This Week in Personal History... September 13

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

“So much of our future lies in preserving our past.” 

—Peter Westbrook


Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have impacted far too many, in far too dire ways. While saving family photos may seem like a small thing in the wake of losing a home, those sentimental tokens of memory are often among the lost items most bemoaned. Personal historians may work to record the stories of those impacted by such natural disasters, and may also offer assistance or guidance on how to preserve your legacy for the future, however the winds may blow.

Guarding Your Legacy Against Natural Disaster

Natural disasters such as those that have befallen Texas and Florida will often “rob us of our material connections to our past,” as Des Moines–based personal historian Larry Lehmer laments.

From quilts and family photos, it is often telling to see what people save.

Storykeeping’s Clinton Haby outlines a single process that will have your legacy covered regardless of a hurricane, earthquake, fire, or flood. 

Other news outlets provide advice for saving items damaged by water, including straightforward videos for DIY heirloom recovery and how to salvage photos and videos ruined by flood.

Remembering 9/11

“As a New Yorker who knew people who experienced so much worse, it never really felt like a story that was mine to tell,” Ilana Wiles says of why she never wrote about 9/11 (until now). Having witnessed the towers falling from my Brooklyn window that day, I can deeply relate. But even as the years pass, we find comfort in hearing from people who were there—sharing the experience of this unimaginable moment in history—and finding meaningful ways to remember, and to bear witness.

“If how we remember is a process that never stops evolving, so too is how the children of 9/11 inspire.” 

Help Delaney Colaio as she seeks to rally empowerment and recovery by allowing the children who lost parents on 9/11 to become the narrators of their own lives, telling their stories, their way, in the documentary film We Go Higher.

Telling Life Stories

It’s never been easier, according to AARP—telling the story of your life, that is. Personal historians from around the country offer their tips to retirees on how to preserve their legacy for kids and grandkids in a book, video, or digital archive. 


Quick Takes



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