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"The explosion of interest in tracing one's roots has
given rise to another phenomenon. Ordinary people —
boomers and their elder parents — are hiring filmmakers and
immortalize their histories on pricey videos and books that can look
for the History Channel or bookstore shelves."
The above quote is from an article that was on the front page today of
the Seattle Times
(see article here).
The article goes on to mention that even though such personal history
not yet mainstream, they are growing in popularity (as I've been
saying) and notes that the upcoming Association of
conference in Portland is sold out. (Sadly, I won't be
able to attend this year, but it looks to be an amazing event!)
This article is another great example of the expanding interest in the
stories of people, famous or not. Reporter Marsha King does a
good job of summarizing the reasons why this trend is rapidly growing.
And she notes that social history is enhanced by the oral
histories, books, videos and other means of recording personal history.
I certainly agree!
There is a rich tradition of oral history as a way of passing family
and community history on to others. Although it might seem
that this fell out of favor, it seems to be making a resurgence.
Something that certainly will aid this is The Center for Studies in Oral
Tradition now becoming availalble free of charge through eOT.
Their goal is to make thousands of pages of research available free of
charge online through a series of PDF files and with the use of
key-word searching you will be able to utilize this vast information
for your personal history projects. See
The local newspaper in my town, the Albuquerque
Journal, published an interesting article by Amy Miller
the other day. She wrote about Dick Heath, the headmaster at
Sandia Preparatory. He's been the headmaster for 21 years at
New Mexico's longest-running independent school.
What caught my eye from the article is that Mr. Heath writes the
monthly newsletter for the school and he includes personal accounts
about his life, raising children, world events and other topics.
His perspective on life strikes a chord with the parents and
apparently the newsletter is quite popular. So popular, in
fact, that he has collected the letters into a new book titled Dear Parents.
It's available in Albuquerque at the school, but it is also
soon to be offered at Page One Books (a New Mexico independent
bookstore). You can check their web site at page1books.com.
Those of you who've dropped in on my thoughts here on a regular basis
know how much I like to point out the growing interest in ethical wills.
I think leaving our values, thoughts, forgiveness and fond
wishes for friends and family in print with a spiritual legacy is very
important. I encourage people to consider a spiritual memoir as one way
of writing about their lives and an ethical will can be part of that.
another long time member of APH,
has an excellent article, Ethical wills
impart values,leaving timeless legacies. It
summarizes the value and importance of ethical wills and has been
published in The Tidings
publication and online here.
How well do you know your parents? That might be a loaded
question. All of us like to think we know our parents, but
all humans can be surprising. Doug Block is a documentary filmmaker
and he's created a new acclaimed personal documentary, 51 Birch Street.
He's been working hard on distribution and apparently now has
a deal with truly*indie
production and the film opens in select cities October 18.
As posted on the film's official website (www.51birchstreet.com):
"Documentary filmmaker Doug Block had every reason to believe his
parent’s 54-year marriage was a good one. So he
isn’t prepared when, just a few months after his
mother’s unexpected death, his 83-year old father phones to
announce that he’s moving to Florida to live with
“Kitty”, his secretary from 40 years before."
This sounds like a worthwhile documentary to view for all of us
interested in personal history and life story preservation. More here.
I use a notebook computer, a desktop, a scanner and sometimes a digital
camera. I also do web work, building and maintaining sites
for others as well as for this site. I even have an iPod,
albeit a shuffle that I use mainly when I do my running.
Even so, I am no gadget freek or technological expert. But,
the world is changing rapidly and the use of technology is allowing for
more creative and interesting ways to preserve our life experiences.
I try to stay informed about these advances and to pass along
what I discover. So, I found an article on TrendWatching.com to
be quite interesting. It deals with what they term Life Caching.
The advances of technology are allowing people to record
their experiences in many ways, with audio, video and more.
You can read the article here.
I have a suspicion that there are many more people like me who are
interested in these technological advances, but aren't really that
proficient at using them. I'll bet there's some great opportunities for
those who do understand how to use these new technologies to "teach"
One other thing - I also think there may be resistance to getting too
"techy" and even a nostalgia for the "good ole' days" when people wrote
letters by hand and hung out chatting on their porches. I,
for one, would like to see both flourish. We need the new
tools. But we also need to stay intimate and willing to spend
quality face-to-face time. What do you think? I'd
be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject. You
can send me an email.
I must admit I have mixed emotions about today. We all
realize this is the five year anniversary of a horrible terrorist
attack in the United States. 9-11
is a day none of us will forget and to have the media replaying the
images of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon being
hit by airliners, the eventual collapse of the World Trade Centers, and
the report of United Flight 93 going down in Pennsylvania brings back
disturbing memories. And I can't help but think that some of
this is sensationalized reporting for ratings purposes.
That's my cynical side.
However, I am caught up in the tales of great courage, sorrow,
compassion and heroism. Whenever tragedy strikes the human
spirit often rises to the occasion. The stories of people -
real flesh and blood and not faceless names. They deserve and need to
be honored and remembered. This is part of the "personal
history" I write so much about.
There are many stories I've encountered, heard, or read that I could
mention. No doubt you've come across several. The one I will
mention was the article that appeared in this week's Parade
magazine that is inserted in many Sunday newspapers. In At First I Wanted
Revenge, a former New York City cop
tells of his anger over his son's death in one of the World Trade
Center towers, how he thirsted for revenge and thought attacking Iraq
was the right thing to do, Later he come to terms with his anger,
bitterness and sadness. And he questions some things that
must have required great courage. It's real, honest and a bit rough
around the edges (and that's part of the appeal to me).
Read the story online
Today is another U.S. Holiday, National Grandparents Day.
Lest you think it's an invention of Hallmark you should know
this holiday received official proclamation in 1978 by President Jimmy
Carter and the holiday is observed annually on the first Sunday after
West Virginia housewife, Marian Lucille Herndon
McQuade, initiated a campaign in 1970 to set aside a special day just
Grandparents. She and her husband, Joe, have 15 children and 40
grandchildren! More on Grandparents
I am not yet a grandparent, but by all accounts it is a special
blessing to be one. You get
to enjoy the children, spoil them, and pass on some stories and values
get more respect than accorded the parents). And then you give the kids
back till the next time!
Have you discovered the YouTube
phenomenon? The youtube.com
web site has taken the Internet by storm in the past year.
The site hosts thousands of videos, mostly submitted by
everyday people (although now record companies and the movie industry
are finding ways to use the site to market).
A great deal of the videos are silly, a type of "America's Favorite
Videos". However, some of the content is quite compelling. For the
family and personal history genre there could be great possibilities.
Already a 79-year old man in England, known as geriatric1927 has gained a certain
amount of notoriety for
his video submissions, what he
"geriatric gripes and grumbles".
It's just him in front of a camera, but
he's telling stories from his life experiences and apparently striking
a chord in others. BBC
news has reported on his postings and he now gets massive amounts of
Emerging technology such as this will impact future generations.
Never before has the opportunity to "tell your story" become
so quick and accessible.
I hope those of you who had a three-day holiday for the Labor Day
weekend found it to be a relaxing and beneficial time off.
everyone gets to take Labor Day off. We should be grateful
for those who do work to provide us the services we depend on.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a saying you're
familiar with. It behooves all of us to make sure we have
balance in our lives. Work is important for most of us.
But so is family and our relationships. If you can
make a living doing what you love you are truly
When we reflect on our jobs, work, careers and service to others we
find out a lot about what we like...and don't like. This is
rich material to mine for your life story.
If you are curious to know more about the history of Labor Day visit this link from the U.S.
Department of Labor.