Monthly Archives: July 2010

Attention Personal Historians! Don’t Miss These Movies!

Get out the popcorn, turn down the lights, and settle back for a feast of  “personal history” films.  These movies vary in quality but are all worth viewing. They address issues that we have an interest in as personal historians. I must admit my two favorites are Big Fish by American director Tim Burton and The Barbarian Invasions by Canadian director Denys Arcand.

If you have some favorites that aren’t on my list,  let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Must Read After My Death. (2008) “While raising a family of four in 1960s Connecticut, Allis and Charley tried to repair their marriage by turning to therapy, the consequences of which are revealed in a bombshell collection of audio diaries, left to the children after Allis’s death. For filmmaker Morgan Dews, what began as a simple documentary about his grandmother becomes a shocking portrait of one American family, as well as a detailed rendering of a bygone era.”  ~ Netflix

51 Birch Street. (2006) “Married 54 years, Mike and Mina Block were the picture of if not wedded bliss then at least rock-solid stability — or so thought their son, documentary filmmaker Doug Block. But when his mother dies unexpectedly and his father swiftly marries his former secretary, Doug suddenly realizes there was more to his parents’ union than met his eye. Turning his lens on his own family, he discovers much he never knew about the people who raised him.” ~ Netflix

Uncle Nino. (2005)  “An elderly Italian peasant who barely speaks English, Uncle Nino (Pierrino Mascarino) travels to America to reconnect with nephew Robert (Joe Mantegna) and his family (played by Anne Archer, Gina Mantegna and Trevor Morgan). Trouble is, nobody communicates because they’re too busy leading hectic, disconnected lives. It’s up to wise Uncle Nino to bring them together and teach them what’s important in life: each other. Robert Shallcross directed. ” ~ Netflix

The Notebook. (2004) “Two young lovers (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) are torn apart by war and class differences in the 1940s in this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s best-selling novel. Their story is told by a man (James Garner) who, years later, reads from a notebook while he visits a woman in a nursing home (Gena Rowlands). Nick Cassavetes directs this heart-tugging romance about the sacrifices people will make to hang on to their one true love.”  ~ Netflix

The Final Cut. (2004) “Robin Williams stars in this futuristic tale as Alan Hakman, a “cutter” who edits people’s digital memories into compositions fit for viewing at their funerals — but things change when he finds his own childhood memory in the databank of a client. This thriller also stars Mira Sorvino as Hakman’s girlfriend and Jim Caviezel as a former cutter who is in search of a corporate bigwig’s incriminating footage.” ~ Netflix

Big Fish. (2003) “In this Tim Burton fantasy based on the novel by Daniel Wallace, William Bloom (Billy Crudup) tries to learn more about his dying father, Edward, by piecing together disparate facts from a lifetime of fantastical tales and legends of epic proportions.”  ~ Netflix

The Barbarian Invasions. (2003) “When 50-something divorcé Rémy (Rémy Girard) is hospitalized for terminal cancer, his estranged son, Sébastien (Stéphane Rousseau), returns home to make amends in this Oscar-winning sequel to Denys Arcand’s Decline of the American Empire. As Sébastien steers through the moldering health care system to bring comfort to his father, he finds common ground with Rémy as he learns about the man through friends and lovers from his complicated past.” ~ Netflix

Iris. (2001) “Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench and Kate Winslet, in Oscar-nominated roles) was l’enfant terrible of the literary world in early 1950s Britain — a live wire who thumbed her nose at conformity via a voracious and scandalous sexual appetite. In this snippet of her life, an aging Murdoch (Dench) faces the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and the loss of memories about her younger self (Winslet). Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for his portrayal of her husband.” ~ Netflix

In the Arms of Strangers. (2000) “Filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris’s Oscar-winning documentary tells the story of an underground railroad — the Kindertransport — that saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children at the dawn of World War II. Through interviews and archival footage, the survivors movingly recount being taken from their families and sent to live with strangers in the relative safety of England. Judi Dench narrates.” ~ Netflix

After Life. (1999) “At a way station somewhere between heaven and earth, the newly dead are greeted by guides. Over the next three days, they will help the dead sift through their  memories to find the one defining moment of their lives. The chosen moment will be re-created on film and taken with them when the dead pass on to heaven. This grave, beautifully crafted film reveals the surprising and ambiguous consequences of human recollection.” ~ Netflix

Nobody’s Business. (1996) “Director Alan Berliner takes on his reclusive father as the reluctant subject of this family documentary. Through interviews with his father, mother, sister, and other family members, Berliner examines his father’s personality, family dynamics, and history.” ~ Library Media Project.

