (including digital format).

• The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith. Get the gist of this slim book from her interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation: 'Memoir Project' Gives Tips For Telling Your Story. From the opening pages: "There is an old saying that most men would rather have you hear their story than grant their wish."

• Start & Run a Personal History Business: Get Paid to Research Family Ancestry and Write Memoirs by Jennifer Campbell. How to make money doing something you love. Members of the Association of Personal Historians can also purchase four special toolkits for personal historians: 1) Get Your Personal History Business Up and Running; 2) The Interview: Record and Develop the Story; 3) Products and Services; 4) Marketing: APH Members Share Ideas That Work.

• Story Bridges: A Guide for Conducting Intergenerational Oral History Projects by Angela Zusman. A concept and a process. Download an excerpt (PDF) from the Left Coast Press site, clicking on "download excerpt" beneath book image.

• Turning Memories into Memoirs: A Handbook for Writing Lifestories by Denis Ledoux. Workshop in a book, encouraging nonwriters to write their own stories, by a founding member of APH.

• You Can Write Your Family History by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, who, starting from a genealogy base, offers tips on how to bring characters and social history to life and present stories about people on the family tree.
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Memoir Writing As Discovery (a booklist)


• Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton. A slim, well-written book focused on the slice-of-life memoir. Norton encourages you to find "memory pictures," find your voice and the heart of your story, identify one potent period of your life, and “explore it through vivid imagery, honest voice, stunning compassion, and a deep awareness of the larger issues at play that guide your story in a subliminal way—myth, metaphor, and current issues of the day.”

• Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story by Christina Baldwin. Says Baldwin (whose workshops are inspirational): “Our life story is our constant companion, the litany that guides our every move and thought. So we need to make our lives a story we can live with, because we live the life our story makes possible.” She encourages storytelling to build community, webs of connection, bridges to understanding, using the “voice of story” to call us to remember our true selves.

• Citizens of the Dream: 41 Good, Serious, Smart Answers to your Questions about Writing, Painting, Playing, Acting and Living the Creative Life by Cary Tennis

• White Gloves: How We Create Ourselves Through Memory by John Kotre. Interesting insights--for example, "what we believe we accurately remember often has been reconstructed, as when an event that initially evoked fear and anger is later recalled as a hilarious adventure" (Booklist review). A more recent book by Kotre: Make It Count: How to Generate a Legacy That Gives Meaning to Your Life

• Writing from Life: Telling Your Soul’s Story by Susan Wittig Albert. Albert (founder of Story Circle Network) encourages women to discover their voices and grow spiritually by putting their stories into words. Her guide invites women on a voyage of self-discovery, by exploring eight thematic clusters: beginnings and birthings; achievements, gifts and glories; female bodies; loves, lovers, lovings; journeys and journeying; homes and homings; visits to the Valley of Shadows; and experiences of community. She also explains how to form women’s Story Circles.

• Writing Life Stories: How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays And Life Into Literature by Bill Roorbach. Intelligent commentary and exercises to help you access memories and emotions, shape scenes, develop plot lines, populate life story with "characters," and bring depth to your memoir or personal essay.

• Writing Your Life: A Journey of Discovery by Patti Miller. A helpful companion for structuring book-length life writing, with wise counsel on remembering (and selective memory), emotional healing, finding one's voice, choosing details, creating drama, and imposing structure. Australian writer, but the book seems easily available online. By the same author: The Memoir Book, which one writing student said was exactly what she needed to get going on her memoirs.

• Your Life as Story: Discovering the "New Autobiography" and Writing Memoir as Literature by Tristine Rainer. This highly recommended guide, full of exercises, asks you to think about your life and about how best to write a life story. Some object to her de-emphasis on historical accuracy, but many praise her for her handling of such topics as story structure (how best to organize the story of your life), how to handle the passage of time, and the ethical problems of writing about family and friends.
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• Another Morning: Voices of Truth and Hope from Mothers with Cancer by Linda Blachman. A book for parents challenged by serious illness, to help and inspire them to leave stories and messages for the children who will survive them.

