Everyone Has a Story to Tell – Did you see this one?

Did you see this great story in today’s New York Times: An Aging Jazz Pianist Finds a New Audience (Dec. 9, 2011) “Boyd Lee Dunlop found his musical talent during the Great Depression. But after years of playing in bars and nightclubs, it took a damaged piano in a Buffalo nursing...

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Book Review: The Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess

“Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you…” Many of us grow up with dreams of a fairy tale life—falling in love with the handsome “prince,” living happily ever after in a life of luxury. Most of us grow up to accept the fairy tale as just that. Yet for...

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Book Review: Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin

Six years ago I was beginning my journey into writing memoir, capturing the stories of my own family. A neighbor who knows Christina Baldwin and understands her work lent me Storycatcher. Ten pages in, I bought my own copy so I could highlight the gems I found there. I was inspired by...

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Reframing a Painful Experience

Ray was the busy, successful CEO of a large corporation he had started; his daughter had roped him into writing a memoir with me. “Good luck,” she said, before we started. “I’ve never had more than a five-minute conversation with my dad in my life.”At his office, when I started asking questions, he tapped his foot, looked at his watch, and gave me short answers. His attitude was, Who exactly are you, what is it you want from me, and how long is this going to take?When I asked about his childhood, his stories started when he was five years old. I let that pass for the moment.

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Personal History as Emotional Insurance

In 1995 I founded the nonprofit Mothers Living Stories Project by convening focus groups of women ages 25 to 55 who were living with cancer while raising children. I wanted to learn whether they would be willing to record their life stories with the help of a trained Volunteer Listener or in a...

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What Do Personal Historians Do?

That is a question our members are asked every day.  Essentially, as personal historians we are “the life story people.”  Clients come to us when they need help telling their life story. As personal historians, we are in the memory business—helping to capture and give...

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Hooking Kids on Family Stories

I had one of my best experiences getting kids involved in writing family stories during a four-day Biography Writing Workshop at an island school off the coast of Scotland. It was my first experience in that country, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The sixth-grade students were delightful...

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