My Life. (1993) “Advertising executive Michael Keaton has it all: a beautiful, pregnant wife (Nicole Kidman), a great job, a stately house … and three months to live. Tears are jerked in this affecting drama as Keaton tries to make up for lost time and come to terms with the inevitable end of his life. Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) makes his directing debut here.” ~ Netflix

Defending Your Life. (1991) “After Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) crashes his BMW convertible into a bus, he’s transported to “Judgment City,” where he meets the love of his life, Julia (Meryl Steep). Unfortunately, Daniel needs to defend his life on Earth before he can ascend to heaven with Julia. He frantically attempts to explain the positive things he’s accomplished, but soon realizes that Julia may be too good for him.” ~ Netflix

On Golden Pond. (1981) “An aging couple Ethel and Norman Thayer (“Ethel Thayer, I almost didn’t marry you cause it sounded like a lisp.”), who spend each summer at their home on Golden Pond. They are visited by daughter Chelsea with her fiancé, where they drop off his rebellious son. The story explores the relationship, among other things the relationship that she had with her father growing up, as well as what can happen to a couple in the later years of a long marriage.”  ~ The Internet Movie Database

I Never Sang for My Father.
(1970) “Hackman plays a New York professor who wants a change in his life, and plans to get married to his girlfriend and move to California. His mother understands his need to get away, but warns him that moving so far away could be hard on his father. Just before the wedding, the mother dies. Hackman’s sister (who has been disowned by their father for marrying a Jewish man) advises him to live his own life, and not let himself be controlled by their father.” ~ The Internet Movie Database

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Are You Part of “The Great Vacationless Class”?

Anne Morrow Lindbergh observed that,  for the most part,  mothers and housewives were the “great vacationless class”  because they had little time off. I would add the self-employed to her list.

If you’re self-employed as I am, it’s often difficult to see your way to a holiday. You’re either too busy or too broke or both. I haven’t had a vacation for a long time. So I decided that it was time to hang up my Gone Fishin’ sign and take a vacation in August. Nothing fancy. Two weeks in and around my hometown of Victoria.

Here are a few tips that you might find useful if you’re still struggling with the notion of taking a vacation.

  • Silence the “Gremlins”. As soon as I think or say “vacation”,  my inner critics start whispering. That’s irresponsible.  People depend on you. Your business will fail. You’ll lose clients ! Gremlins want to keep the status quo. You need to recognize these voices for what they are  and politely tell them to “Get lost”. If  you don’t, you’ll end up chained to your desk.
  • Plan ahead and set  firm dates. Setting dates forces you to make a commitment. I’m closing up the office on August 20th and returning two weeks later on September 4th. It’s critical to allow yourself several weeks lead time. The more the better. This allows you to wrap up projects or stages of a project. Don’t cram everything into the final week before your vacation. You’ll end up exhausted and won’t  enjoy your time off. Make sure that you don’t plan any project work the week you return. This will allow you to settle in and catch up on e-mails and other administrative matters.
  • Inform your current clients. This post is a way of letting all of my loyal readers know that I’m not going to be writing any new material for the two weeks I’m on vacation. I’ll still be posting three times a week but these will be articles from my archives. Don’t try to pretend that you’re still at your desk. Letting clients know of your vacation avoids the embarrassment of their trying to reach you and not getting a reply for a couple of weeks. Trust that your clients understand that you’re human and like everyone else need some free time.
  • Set up an e-mail auto-responder. Even though I’m having a “staycation”, I’ll resist the temptation to peak at my e-mails. I’m going to leave an auto-responder message that goes something like, “Thank you for contacting me. I’m currently away from my desk and unavailable from August 21st until September 5th. I’ll answer your e-mail on my return. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.”
  • Leave a vacation voice-message on your answering service. Even if you’re staying close to home on your vacation, you don’t want the interruption of business calls. That’s why I’ll be adding a telephone message that says something like, “Thanks for calling. I’m away from my desk until September 5th. Please leave a message and I’ll be happy to return your call when I’m back. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.” A word of caution. It’s advisable in both your e-mail and telephone messages not to give the impression that you’ve left your home or office vacant. This information could fall into the wrong hands and lead to a robbery.
  • Relax. It sounds obvious. But if you’re like me, you probably have what I’d call the “Manager of the Universe” syndrome. It goes, “The world will stop spinning on its axis if I’m not at my desk 24/7.” Well I know and you know that’s ridiculous. It’s quite amazing how the world keeps turning even when we’re not involved. So, I’m giving myself permission not to worry and  just to relax.