• The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities by Pat McNees (Journal of Geriatric Care Management, Spring 2009). Get PDF file of journal article here (61.9KB)

• Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss by Jessica Handler (author of the memoir Invisible Sisters, about being the "well sibling" of two younger sisters who die)

• Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir by Sue Williams Silverman. In addition to covering traditional writing topics well, Silverman encourages writers to transform their life story into words that matter. She advocates finding the courage to speak truth about issues on which others might prefer silence. Her own confessional memoirs are about incest (Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You) and sexual addiction (Love Sick).

• The Healing Art of Storytelling by Richard Stone. This classic and insight-provoking guide to finding coherent narratives in our life experiences, recently out of print, is now available again. Not about memoir but about understanding the storylines of our lives.

• Living to Tell the Tale: A Guide to Writing Memoir by Jane Taylor McDonnell. In this little book, McDonnell focuses here on how to write "crisis memoirs," finding "our own meaningfulness, even in the midst of sadness and disappointment." In addition to teaching a related college course ("Witness Narratives: Memoirs of Survival"), she has written about life with her autistic son and about her own problems with alcoholism.

• Narrative Medicine by Rita Charon. The idea behind the field of narrative medicine, which Charon helped create, is that the doctor's job is to listen and by hearing the patient's story to know the patient more fully than numbers on a chart can convey. You'll find more resources on narrative medicine here, including books by Arthur Kleinman, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, and Arthur Frank.

• The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story by Linda Joy Myers. Step-by-step memoir writing, with healing from emotional pain as a goal; full of interesting psychological insights.

• Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By by Timothy D. Wilson. I found this book through an excellent story on the topic: Writing Your Way to Happiness by Tara Parker-Pope (Well blog, NY Times, 1-19-15)

• The Story of Your Life: Becoming the Author of Your Experience by Mandy Aftel. Geared more to self-understanding than to memoir writing, this book is still useful for life writing. Focusing on what Aftel calls the three major life plots (love, mastery, and loss), she provokes reflection on things like How Money Complicates the Love Plot, How Children Complicate the Marriage Subplot, and How Escape Complicates the Mastery Plot.

• Writing and Healing: “The Best Therapy I’ve Had” (Sharon Lippincott's article about how a memoir writing class helped recovery from a brain injury, Women's Memoirs 6-26-11)

• Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives by Louise DeSalvo. Cautioning that writing is no substitute for medical care, DeSalvo (who wrote about her own pain, anxiety, and depression in Vertigo: A Memoir) recommends writing five pages a week, uncensored, in spare moments, reporting every detail, to speed healing -- and sharing with other empathetic writers, to sharpen narrative. She refers often to James W. Pennebaker's Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, based on his 10 years of clinical research. "Dr. Pennebaker has demonstrated that expressing emotions appears to protect the body against damaging internal stresses and seems to have long-term health benefit," wrote Daniel Goleman, in the NY Times.

• Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Own Story (Ron Capps, CreateSpace). Written by a veteran for veterans, it details the elements of craft involved in writing both fiction and non-fiction. The Veterans Writing Project uses the book in its co-cost seminar and workshops for members of the armed forces, active and reserve, who want to learn about writing in order to tell their stories.

Two articles by Randy Dotinga:
• Does writing a memoir help an author to heal? (Christian Science Monitor, 5-15-15) Three writers (Darin Strauss, Lizzie Stark, and Jennifer Finney Boylan) share their thoughts and concerns about sharing deeply personal secrets in a memoir.
• Trio of authors recall how they investigated dark family secrets (CSM, 5-13-14) Three writers – Emma Brockes, author of 'She Left Me the Gun'; David Berg, author of 'Run Brother Run'; and Michael Hainey, author of 'After Visiting Friends' – all investigated dark areas from their families' pasts.

• Memoirs of illness, crisis, disability, differentness, and survival (a reading list)


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Writing from Memory Prompts (a booklist)


Those for whom writing seems a daunting task can often respond to simple, straightforward, or inspirational memory prompts. Books featuring such prompts vary greatly in the style of prompts (from simple fact-finding questions to prompts that probe for emotional memories to prompts that liberate the imagination).

• Telling the Stories of Life through Guided Autobiography Groups by James E. Birren & Kathryn N. Cochran. Provides sensitizing questions which help participants write on life themes (as opposed to life stages): Branching points. Family. Money. Work. Health and body. Sexual identity. Experiences with and about death. Your spiritual life and values. Your goals and aspirations.

• Writing Your Legacy: The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story by Richard Campbell and Cheryl Swensson. More themes for Guided Autobiography groups.

• Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg author of the popular Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Message: Put pen to paper and write as fast as you can for ten minutes, in “writing ‘sprints’ that train the hand and mind to quicken their pace and give up conscious control.” For those having trouble getting started.

• The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories,and Meaning of Your Life by Carol Franco and Kent Lineback. Moving from facts to memories to meaning, this book takes you through the seven stages of life: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood (roughly 20-30), adulthood (roughly 30-45), middle adulthood (roughly 45-60), late adulthood (roughly 60-80), elder (roughly 80 onward). Fairly sophisticated writing prompts, and examples from fine writers, invite you to recall forgotten moments and discover their significance.

• Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence. A very popular guide for doing oral histories and personal and family histories, with memory prompts that encourage storytelling more than fact-finding: What were you like as a child? What did you think? What did you do? Organized by topic, from earliest memories, school life, young adulthood, marriage, children, grandchildren, through later life.

• Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas. A tiny volume of writing prompts which encourage writer to write brief bits, coming at your life at an angle, through the "side door," as she does in her slim, fine memoirs (A Three Dog Life (about caring for her husband after a hit-and-run accident shatters his skull) and Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life show how vignettes and snippets artfully arranged can convey the arc of a changing relationship, or relationships.

• To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come by Bob Greene. A small book of writing prompts for oral or written family histories -- one of the first of its kind.

• Writing Your Life: An Easy-to-Follow Guide to Writing an Autobiography by Mary Borg. A slim, spiral-bound, illustrated, easy-to-maneuver workbook (good for senior centers) with questions and memory joggers to tease out a life story, and excerpts from real autobiographies.

• You Are Next In Line: Everyone's Guide for Writing Your Autobiography by Armiger Jagoe. A slim, very simple do-it-yourself guide with brief extracts from famous life stories to illustrate broad themes: In the Beginning, Family Affairs, First Home, Early Years, Grown Up, Adult Life, Special People, Humor, Important Events and Life Passages.

• Life's Little Writing Prompts (online, Story Circle Network writing prompts)

• Women's Memoirs writing prompts (online; click on "previous entries" at bottom to find earlier entries)

Anthologies of life story writing and reminiscence


• My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History ed. by Paula Stallings Yost and Pat McNees, with a foreword by Rick Bragg, a great gift for that person whose life stories should be recorded or told but who keeps saying, "Who cares what happened in my life?" Read excerpts here and order here to order directly from APH. Backstories about the process of getting the stories into print will be of particular interest to those who want to help others tell their life stories. "At last, a collection that shows the 'why, what, and how' behind memoir as legacy." ~ Susan Wittig Albert, author of WRITING FROM LIFE, founder of Story Circle Network

• Pulse: Voices From the Heart of Medicine - The First Year, ed. Paul Gross and Diane Guernsey (excellent essays, poems and short narratives from the hearts and in the voices of patients and their health care providers, from the online magazine Pulse)

• Listening Is an Act of Love, edited by Dave Isay (stories about home and family, work and dedication, journeys, history and struggle, and 9/​11), from the StoryCorps Project. Second in the series: Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps. (Listen to Isay on moms on NPR's Democracy Now:“Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps".

• Born Before Plastic: Stories from Boston’s Most Enduring Neighborhoods(Vol. 1: North End, Roxbury, and South Boston) and My Legacy Is Simply This (Vol. 2: Charlestown, Chinatown, East Boston, and Mattapan), from Grub Street’s Memoir Project (giving seniors a chance to turn their memories into published narratives).

• Not Quite What I Was Planning, NPR's delightful slideshow of images and text from the book Not Quite What I Was Planning:Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Rachel Fershleisher and Larry Smith, based on the six-word memoirs of the storytelling magazine Smith.
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The Art and Craft of Memoir and Biography (a booklist)


• The Art of Time in Memoir (Then, Again) by Sven Birkerts. The great memoirists often break the rules, especially about mixing present and past tense. “Apart from whatever painful or disturbing events they recount, their deeper ulterior purpose is to discover the nonsequential connections that allow those experiences to make larger sense; they are about circumstance becoming meaningful when seen from a certain remove.”

• Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition Within a Tradition by Joanne Braxton

• The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson. A delightful account of how those final stories get told.

• Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography ed. William Zinsser. Thoughtful talks (and biography shop talk) by Robert A. Caro, David McCullough, Paul C. Nagel, Richard B. Sewall, Ronald Steel, and Jean Strouse.

• How To Do Biography: A Primer by Nigel Hamilton (a brief interpretive history of life stories, or at one reviewer called it, "a zesty romp through millennia of biographical portraits" -- not really a "how to" book)

• I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory by Patricia Hampl. Explores the act of memoir-making, the tension between memory and forgetting (inventiveness as part of the search for emotional truth), the art of storytelling, and the value of the first draft, as a mystery dropping clues about the narrator's feelings.

• Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir , ed. William Zinsser. Excellent talks by Russell Baker, Annie Dillard, Alfred Kazin, Toni Morrison, and Lewis Thomas.

• Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay by Lara Adair. Helpful especially for memoirists who want to craft personal essays--by a popular columnist and writing coach/​instructor.

• Writing a Book That Makes a Difference by Philip Gerard. Though not geared to memoir-writing, Gerard presents insights and examples that could help elevate your memoir above a string of anecdotal memories.

• Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past by William Zinsser. Using his own story as an example, this expert on writing well shows how to be selective in choosing the stories to tell and the details to use.

• Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art by Judith Barrington. Memoir-writing basics (present vs. past tense, first vs. third person, balancing the needs for accuracy and good storytelling, etc.)
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BOOKS FOR LIFE STORY WRITING OR REMINISCENCE GROUPS


Reminiscence and life review, especially guided by someone who knows how to make the most of the experience, is an important developmental phase, in which we older adults take stock of our lives and, with luck, begin to see both pleasant and unpleasant memories as part of what shaped our identity. With aging, retirement, divorce, widowhood, and separation from our children, we lose roles we once played and may experience less sense of identity and self-worth. Life review, however done, can be therapeutic, and in groups, under a masterful leader, can also be enormous fun. Good groups bond. Creative juices flow. Hearing each other's stories brings back our own often forgotten memories, good and bad, which in the presence of sympathetic others can be healing.

Two books I have found particularly useful and interesting in terms of how to run such a group (including how to deal with disruptive, self-absorbed, or shy participants):

• Birren, James E. and Donna E. Deutchman, Guiding Autobiography Groups for Older Adults: Exploring the Fabric of Life. Writing about your life two pages at a time. Provides questions (as writing prompts) on different themes, transitions: On the major branching points in your life, on family, on major life work and career, on the role of money in one's life, on health and body image, on sex roles and sexual experiences, on experiences with and ideas about death, on loves and hates, on the meaning of life (aspirations and goals), on the role of music, art, or literature in your life, and on your experiences with stress. Participants in GAB groups write a two-page story each week, on one of these themes. (I took the online training for GAB instructors in Birren's approach, when Cheryl Svensson and Anita Reyes were offering it together. The ten-week session really gave me a sense how the process works and was a great place to start. They aren't offering it together anymore. You can watch-listen online to the late Birren's lecture Psychological Development Through Autobiography .

• Kaminsky, Marc, ed. The Uses of Reminiscence: New Ways of Working with Older Adults. Interesting reading even if you don't plan to lead a reminiscence group for elders, and useful if you do.

You may also find these books helpful:

• Schneider, Pat. Writing Alone and With Others (an update of The Writer as an Artist, by the founder of the Amherst Writers and Artists Press and workshop method in Amherst, Massachusetts)

• Transformational Reminiscence: Life Story Work, by John A. Kunz, Florence Gray Soltys, and others, provides professional insight into the process of helping older adults with reminiscence and life review.

• Forget Memory:Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia, by Anne Davis Basting. A powerful antidote to the notion that memory loss = loss of identity, and a reminder that people with dementia lead better lives when they can express themselves and feel heard. You need better ways to help them than asking questions that require a good memory to respond.

Anecdote (Australia, "Putting stories to work") offers a free download of Ultimate Guide to Anecdote Circles (PDF, a practical guide to facilitating storytelling and story listening). 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.

• Teaching Life Writing Texts, ed. Miriam Fuchs, Craig Howes. A new book that looks useful only for academic courses where the focus is STUDYING life writing.






