The Not-So-Personal Side of Personal History

Think Personal History is just about grandma’s stories? Think again. Businesses have stories to tell, and these days those “how we accomplished this” stories are more important than ever, says Jennifer Wang, writing for Entrepreneur magazine. “Corporate-weary consumers care...

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Who Benefits From a Personal History? You Do!

A life story is meaningful to the narrator and to friends and family who will enjoy reading it, now and for years to come. But the personal historian who helps save the story gets much out of the arrangement too—and often, clients turn into friends. APH member Libby Atwater, who owns...

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Remembering Mother

Peter Savigny's mother died the year Peter's son was born. When his son asked him about his grandmother — Peter's mother — Peter created a photo montage and provided narration in the form of a eulogy.

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30-Year-Old Tape Solves 100-Year-Old Photo Mystery

A voice from the past solved an old family mystery and turned historian Lisa Jardine from a skeptic into a family-history convert. Jardine considered her sister’s research into family history a bit of fluff, “so much depends on guesswork and surmise, so many of the documents defy...

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The Best Gift: a Life Story

(Scroll down for a shopping list for the aspiring or should-be memoirist in your family.) “Forget about the mall,” writes Patrick Reardon, in The best Christmas gift — a life story (Chicago Tribune, 12-10-11). The gifts he treasures most are stories from his wife and children...

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Doing Oral History (a reading list)

Oral histories are a form of personal history with a fairly specific discipline – including a tendency to be focused on specific topics. These are some of the most often-used guides. Curating Oral Histories: From Interview to Archive by Nancy McKay (addresses the management, preservation,...

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Holding readers’ attention with a storyline

Biographers, writes Peter Ginna on Nieman Storyboard, are often tempted to organize a subject’s life story by theme. “They want to write about their subject’s womanizing, say, so instead of threading every extramarital affair into the ongoing storyline, it seems simpler to give...

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Art Spiegelman’s Take on Personal History

A personal history can take many forms and one of the most interesting is the classic graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. This “comic book” by Art Spiegelman is a biography of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The complete work (which depicts...

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