Photo by The Hamster Factor

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday’s Link Roundup has some creative ways to tell stories. There’s Levi Strauss & Co.’s EXPLORE which uses video vignettes to tell the story of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Facebook has launched Facebook Stories. My favorite link is RFID Tags used to attach stories to charity shop’s donated goods.

  • EXPLORE. “In 2010, Levi Strauss & Co. began a collaboration in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a broken town struggling to reinvent itself. As part of this collaboration, Levi Strauss & Co. invested in Braddock’s community center, public library, and urban farm. The result is a campaign that tells the story of the people of Braddock.”
  • Free Genealogy Books on The Internet Archive. “The Internet Archive, also known as “The Wayback Machine,” is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.”
  • Facebook Stories. “Facebook will finally reach the impressive 500 million user milestone sometime this coming week. To celebrate, it’ll launch “Facebook Stories,” a visual memorial to all the ways the social network has changed people’s lives.”
  • Luxury Lit: A Book For $75,000. “For $75,000, you can buy a piece of Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar. Taschen contracted the Vatican’s book binder to put together SUMO because it was so large. Luxury publisher Kraken Opus mixed in a pint of Mr. Tendulkar’s blood with paper pulp to create the signature page for a book celebrating the renowned batsman’s career. The 10 limited-edition copies, which comes out in February, cost $75,000 each and have already sold out.”
  • Momma, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away. “This week, Kodachrome went away. The last roll of Kodachrome film was developed at Dwayne’s Photo Service in Parsons, Kansas. We have witnessed an historic shift in technology.”

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Life Stories and Palliative Care. When Time Is Running Out, What Do You Focus On?

At  Victoria Hospice we’re into the third year of a Life Stories  service for patients registered with Hospice.  This is a program that I initiated and continue to be involved with as  a trainer and a mentor for our Life Stories Volunteer Interviewers.

Among the concerns that have arisen for the Interviewers, one, in particular, has been problematic. What part of a Life Story do you focus on when it appears patients may have only a few weeks or days to live? Patients may initially indicate that they want to talk about the broad spectrum of their lives from childhood to the present. The reality, unfortunately, is that they’re not likely to have enough time to complete such an undertaking.

Here’s what I’ve suggested. The Hospice Interviewer and patient agree to start with contemplative questions first. These are questions that reveal something of who the person, rather than the details of their life. If time permits, they can always go back to talk about childhood beginnings and the important stories from their life. So what might some of these contemplative questions be? Here are some samples.

  • What would you like to say to your loved ones?
  • What has been important in your life?
  • What are you the proudest of in your life?
  • What do you admire most about each of your children?
  • What has brought happiness to your life?
  • What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in life?
  • What regrets do you have?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • What is it that most people don’t know about you?
  • What are you grateful for?

Even if you’re not involved with palliative-care patients, you may find yourself at times interviewing someone who’s very frail and elderly. There’s no guarantee that time is on your side. In such cases you may want to give some thought as to what’s  essential to record. Focusing on more contemplative questions may be the answer.

Photo by Jill  Watson

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Book or Video? Which Makes a Better Personal History?

