Life Story Links: March 11, 2019
“I wish I had realized that family history is a perishable commodity. It disappears with time, as memories fade, and as loved ones pass on. I wish I had known that the most important aspect of family history is preserving a record of the present for the future.”
—Gordon B. Hinckley
Out of the Boxes
AMONG THE RESIDUE
This book was discovered among the papers not sent to the author’s literary archive in Oxford. "Its yellow and curling title page announced Really and Truly: A Book of Literary Confessions." And inside…the handwritten opinions of the owner’s grandmother, as well as those of Virginia Woolf and Rebecca West.
In last week’s post “Sharing Is Good” I implore everyone to print—and share—family photos. Why? Because besides generating conversation, you will spark joy, find genealogy clues, and discover even more treasures.
CURATE KEEPSAKES LIKE A PRO
“Family curators have been organizing and saving family history for a lot longer than Marie Kondo has been teaching people how to discover joy in decluttering,” observes The Family Curator. "Trends. They come. They go. I’m happy to report that family heirlooms aren’t dead yet."
Storytelling, Your Way
Carolyn Burke’s Foursome is a group biography that interweaves the lives of Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, and Rebecca Salsbury. Here she shares five books that inspired, spurred, or otherwise helped her to think of writing group biography.
GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S GENEROSITY
Personal history varies from family history in myriad ways, though they often do (and should!) complement one another. Here is an example of piecing together a family narrative from documents, a worthwhile step in sharing genealogical research. Just imagine, though, if the people had recorded their own stories—how much richer the narrative would be!
“HAPPY VERY EASY”
“My parents are getting older and even though I have a good relationship with my mom…I’ve never had a super-deep conversation with her,” Kane says. Here he asks her 11 intimate questions “before it’s too late,” and the resulting video, full of playful banter and deeply moving moments, is a wonderful example of how effective—and relatively easy—at-home video interviews can be.
THE LONGEVITY ECONOMY
“According to AARP, the economic activity of Americans 50+ is the equivalent of the third largest economy in the world.” Personal history is one of four career opportunities in the field of aging explored in a recent Forbes article.
Madison, Wisconsin–based personal historian and educator Sarah White publishes first person stories on her blog True Stories Well Told. “Short, true, and diverse in genre—a reminiscence, a reflection on your writing process, a book review, a question—it's all welcome for consideration,” she says.
“MAMA’S LAST PICNIC”
Margaret-Ann Allison, who would have been 83 years old today, shared a remembrance of “Mama’s Last Picnic” with NPR, where broadcasters were “so charmed by her soft southern accent that they asked her to read it aloud on the air.” While we can’t hear her honeyed voice, we can read it here, as shared by her daughter.
“WHERE THE TROUBLE STARTED”
A traumatic experience changes the course of a girl’s life, and eventually resides deep in a box in her mind. But, she writes from a distance of decades, “it does not belong in a tucked away box like a dark and dirty secret I can’t touch.” Saidee Sonnenberg tries to make sense of experience through writing.
VALUE OF LIFE REVIEW
”What it does when you go back and review your life”—by really digging in, getting to know your parents and their motivations and their parents’ motivations—is it leads you to empathy, Jane Fonda says during this brief interview where she revisits the writing of her memoir and memories of her mother.
...and a Few More Links
Untold story of the Warsaw ghetto: Who Will Write Our History
Help students become oral historians with these complete lesson plans from The Tenement Museum.
Taylor Swift says nostalgia inspires songs: “I love preserving memories”
“Oldtimers, tell your stories. Youngins, start asking.”
Fun tool: What book was the bestseller the year you were born?
See if the StoryCorps Mobile Tour is coming near you.