This Week in Personal History... August 21

curated links to blogs and articles of interest to personal historians and family biographers

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” 

—George Bernard Shaw


Where did you watch the eclipse from yesterday? My 8-year-old son and I spied the sky through our handmade cereal box viewer while we alternately had a backyard baseball catch and talked about the meaning of the world and the possibility of time travel—heady stuff, indeed. If we’re not making memories, what would we have to preserve?!

Roundup of Personal History Links - August 21, 2017

On the Blogs

In her post “Recording Family History: The 5 Biggest Mistakes,” Orange County, CA video biographer Jane Shafron doesn’t offer tips on recording equipment or technique; rather, she hones in on the faulty reasoning for not preserving one’s story (such as believing your story must be filled with high drama) and other “reasons” for not moving forward.

“What I know is that in the giving, in the making of this present, I’ve been given yet another gift as well, of thankfulness for what has been passed down to me, and what has been passed on,” writes Massachusetts-based personal historian Marjorie Turner Hollman of the baby blankets she learned to make from her mom—and continues to gift to friends and loved ones in a now time-honored tradition.

In Tell the Truth. Make It Matter, Beth Kephart offers up a wonderfully original series of memoir-writing prompts that encourage self-reflection and striving toward the universal. I review her workbook, which is a wonderful companion for anyone on a journey to find—and write—their truth.

Personal historian Beth LaMie, of Write on Track in Central Illinois, shares her very personal journey as she battles Stage 4 Ovarian cancer: “I decided to blog about my experiences to help other people understand how my life has changed.” Beth, we send you strength and best wishes, and thank you for your courage in writing so openly—may others who are impacted by cancer find comfort in your words.

Worth Checking Out

For any aspiring genealogists in our midst, D. Joshua Taylor and Susan R. Miller of New York Genealogical & Biographical Society hosted an informative YouTube Q&A, answering participant questions with very specific advice. Read tips from that session here; or register and submit your own questions for the next YouTube Live Q&A, scheduled for this Wednesday, August 23 at 1:00 pm ET.

Quick Takes


#MemoriesMatter #Legacy #LifeStories #Memoir #OralHistory #FamilyHistory