Life Story Links: June 25, 2019


“In writing, the big things in life are best illustrated by their small details. A recent widow struggling with the clasp of her charm bracelet for the first time since the death of her husband illustrates, illuminates and focuses in on grief. Go small and explode life’s large themes.”
—Marion Roach Smith

Boys just returned from hunting, Knox County, Kentucky, circa 1940. Photographed by Marion Post Wolcott, courtesy U.S. Farm Security Administration.

Boys just returned from hunting, Knox County, Kentucky, circa 1940. Photographed by Marion Post Wolcott, courtesy U.S. Farm Security Administration.

Lost & Found

“If we want our family heirlooms and objects to have stories, then we must attach the story to them,” Kim Winslow writes. See how she does just that with a simple bench passed down from her husband’s mother.

Every photograph is “a marker, the living trace of a human who may otherwise survive only as a census entry, or not even that. We cannot discern their accompanying stories, and we can’t do anything for them.” The (missing) stories behind other people’s photos.

140,000 VHS TAPES
“This was not just a story about an archive, but a chance to use the archive to tell a story of the complicated person Marion [Roach] was,” filmmaker Matt Wolf says of his documentary Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project. I missed the screenings in NYC and Montclair, New Jersey, but hope to catch one soon.


After a Death

“As much as I miss my dad (and I do miss him terribly) I miss the me that he knew, too. I grieve the loss of our shared story,” John Pavolovitz writes. When someone you love dies, you lose a part of yourself, too: “You lose the part of you that only they knew. You lose some of your story.”

Almost immediately after the news broke that Gloria Vanderbilt had passed away on June 17, tributes began pouring in on social media. Her son Anderson Cooper, with whom she wrote a revealing memoir, took to the air for this moving eulogy:


Ways In

By limiting oneself in word count and time allotted for writing, undertaking any life story project becomes both more urgent and more relaxed. How to write a 300-word autobiographical vignette in 30 minutes.

Do you have a story about a time you were literally lost—maybe on a winding back road, in a sprawling city, or inside a cavernous building? Or maybe you were metaphorically lost, unsure of your life's direction, until that one moment or one person changed everything. Submit your writing to Hippocampus by Sept. 15, 2019, to be considered for their “Lost” themed issue.

“Imagine telling your own story, your autobiography, around the artifacts of your life—your first trike, wagon and bicycle followed by the automobiles you owned…or other objects that are unique to your life”: Ideas for storytelling using objects as markers of time.


...and a Few More Links


 Short Takes

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I named my Instagram account after a book of poetry my 3rd Great Grandma, Emmeline B. Wells wrote and published titled “Musings and Memories”. I’ve only ever had a digital copy of this book and I’ve loved and been grateful to be able to read her poems this way. I’ve even shared a few on this account. I prefer paper to digital books so I’ve considered having this book printed, but just haven’t done it yet. Sometimes I’ll search my ancestors on random websites to see if I can find things or items written about or by them. Yesterday I randomly decided to search some of my ancestors on eBay. What the heck, right? It just so happened that someone was selling a 2nd edition copy of “Musings and Memories” published in 1915 by my beloved grandma for only $20! What??!!?? I snatched that book right up and it arrived today (the seller is going to get great feedback on shipping speed from me, for sure). I’m in love with this little blue book! Having something tangible to hold, smell, and flip through that contains so many poems my grandma wrote is amazing! The forward to this edition was written by one of her daughters, Annie Wells Cannon, who happens to be the daughter I descend through. So in this book I have the written words of my 2nd and 3rd great grandmas. Talk about a treasure!!! My grandma Emmeline died in 1921 so this edition was published while she was still alive (the first edition was published in 1896). Tomorrow my family is going with my parents to visit our family and ancestors who are buried in the Salt Lake area. I’m so excited to be able to bring this book to my Grandma Emmeline’s grave and share some of her poetry with my kids as we remember her and place flowers on her headstone. 🌹 ❤️ 🌹

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