It’s fair to say that most clients think of a life story in book form rather than video. That’s why I previously  wrote 5 Reasons You Should Consider a Video Life Story where I extolled the virtues of video. As I said then, I have a bias because my background is in documentary filmmaking. But I’ve also produced several books.  So which is better? Each format has its strengths and weaknesses. You be the judge. Here are six areas where books triumph over videos.

  • Books will last. Printed on archival paper and properly stored, books will be around longer than any current digital media. The best “guesstimate” for  DVDs is a lifespan that ranges from 5 years to over 100 years depending on the manufacturing process of the DVD and its storage. But the bottom line is that no one knows for certain.
  • Print books don’t require hardware to read them. Digital hardware and formats continue to change. There’s a thriving business in transferring old media to current formats. Who out there doesn’t have a box of old videotapes waiting to be digitized? But you can still pick up a book printed a century ago and read it.
  • Books capture detail. Books are splendid at documenting the intricacies and depth of a story. This isn’t video’s strength. Video prefers a broader stroke and emotional content over detail.
  • Books have presence. You can hold a book in your hand. It has weight, texture, and odor. It almost demands that you pay attention. A DVD case, no matter how attractive the labeling, feels  insubstantial.
  • Books are convenient. You don’t have to plug them in, recharge batteries, or worry about dropping them.  You can pick up a book and in an instant start reading.
  • Books are  accessible. An attractive Life Story book set out on a coffee table invites friends and family to pick it up. Unlike viewing a video there’s no need to set up equipment.

How many of you provide your potential clients with a choice of a book or video personal history? Do you think you should?

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday Link’s Roundup has two items you’ll not want to miss. The first is the Free One Day Online Conference which offers a wonderful opportunity to learn how social media can support your business. The second is The Gardener’s Bucket List which illustrates yet another creative way that family stories can be told.

  • Book Review: The Last Muster by Maureen Taylor. “I sat down yesterday evening to read a new book by Maureen Taylor with significant contributions by David Allen Lambert: The Last Muster – Images of the Revolutionary War Generation. I figured I’d spend an hour or so speed-reading it, and then I would write a review and go to bed early. I was wrong! I ended up reading every word, looking at every picture, and not writing the review at all until today. The book is that interesting.”
  • MacFamilyTree. Version 6.0 Public Beta. “Easily enter and then visualize your family history. Be it creating reports, diagrams or browsing your data in the innovative 3D view called Virtual Tree – MacFamilyTree offers a solution for every task. Get an overview of where you hail from and maybe enthuse your relatives about exploring your family’s past at your upcoming family reunion.”
  • The Gardner’s Bucket List.  “I never really wrote anything down when I was a young gardener my successes and failures drifted off with memory. But when I had children I realized how important a garden journal really was in my busy life. My journal has become a family history along with a record of my garden successes and failures…Allow your gardener’s journals to stand in honor with your photo albums and pictures because as some of my stories have proven they can create a more vivid picture of your time, your family, and your land.”
  • Jewish History of the Late 1940s in Color Videos.“Fred Monosson, a Boston Jewish multimillionaire, purchased one of the first privately-owned portable color movie cameras in the 1940s, then traveled to Europe and Israel to record the historical formation of the state of Israel in color…His grandchildren recently cleaned out the house to prepare it for sale and were about to throw out the old films, believing that nobody would want them. However, one of the grandchildren decided to first call a friend who was an Israeli movie director.”
  • Hey, Doc, I’m a story, not just a symptom. “Having moved so many times in my adult life, I’ve rarely had the chance to really connect with “my” doctors. Some make it easier than others. They are the ones who know how to listen, who want to know the context of whatever symptoms walk through the door. They want to know my story.”

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Are You Using Storytelling to Promote Your Personal History Service?

For most of the 190,000 years that humans have been alive on this earth, they’ve learned their most important information, including survival skills, culture, religion, etc., through stories. The human brain, in fact, is wired specifically so that stories, and storytelling, have a much stronger emotional impact than information that’s presented quantitatively or according to some other emotionless structure.

