Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches the fancy of personal historian Tom Gilbert
You are Important and So Is Your Family History
May but Personal History Awareness Continues
May 31, 2015
Here we are at the end of May, the final day of the month. It is has
been a good month to consider your life story and preserving your
personal history. Every May is Personal
History Awareness Month.
But there is no need to stop now. In fact, this can be the start of a
beautiful relationship. One between you and your life story.
There are many
ways to proceed, from something as simple as a memory list to a short letter or
written piece that lists your values and wishes for loved ones (Legacy
Letters and Ethical Wills) to something more
ambitious like a memoir or autobiography.
The important thing is that you do something. There is a lot
you can do to further your family legacy. Don't let your
story go untold!
Genealogy and Story Telling Go Hand in Hand
May 27, 2015
As a writer and personal historian I don't spend too much of my time
digging through ancestoral details of family trees like genealogists
do. However, genealogy and story telling (personal histories) go hand
in hand. The details of birth certificates, marriage licenses, military
records, census records and the like help to fuel interest in the
stories behind these life facts.
Another APH blog
post expanding on the 20
Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History explores
the genealogy connection with life story preservation. Carolyn Parrott,
in reason #12,
notes that genealogy research helps raise questions, such as how people
might have handled moving to new places or dealing with losses such as
family members dying or economic upheaval.
It is interesting how the fields of genealogy and personal history
compliment each other and also seem to be moving closer together. You
can do research easily online at places like Rootsweb
And you can preserve your own families records, details and stories
using online sites such as America's Footprints.
The Association of
Personal Historians has been actively engaging with
Genealogical organizations and attending conferences like RootsTech.
Just today I learned that the APH
Twitter account @APHistorians
is one of the 40 Genealogy Twitter accounts to follow
(another online destination for preserving family history).
Curtis on Blogging, Personal History Books and Eating Elephants
May 25, 2015
Dan Curtis is a kindred spirit. He likes and supports the idea of
preserving your life stories. For years he had a terrific blog about
personal history and it ended up really helping those who work in the
field. Other personal historians, myself included, would often read
Dan's various posts and found much inspiration and motivation.
Although Dan retired his successful blog he culled the best material
from it and created two new books. Skills for Personal Historians and Business Tips for Personal Historians
have a lot of practical and informative advice, for personal historians
- or anyone who is working on a personal history project. That quite
possibly includes you, the person reading this blog.
In the true altruistic approach to his work, Dan is not pocketing the
proceeds from these books. Instead, he's donating the money to the APH
development programs and conference scholarship fund. That will further
the work of personal history by helping others learn the ropes. Stories
preserved from the efforts of personal historians helped by this is
like an endless wave. It is a way of giving that continues for many
generations because more life stories will be shared and not lost.
Read Dan's post, How to
Eat an Elephant (here) with great advice about
writing a blog and his experience, and find out more about his books at
the APH store.
May 20th is Me@20 Day
May 20, 2015
Today members of the
Association of Personal Historians are posting about
themselves at age 20. It is a way to celebrate Personal History Awareness Month
and the 20th anniversary of the association. Members worldwide are
helping people just like you in preserving their life stories and
As I reminisced about my life at 20 it helped me to remember what it is
like to recall past events and my feelings towards them. For instance,
where I lived, the music I listened to, and some of the major headlines
of that time. You can read my Me@20
post here. Be sure
to check out some of other terrific blog postings by APH
member at this link.
That Could Be Your Sister or Brother Sitting Across From You at a
May 19, 2015
Two women who'd never met enrolled in the same writer's class and
discovered they were sisters! An odd and endearing personal history
story by Correy Kilgannon of the New
York Times - here.
Aware! May is Personal History Awareness Month
May 18, 2015
Yes, I know, we've already passed the halfway point in the month of
May, but there is still plenty to celebrate about personal history in
this month we like to refer to as Personal
History Awareness Month. Every year I comment on it and
I've written on the topic (see this article, as well as Memories for the Merry Month of May).
