Memoirist for Elders Shows the Way

Memoirist Mary O’Brien Tyrrell is one to watch. She launched Memoirs, Inc. in 1994, coining the term “memoirist” to describe her work with elders’ stories. Ever since, she’s been contributing to the professional advancement of personal historians. Mary came to...

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Make Family History a ‘Treasure Hunt’ for Kids

Family history is one of the most popular hobbies among American adults today. Most amateur genealogists regret that they didn’t start earlier, “when Grandpa was still alive” or “before Mom’s memory began to fail.” They worry that their careful research will go...

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Dealing with Quibbling Siblings in a Life Story

Family arguments. Every family has them. Some simmer beneath the surface for years, some grow into shouting matches. Most are handled in a mature manner. But not all, as evidenced by a recent article in Huff Post “Post 50” about a family that took their quarrels all the way to the...

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Every Story Needs a Good Backstory. Here’s Why.

This photo of typical teens in the 1950s could illustrate a fairly straightforward story. If you lived in that time, it’s all pretty obvious to you. But would younger readers see it that way? If this were a scene and a story from YOUR personal history, would the story benefit from a...

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Life Story + “Backstory” = Very Powerful Personal History

In her machine gun-sprayed synagogue in Grodno, Poland, Dora Russek was with family members about to be transported to a place they knew would be the end of them. They had seen enough deaths in the Grodno ghetto and heard rumors about Nazi death camps to know they weren’t likely to return....

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Is History Only in Our Textbooks?

Is history something that happened only if we read about it in a textbook? And conversely, if something is not in a textbook, does that mean it didn’t happen? What if you read about it in a family-history story or see it in a video… as my client’s daughter did. Last summer, my...

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How Many Lives Are in One Life Story?

This morning I was reading a review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review of the book, The Lives of Margaret Fuller, by John Matteson. I didn’t at first notice that he used the word “Lives” in the title, rather than “The Life,” but then I came across this...

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Helping “Succinct” Narrators Tell a Richer Story

What do you do when the person whose story you’re trying to collect isn’t much of a storyteller? A recent discussion on the APH Listserv mailing list (available only to our members) provided some strategies to encourage the “succinct” to share more of their feelings, and...

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