The Association of Personal Historians 2009 Annual Conference is being held in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania from Oct. 21 – 25, 2009. If you can get to only one conference this year, this is the one to attend.
Warning: Early bird registration ends on July 31st. If you want to save money click here. Non APH members can attend the conference but if you’re not yet a member, I’d encourage you to join the APH. The Conference fees are lower and you’ll receive a wealth of benefits that are well worth the membership fee.
I attended my first APH conference in Portland, Oregon, in 2006. It was a great experience. Here’s what it did for me:
- Recharged my batteries: Meeting with and listening to the varied experiences of APH members got me excited about my chosen profession.
- Honed my skills: From workshops on marketing for introverts to making demo reels to the therapeutic benefits of life stories, I soaked in new and valuable information.
- Inspired me: The keynote speakers and workshop leaders helped me see my work in a larger context and made me want to do more.
- Made new friends: I found personal historians are “my kind of people”. They’re good listeners. They’re enthusiastic. They’re helpful. I still keep in touch with several colleagues I met in Portland.
- Created a sense of community: Working on our own can sometimes feel daunting and lonely. I left Portland knowing that I was now part of a very vital and enriching community.
Revolutionary Perspectives is the theme for the 2009 APH conference. Paula Stahel, APH President, writes:
… this year’s conference theme, is designed to help you transform and expand your awareness. The wide array of educational workshops and enlightening speakers will open your eyes to opportunities you can take advantage of immediately. Access to new information, ideas, technology, and connections will offer fresh insight on how to make your business thrive, not just survive, harsh economic times.
I really encourage you to go to this year’s APH conference. It’s an investment you won’t regret. I wish I could say that I’ll see you there but I’m caring for my 91 year-old mother and she’s my priority right now. One day I’ll be back at an APH conference. See you then!
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Like most personal historians you’re probably a lover of books. You read them, discuss them, shelve them and share them. I just came across a terrific website that I think you’ll like. It’s called Goodreads and was launched in December, 2006. It currently has more than 2,300,000 members and 54,000,000 books added to member profiles. Here’s how Goodreads describe itself:
… a free website for book lovers. Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.
What makes Goodreads different from other book sites like Amazon.com is that it’s more like going to a friend’s house. As the founder of Goodreads, Otis Y. Chandler writes:
When I want to know what books to read, I’d rather turn to a friend than any random person, bestseller list or algorithm. So I thought I’d build a website — a website where I could see my friends’ bookshelves and learn about what they thought of all their books.
Goodreads is that site. It is a place where you can see what your friends are reading and vice versa. You can create “bookshelves” to organize what you’ve read (or want to read). You can comment on each other’s reviews. And on this journey with your friends you can explore new territory, gather information, and expand your mind.
Goodreads also allows you to share your own writing. There’s even a biography and and memoir group. So check out Goodreads. You’ll not be disappointed.
Photo by Ianqui Doodle
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Posted in Book reviews, Life stories, Memoirs, Resources, Writing
Tagged book lovers, Book reviews, Goodreads, Life stories, reading discussion group, Resources, sharing, Writing
It’s Monday and time again for a roundup of some of the past week’s intriguing personal and oral history links.
- The Canadian Headstone Photo Project: “The mission of this project is to capture digital images of headstones of our ancestors…By archiving the images, we can help save these important records and also assist researchers using this valuable resource.”
- The Welshman who struck gold in Suffolk! “A Suffolk village is hanging out the bunting and banging the drum, literally and figuratively, to honour one of its most famous adopted sons – the father of oral history, no less.”
- Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project: “Cylinder recordings, the first commercially produced sound recordings, are a snapshot of musical and popular culture in the decades around the turn of the 20th century…On this site you will have the opportunity to find out more about the cylinder format, listen to thousands of musical and spoken selections from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and discover a little-known era of recorded sound.”
- Who are these people? “Four out of five people say they’ve attended a ‘miserable’ family reunion. But while many balk at spending dough to visit distant relatives in the Facebook age, Adriana Barton reports that there’s nothing like face-time to provide a real sense of connection.”
- Living Cultural Storybases: “…helps minority communities build evolving digital repositories in their own language of their cultural narratives and knowledge…”
- Pasadena’s Living Legacy: “…a new exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of History traces the lines of six families that have represented common experiences for that community.“Family Stories: Sharing a Community’s Legacy” chronicles the histories of multi-generational families from some of the city’s largest ethnic groups, whose lives replay as a living history of the City of the Roses.”
- Rosie the Riveter: Women Working During World War II: “The National Park Service’s first on-line exhibit of artifacts, photos and stories of the American World War II Home Front. This exhibit is a small sample from thousands of items donated to us from across the country.”
