Life Story Links: March 26, 2019
“Of course I have no right whatsoever to write down the truth about my life, involving as it naturally does the lives of so many other people, but I do so urged by the necessity of truth-telling, because there is no living soul who knows the complete truth; here, may be one who knows a section; and there, one who knows another section: but to the whole picture not one is initiated.”
Past and Present
In Search of Our Roots by Henry Louis Gates Jr. traces how 19 African Americans reclaimed their past. “All of us have ancestries defined at turns by people on the move—people with far more complicated arcs than might first appear in straight lines of descent,” he writes.
ACCESSING PAINFUL MEMORIES
“Once writing the book became the most important and life-affirming thing I could do, my nightly dreams provided me with the vivid memories that propelled me forward,” writes Holocaust survivor Max Eisen. “I was not aware of how cathartic an experience it would be.”
A debate about the utility and appropriateness of sharing the experiences of war has been waging over at The Havok Journal. In this three-part series writers contemplate what happens if silence becomes the story of your life; the reality of healing through sharing; and the possibility that you don’t get the chance to “work through” traumatic experiences.
THE AUDACITY OF STORYTELLERS
“If I believe that my own existence matters, I am even more confident that each of us has stories that matter,” Mary Ann Thomas writes in a piece exploring how as a nurse and writer, she works toward a culture of care.
FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Last week I recommended three recent must-listen podcasts about memoir, narrative structure, family secrets, writing prompts, and more—and with each weighing in at under an hour, they’re easy to fit into your schedule.
The Library of Congress has added 25 “audio treasures” to its National Recording Registry, including music from Jay-Z and Neil Diamond as well as a 1968 speech by Robert F. Kennedy. The oldest recordings on the list are the earliest-known recordings of Yiddish songs, made between 1901 and 1905. All of the audio treasures in the collection are available to listen to for free at the National Jukebox.
MEMORIES ON CASSETTE
Leora Troper of Portland-based Artisan Memoirs shares a brief post about why and how to digitize family stories that are currently stored on cassette tapes.
VOICES & GESTURES
In the video below, Steve Trainor of Remember Your Life Video in Hampton, Illinois, shares his enthusiasm for personal history with a local television reporter and gets to the heart of why capturing family stories now is of utmost importance. Kudos, Steve!
Photography & Memory
CAPTURING ‘OLD NEW YORK’
“My work is fueled by a sense of loss and nostalgia foretold,” Dimitri Mellos says of his photography project Chinatown. "The act of photographing affords me the illusory comfort that I am preserving a few bits and pieces of what life in this vibrant immigrant community has been like, in a form impervious to the passage of time.”
Stumped for what to get someone you love this Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? “One of the greatest gifts that you can give to a parent is to help them to update and organize their treasure trove of photos," suggests Amy Blankson, who offers five steps to guide you through the process.
PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY INTO PAST
“The sheer abundance of mementos, spilling from mobile photo galleries, bestows significance upon ordinary moments,” Veeksha Vagmita writes in this short meditation upon the nature of how memory is impacted by our photographic history, from tattered old albums to present-day phone scrolls.
TOUCH POINTS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL LOSS
“Touch the screen and a memory appears”: The free My House of Memories app has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their caregivers. It features historical photographs intended to spark meaningful conversation (personal photographs can be uploaded, as well).
INSTRUCTIONAL MEMOIR, ANYONE?
”Are you a skilled cook or teacher or technician with a personal story underlying your expertise?" asks Massachusetts-based personal historian Nancy West. Consider combining a retelling of your life with information about how to do something, offering useful instructions that the reader might be able to apply directly to his or her own life.
BOOKTUBE WITH OBAMA
“It’s harder to hate up close. So let’s let each other in a bit more,” Michelle Obama says in this 10-minute interview about her bestselling memoir.
...and a Few More Links
A list to bookmark: The top 25 films that explore memory
Read the March/April issue of Hippocampus Magazine.
Sandra Day O’Connor and Alzheimer’s: a personal story
Social media sites are designed for sharing, not archiving.
An ode to (Australian) family history indexes
What will happen to our cloud-based keepsakes? A millennial’s take