• Our story, in the hands of a pro (Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post Metro section, 12-10-13) "A growing number of families are turning to professionals to record their family stories, employing “personal historians” to sit and ask the open-ended questions they don’t have time to ask during the rush of holiday gatherings or the sporadic bursts of long-distance communication....Personal historians tend to focus on documenting the stories of living relatives before they are lost.

Want to become a personal historian, helping others tell their life (or family) stories? Pick up a copy of Start & Run a Personal History Business: Get Paid to Research Family Ancestry and Write Memoirs by Jennifer Campbell. Jennifer is active in the Association of Personal Historians. Members of APH can also purchase four special toolkits for personal historians: 1) Get Your Personal History Business Up and Running; 2) The Interview: Record and Develop the Story; 3) Products and Services; 4) Marketing: APH Members Share Ideas That Work (I found the 4th toolkit, on marketing, the most helpful.)

Anyone can attend APH's annual conference, usually held in October, sometimes November. It's a floating conference, changing sites (and sides of the country) regularly for APH's broad membership. I was president for a couple of years.

As co-editor, with Paula Stallings Yost, of My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History, with a foreword by Rick Bragg, I'm biased, but this is a great gift for that person whose life stories should be recorded or told but who keeps saying, "Who cares what happened in my life?" Read excerpts here and order here to order directly from APH, or here to order from Amazon (we get a small commission). Backstories about the process of getting the stories into print will be helpful if you want to help others tell their life stories. "At last, a collection that shows the 'why, what, and how' behind memoir as legacy." ~ Susan Wittig Albert, author of Writing from Life and founder of Story Circle Network.

Anecdote (Australia, "Putting stories to work") offers a free download of Ultimate Guide to Anecdote Circles (PDF, a practical guide to facilitating storytelling and story listening). 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.

Selection from
STARTING OVER
by Herman Sheets with Pat McNees


"Although Oskar [Kraus] was one of the more famous members of the family, my grandmother continued to think of him as her idealistic and impractical younger brother, always in need of her unsolicited advice. As I recall, she summed up his friends, efforts, and accomplishments like this: “First Oskar gets interested in and spends most of his career writing about Brentano. He could have picked someone noncontroversial to spend his time on, but no, he has to pick Brentano, the only professor to ever be expelled from the University of Vienna. And why was Brentano expelled? Because in 1894 he decided to argue that the Pope was not ‘infallible,’ a remarkably stupid thing to do in Vienna, the self-appointed capital of the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire.

“Next, what does Oskar get involved in? He supports hiring at the University of Prague some controversial civil servant from the Swiss Patent Office who isn’t even a lawyer. This Einstein wants to change all the laws of physics! First of all, no one understands anything he talks about. Everyone knows about Newton and the apple, how does he refute that? I don’t even think Oskar believes what Einstein is saying.

“Then Oskar gets involved with all those Czechoslovak nationalists. You know, like that former professor, TomᚠMasaryk, and his like-minded friends. The fact that both Masaryk and Oskar studied in Vienna with that expelled Professor Brentano clearly indicates that they have no practical sense. Also, anyone with any sense knows that the biggest tragedy of the Great War was the break-up of the Austrian Empire into all these silly little countries with no history and no culture!

“And as for his friend Albert Schweitzer, well at least he is not controversial. He has a lot of degrees and is well intentioned, but, like Oskar, has no practical sense. He is off in Africa so no one has any idea what he is doing or who he is.

“And finally, Oskar makes friends with Bertrand Russell in England. What good is a friend like him? He’s the most controversial person in the universe. What can you say about a mathematician who thinks he is a philosopher?”

~From Chapter 1, “Life in Germany and Czechoslovakia.”
Click here to order STARTING OVER


BACK JACKET COPY:
Hermann Chitz's life, which began quietly in 1908 in the Kingdom of Saxony, was to span a century and two continents. He escaped to America from Hitler's Europe; his parents, assimilated Jews, stayed behind. With a Prague doctorate and patent in hand, he landed in New York in 1939, and changed his name—starting over as Herman Sheets. In wartime he worked on critical aspects of the atomic bomb that would end the Second World War. In peacetime he directed research and development for Electric Boat's nuclear submarine program. At the peak of his career, in a single year, his wife died unexpectedly and he was fired for displeasing Admiral Hyman Rickover. As a single parent, with three of his six children still at home, he started his career over again in the University of Rhode Island. Not until his own children were educated and launched did he remarry and take on an expanded family. This is the remarkable story of an immigrant, inventor, ocean engineer, technical consultant, and family man who consistently turned difficult transition into new beginnings. center>From Chapter 1, “Life in Germany and Czechoslovakia.”
Click here to order STARTING OVER