Photo by fdecomit
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In a previous post I wrote about the ten things that I liked best about being a professional personal historian. Now to be honest, this work has its challenges. I’m not trying to discourage anyone and at the same time I think it’s wise to go into something new with your eyes wide open. Would anything on the following list make you reconsider a career as a personal historian?
- Minimal income at the start. Until you’ve built up a client base, your revenues will be slim for at least a couple of years. I speak from experience.
- No regular paycheck. If you’ve been a salaried employee, it can be a shock to suddenly find there’s no check at the end of the week.
- An uneven work flow. It can often be a question of feast or famine – too many clients or too few.
- Working alone. You can spend days and weeks on your own. Now for some this may be a benefit not a handicap.
- Marketing your services. If you’re an introvert like me, this can be a challenge. But if you don’t market your services, you won’t get clients and your business will fail.
- Inconsiderate clients. Most are a pleasure to work with. And then I’ve had a few potential clients who never return calls. This, after I’ve spent time with them working out a personalized life story package and budget. It’s annoying. Other personal historians can attest to their own “clients from hell”.
- Little free time. If you want to earn the income you feel you need, you’ll find yourself putting in long days and long weeks. Being self-employed and successful is hard work especially if you’re trying to balance it with domestic responsibilities.
- Working in a profession that is unregulated. Anyone can claim to be a personal historian – there’s no certification or governing body. For the potential client this can create confusion. Some personal historians have years of experience and others none. Some charge very little while others charge thousands of dollars. A potential client can well question why they should pay me a professional rate when someone down the street is offering a bargain basement fee.
- Keeping up with changing technologies: An example. A few years ago I invested a few thousand dollars into the latest 3-chip, miniDV prosumer camcorder. It’s now obsolete because it doesn’t shoot in HD and isn’t flash-based. I can still get some use out of my camcorder but I will eventually have to upgrade.
- If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. It’s not always practical or easy to delegate some tasks. So for most of us it means wearing many different hats. In any one day you can be a marketer, bookkeeper, writer, editor, event planner, interviewer, and administrative assistant. While this can be a lot of fun, it can also be stressful and lead to burn out.
Photo by Gobi
This Monday’s eclectic mix of links has a bit of an international flair with items from Ireland, Canada, and the U.S.A. If you come across an interesting link that relates in some way to life stories, genealogy, or oral history, let me know and I’ll consider including it here with a reference to your web site or blog.
- Edmonton’s Photo Archives are now Online: “The city of Edmonton, Alberta has placed more than 10,000 photos from the city archives online. The collection is expected to grow to more than 25,000 photographs.”
- Three Interesting Story Prompts: “Whether we are storytellers, story practitioners, journalers, writers, bloggers, memoirists, or just folks seeking personal growth and self-actualization, we can always use good story prompts for inspiration.”
- Rocket Men: “Craig Nelson’s “Rocket Men,” published on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, is a fitting tribute to that achievement…he has used the numerous interviews with former employees conducted in the past 10 years by NASA’s Oral History Project. The range of voices in the selections Nelson quotes, from German scientists with still-haphazard English, to fact-spouting engineers, to laconic test pilots, gives this sky-gazing book its solidly grounded air.”
- Archive of American Television: “… houses over 600 rare, in-depth, videotaped interviews- exclusive conversations with the biggest television/film/media stars and iconic industry figures who work behind the scenes.”
Photo by fdecomite
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It’s Monday and time to round up some great links for your perusal. Here’s what I found this past week:
- It’s Our Story to have National Press Club conference July 24: “It’s Our Story is a video oral history project that uncovers the power, pride, and personal struggles of living with a disability. It’s a uniquely American story and challenges our most fundamental values of freedom, autonomy, and independence.”
- Upgrading the Computer History Museum: The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., is a geek’s paradise. Its warehouse-style exhibit room is laden with old Macs, supercomputers, and reel-to-reel storage tapes.
- E-Workshop – Getting Started with Oral History: Offered by the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University, the course introduces you to oral history and walks you through planning and executing a project. Before you complete the workshop, you will have experienced writing a project plan and conducting a one-on-one oral history interview. Begins July 22nd. Cost $75.
- The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities: Written by Pat McNees for the Journal of Geriatric Care Management. “…research increasingly tells us, that life story writing and reminiscence can improve the mood and quality of life for adults with more years behind than ahead of them.”
- Story Poems as Memoir: Inspired to write since childhood by her writer father, Janet Riehl penned a six generational family memoir told through story poems in Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary (ISBN 0595374999).
Photo by fdecomite
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Posted in How to, Life stories, Personal historian, Tips
Tagged Association of Personal Historians, Finding personal historian, How to, Life stories, life story, Personal historian, search for, Tips