This month an excellent post by Sarah White,
current President of the Association
of Personal Historians,
focuses not just on the importance of personal history and life story
preservation, but also on the importance of Personal History AWARENESS!
Every year I see the growing interest in life story work, memoir,
family history, genealogy, story telling and all the things that make
up personal history. Have you considered your how you will preserve
your life story?
In a couple of days there will be a special event promoted by APH.
This year the association celebrates 20 years as an organization and we
members are reminiscing about our lives at age twenty. Me@20 posts will
erupt online in blog posts and social media - watch this spot
Thursday - My Son Walks the Graduation Line
May 14, 2015
Three years ago to the day my son Eric graduated from High School. I
wrote about it on this
and found myself ruminating about the significance of High School
graduation. It is special on many levels. By extension, you can
consider any graduation an important milestone and
Also three years ago I was finishing up my first year teaching. It is a
second career that I've started after over 30 years doing radio
broadcasting, along with a few others things (personal historian
included). It is not easy to teach, but it is very rewarding. My
current crop of 5th graders will soon be out for the summer and after
that break they will start middle school, a significant new beginning.
Here's to all of us who continue on the path of learning in life.
Zinsser Wrote and Lived Well
May 13, 2015
Zinsser, a terrific writing instructor and gifted writer, died Tuesday
at the age of 92. His book Writing
has sold over 1.5 million copies and has bee revised a few times (just
as any good writing should). I've always enjoyed reading his advice and
"hearing" his voice through the written word. Supposedly it took him
until his 50's to truly find his voice.
Zinsser was good about commenting on memoir writing, such as in his Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir and his own story in a teaching
memoir, Writing About Your Life. Find out much more
about William Zinsser with this New York Times article.
Best Cooking Isn't Always A Meal
May 10, 2015
Mother's Day 2015 and I've enjoyed celebrating this weekend. My wife
and I just returned from a family gathering at her parent's house. We
go there most Sundays. Today the grownup kids (her siblings), along
with some grandchildren and a great-grandchild, were there as we fixed
a meal and thanked Mom for all she does for us. And, of course, we
also thanked all the other mothers.
My wife's mom (everybody calls her Nana) is a second mother to me,
especially since my own mother passed away in 2006. She is a caring
person - and a good cook! One of the highlights of the Sunday
gatherings is the meal. She makes some great ones, including ribs,
meatloaf, and green chile enchiladas!
Mom's typically are the family chefs, although many men also enjoy
preparing meals. A New
York Times article from May 5, A Mother's Cookbook Shares More Than Recipes
has the author, Kim Severson, reminiscing about her mom's recipes and
old cookbooks. They were food-stained and dog-eared, showing
often they were used. Apparently this is not unusual. The Smithsonian
Institution's National Museum of American History has a
collection of Julia Child's cookbooks and they are just as worn and
Thank you to all the moms who work hard each day to feed their
families, and for the special and most important ingredient stirred in,
Legacy Smile - New (Free) Book
...and happy Personal History Awareness Month
May 4, 2015
May is here, traditionally Personal History Awareness Month,
and so it is always good to spend time during the month to promote the
importance of telling your story. Your personal history matters - to
you and others!
It was a few years ago when
Robb Lucy (Your Legacy Smile)
and I first crossed cyber-paths. Robb is another passionate
advocate for people sharing their lives and stories. More than that, he
wants everyone to have a legacy and to enjoy it now, before you die!
His new book, Legacies
Aren't Just for Dead People! is out and today and tomorrow
he's offering free Kindle versions
and 50% off paperback versions. I just downloaded my Kindle copy and I
look forward to digging into it and learning more from a kindred spirit.
Your story has lessons for others. Share it. I appreciate what Robb is
doing and also his incredibly generous offer. Today was a good day for
a freebie. Maybe somebody already said to you, "May the 4th Be With