SELECTIONS FROM THE MEMOIRS OF DR. THOMAS McNAIR SCOTT
the late Philadelphia pediatrician-researcher-educator


Following are extracts from My Century by the late pediatrician, medical educator, and medical researcher Thomas McNair Scott (reprinted here by permission):

"Delivering babies in the poor parts of Dublin was quite an experience. You went into the room, drove out the chickens, and delivered the baby. Very often the new father would ply you with whiskey. I managed to escape the whiskey. On the first delivery I made, instead of a baby I found a rare condition called a hydaditiform mole, a cancer of the placenta. I was very proud that I recognized it and called the hospital for help."

***

"My fellowship at the Thorndike was to end in June of 1931, but in the spring of that year the recently founded American Pediatric Society held its annual meeting in Atlantic City. Child care as a separate discipline was introduced to America in the mid 19th century by Abraham Jacoby, a German doctor, practicing in New York. Noting the poor care that children were receiving, Jacoby had made the care of children the basis of his practice, initiating such things as pasteurization of milk and immunizations. He must have taught other doctors to follow his example for he was appointed professor of child health at the New York College of Medicine in 1861. From this beginning arose the group of doctors who became pediatricians, but the first pediatric organization in the United States, the American Pediatric Society, wasn't founded until 1928. I had enjoyed my six months' training in child health at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London very much so I decided to go to Atlantic City to attend the pediatric meeting. I traveled down from Boston by train, more than an eight hour journey. While at the meeting, I fell in with some students from Johns Hopkins and, seizing the opportunity, I asked them if I could hitch a ride with them to Baltimore. Thus it was that I took part in the discussion of cases at the weekly 'Grand Rounds' with Dr. Edwards A. Park, one of the country's leading pediatricians.

"Shortly after I returned to Boston, I received a letter from Dr. Park, asking if I would be interested in a job as the resident in the pediatric outpatient department. It seems that the resident he'd chosen for Outpatient care had come down with tuberculosis and had been sent to a sanitarium. I quickly replied to him that I was very interested but that I had had only six months' experience in pediatrics. He took me anyway."

***


"Medical knowledge and treatments have changed since the days I was a resident at Hopkins. When I entered pediatrics, for example, the standard of medical care called for treating cases of infants with pneumonia by bundling them up and sending them with devoted nurses to sleep in the fresh air on the roof. Also, at that time, many children had mastoiditis from middle-ear disease, which then required emergency surgical intervention, mastoidectomy. Now both of these diseases are treated, and indeed prevented, with antibiotics, but in those days there were no antibiotics.

"There was a real resistance to change when I was in training. Medicine had a nihilist mind set. While Fleming had discovered penicillin in 1927, and had shown that it killed bacteria in the petri dish, nobody in clinical medicine had taken notice of it. Although Salvarsan, an arsenical, had been shown to cure syphilis in 1903, no other advances were made in the control of infectious diseases until 1935, when Domack discovered Sulfanilimide with its powerful therapeutic antimicrobial action. Then, with the Second World War coming on, clinical medicine rediscovered penicillin and Flory initiated full scale production of the antibiotic, which became available for U.S. Army use only, in the early 1940s. The Army used it to cure syphilis, which was prevalent during the war. After the war, penicillin became widely used and the mindset changed.

"Attitudes toward pediatric patients have also changed. In the 1930s, when I was a resident, children were kept in the hospital for a very long time, to get over whatever illness they had. Their parents were rarely allowed to visit, only once a month, for fear they would introduce infection into the hospital. In addition, in a study of hospitalized infants who were cared for in every way except that they weren't held, most of those babies failed to thrive and many of them died. That study called attention to the importance of touching and love in the care of infants. In the 1950s, a knowledgeable psychiatrist at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, John Rose, realized that strict visiting rules were a mistake. Thinking that the nurses might object to any change in their routines, he persuaded them to try parental visiting three days a week. The nurses, soon realizing how much more quickly the children recovered, and how much burden having the parents there took off them, came to Dr Rose and asked, "Can't we have it every day?" This major change was not recognized as a real therapeutic advance at the time, and Rose died of complications from diabetes shortly after daily visits became routine at the Children's Hospital. But in my mind, this was a major advance in child care, which subsequently has became standard practice through out most of the world.

