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The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives

© Tom Gilbert

Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy of personal historian  

May, 2017

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8th Grade Students Write From the Heart

May 31, 2017

An 8th grade Language Arts Class at Chowchilla's Wilson Middle School was given a writing assignment. Their teacher, Karen Gallagher asked her students back in September to write about a moment in their lives that had a big effect on them and changed the way they looked at themselves and the world around them. An interesting and seemingly simple assignment.

The result was that the students and the teacher learned about each other in a much greater way than they anticipated. The students opened up and wrote from the heart about some powerful experiences. It took seven months and some art students even got involved and created illustrations. Stories detailing jhow students dealt with difficult family situations, loss and new life, friends, triumphs, discoveries, defeat and determination emerged.

A book has now been published with the stories and to the delight and amazement of the students who never thought they could accomplish such a thing. 82 Footprints  is now available as a book that will be treasured by the teacher, students, family, friends and even strangers. I think it is marvelous that they spent the year on this important project and saw it through to completion. What a triumph!

Brian Wilkinson, editor for the Sierra Star wrote about this project and you can read a few of the stories from the book.


Paris Apartment Closed For 70 Years Opened and It's Like a Time Capsule

May 22, 2017

It was a remarkable discovery when a Paris apartment, locked since 1939, was recently opened. It was like stepping back in time - a time capsule of sorts - and the amazing amount of art inside makes it quite a treasure trove.

The woman who lived in the flat for many years, Mrs. De Florian, had fled to the south of France before World War Two broke out. She never returned and after she died at the age of 91 it was opened to take inventory of her assets. And there were some amazing discoveries, including a painting of a beautiful French woman since identified as Marthe de Florian. She was the grandmother of Mrs. De Florian and a French actress and socialite. That painting turned out to be a work by 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini and was sold at auction for over $3 million dollars! Apparently Boldini was one of her many admirers.

There were some other fascinating finds in the apartment. Some great pictures are included in the Daily Mail article, Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII.

Historical discoveries such as this can be quite amazing. However, it is possible you have some great discoveries with interesting family history stories stored away in old letters, journals and photo albums. Unlock these treasures. Preserving our personal history is important.


R.I.P to the APH

May 17, 2017
Association of Personal Historians
A week ago I received a surprising email. It was sent to all the members of the Association of Personal Historians (APH), a not-for-profit trade organization with members around the world, announcing the dissolution of the organization.

This was a shock. But unfortunately a necessary move that the Board of Directors struggled over, but ultimately had to implement. Apparently the 21 year old association has been experiencing increasing difficulties to meet expenses. Not enough membership renewals or new members and the costs of running the fine organization were oustripping the operating budget.

I am saddened by the news having been a member since 2003. But it does not mean the end of the personal history and life story movement. People are increasingly finding ways to preserve their stories (memoirs, videobiographies, digital and material scrapbooks, photo albums, websites and much more).

It is often difficult for people to make a profitable business out of life story work. Most personal historians do it for the love of the work and the countless good reasons for saving life stories. Having the support of others and an organization with resources and networking opportunities is valuable. Fortunately enough of the APH members are interested in keeping connected and already using social media like Facebook to do so.

My intent is to continue to wave the banner of support for people telling their story. I do this work and promotion along with my fulltime teaching gig, so I do what I can on a part-time basis. But I will continue to promote the services and providers that I think can provide quality and rewarding work for those who are interested in preserving their lives with their life stories.

So long and farewell APH. Sorry to see you go, but thanks for the years of valuable resources and friends I've met during your twenty-plus year run.


May is Personal History Month

May 10, 2017

It's already the tenth of May and I've been very busy, but it is important that I remind you that this is Personal History Awareness Month. I've talked about it in past years and you can read an article I wrote a few years ago and just updated right here.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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