"We often discovered things as we worked. Cardiologist Helen Taussig, for example, ran the cardiac clinic for Dr. Park. She saw numerous babies with Tetralogy of Fallot, who were blue at birth for lack of oxygen, because their veins and arteries were transposed. She suggested that if one could surgically switch the vein and artery, these 'blue babies' could be saved. Dr. Blalock, a surgeon at Hopkins, was persuaded to try this operation. It was successful, and the baby being operated on turned from blue to pink. This procedure, the Blalock-Taussig operation, introduced cardiac surgery for babies and Dr. Taussig became known as the blue-baby doctor."
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OBITUARIES AND OBIT WRITING


• Alt.obituaries ("notices of dead folks"), an online group for obituary lovers

• Obituary Forum (blog for the Society of Professional Obituary Writers (and fans)

• The Late Show with Gordon Pinsent (an unconventional take on the art of the obit — CBC radio documentaries of a range of Canadians, from a street kid with dwarfism to an elderly man obsessed with sailing through the Northwest Passage)

• The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, a delightful book by Marilyn Johnson, whose website is here.

• Society of Professional Obituary Writers administered by Alana Baranick, author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers

• Obituary search engines and indexes at libraries, universities, and societies (Ancestor Hunt's obituary search portal)

• Links to obituary sites for over 800 newspapers in North America, Europe, and Australia

• Obit Magazine (good reading online, for those who want more on the subject, including exemplary obits!)

• Good Bye! (the late Journal of Contemporary Obituaries (archives 1996-2002)

• Adam Bernstein on the difference between British and American obits and a link to the Telegraph (U.K.) obit page, with its distinctive obit style

• Post Mortem (a Washington Post blog about "the end of the story") and an Editor & Publisher story about Post Mortum: 'Washington Post' Obit Blog Creates Death Stars.

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Books, articles, and more

Writing or telling life stories
Everyone has a story to tell. What's keeping you from telling yours? Become a storykeeper or personal historian or find one.
Read aloud at a memorial service decades later
A loving testament, or legacy letter, sharing your life experiences and lessons with the next generation
Learn to write articles, reports, ethical wills, or life stories (memoirs and beyond).
Mom — hardworking, sassy, and full of surprises
Mutual support and discussion
Social history through the life of an ordinary Midwestern businessman.
Dancing, food, good books, and other diversions
Favorites of several book groups
What is the single lunch-bag item most hated by all children?
What heightens the caviar experience is the price of those little gray or black sturgeon eggs.
Links to dancing venues and calendars for the Washington, D.C. area.
Midlife "first dates"
Did she fall in love with the man or the waltz?
Also related: jive, hustle, hand-dancing.
All the dancing your feet can take
Choosing a school of dance
Contra, English country, international, Irish, Israeli, Scandinavian, Scottish
The big ones, with dirty stems
"A rich, varied, and highly rewarding collection," says Joyce Carol Oates
Ceilis (Irish dancing)
Medical mysteries, patient stories, and practical links
John Travolta played the boy in the movie. The real story ended far differently.
Thin little Marian had a cholesterol problem most people have never heard of.
You've probably never heard of this national research hospital and clinic. But someone you know may be able to benefit from it directly and all of us do, indirectly.
Understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the debate on health care reform. Avoiding medical errors
Dying, mourning, and other inevitable events
"This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many find the potential of growth through loss." --Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
For those dying, for caregivers, and for the bereaved
Listen to samples of popular songs and music
Girls and science
Cool science sites
Best practices for teaching science--to strengthen the science workforce.
Some links and a selection
Practical matters
Identify children's learning styles and improve their ability to learn.
Six weeks to hassle-free homework.
Why parents should be concerned.
Public speaking is a craft, not an art. It can be learned.
Can you wash it if it says "dry clean"?
Fact vs. fantasy
One woman's story.
Don't focus on the fabric.
Organizational histories
A frank history of the Young Presidents' Organization.
The little lift truck that could — a story of brilliant marketing in America's heartland.
Online Shopping
Best places to shop online