~ marketing guru, Michael Bosworth

It’s the right side of our brain that harbors our creativity and emotions. It’s where storytelling has its impact. People are drawn to telling their personal histories by such deep seated desires as  leaving a legacy, capturing fond memories, or finding meaning in their lives.  They’ll ultimately make a decision to engage your services based on emotional not quantitative information. If you’re not making “storytelling” a part of  your presentation, you’re losing clients. In a BNET interview with Michael Bosworth he says,

The emotional brain is where the ‘aha’ moments happen. Where the “I want that” or “I need that” feelings happen. The buyer has “gut reaction” and an image that allows them to make an emotional decision, such as the decision to trust someone or buy something. They can feel it and see it rather than quantifying.

How can you use storytelling to engage prospective clients?

Here are four tips:

  1. Start with a story from your own experience. Your story should convey the delight, poignancy, and impact that life stories can have for individuals and their families. For me, the story I previously wrote, When Small Can Be Profound, about a dying mother and her young child is a powerful reminder of the invaluable  nature of our work.
  2. Borrow a story. If  you don’t have a personal story  that suits your needs, then find one that does. For example, in  How a Prehistoric Cave Painting Came to My Rescue, I found symbolism that spoke to my suspicion that storytelling is part of our DNA. Another story I want to use some day is  from James Loewen’s book Lies My Teacher Told Me. He writes that in some African societies,

The recently departed whose time overlapped with people still here are the Sasha, the living dead. They are not wholly dead, for they live on in the memories of the living … when the last person knowing an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the Sasha for the Zamani, the dead.

One might say that the Zamani are truly dead for no one currently living knew them. What a powerful reason for ensuring that our loved one’s stories are preserved so that they might continue to live in the hearts of those far into the future.

3. Be a good listener. This shouldn’t be difficult for personal historians. That’s what we do! It’s important to listen for the stories that are behind a person’s interest in hiring you. Ask questions that will help draw these stories out. They might be stories that relate to leaving a recorded legacy or perhaps a document that speaks to their beliefs, values, and wisdom learned. Whatever it is, be assured that there are very real emotional reasons for someone wanting to record a life story.

4. Retell your clients’ stories. In retelling your clients’ stories you not only demonstrate that you’re a good listener but you also help reinforce your clients’ “right brain” reasons for wanting to record a life story. As Michael Bosworth says,

Then, and only then, are you ready to sell, because then you can retell the customer story with a different ending or a new sequel, with your offering playing a role in the story. It’s also useful to have a quiver of “here’s how I’ve helped other people” stories, so that you can help the prospect visualize a future that includes you and your offering.

What of your own experience? Have you used stories to promote your personal history service?

Image by Ronda  Del Boccio

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15 Great Memoirs Written by Women.

I don’t know about you but I find a friend’s assessment of a book is often as good, if  not better than, that of  some of the reviewers. That’s why I wanted to share with you this list, compiled by some of my colleagues in the Association of Personal Historians.  Here are fifteen gems to add to your list of summer reading.

What’s your favorite memoir written by a woman? I’d love to hear from you.

An American Childhood. Annie Dillard. Harper Perennial; 1st Perennial Library Ed edition (July 20, 1988)
“Dillard’s luminous prose painlessly captures the pain of growing up in this wonderful evocation of childhood. Her memoir is partly a hymn to Pittsburgh, where orange streetcars ran on Penn Avenue in 1953 when she was eight, and where the Pirates were always in the cellar.”  From Publishers Weekly

Pilgrim At Tinker Creek. Annie Dillard. Harper Perennial Modern Classics (October 28, 1998)
“The book is a form of meditation, written with headlong urgency, about seeing. A reader’s heart must go out to a young writer with a sense of wonder so fearless and unbridled…There is an ambition about her book that I like…It is the ambition to feel.”  Eudora Welty, New York Times Book Review

Balsamroot: A Memoir. Mary Clearman Blew. Penguin (Non-Classics) (July 1, 1995)
“Blew mines the repository of her aunt’s memoirs and diaries, uncovering near-revelations that suggest Imogene’s life was far from what it appeared to be.
The memoir is energized by the search and by the author’s connectedness to a Montana heritage.” From Publishers Weekly

Bone Deep in Landscape: Writing, Reading, and Place. Mary Clearman Blew. University of Oklahoma Press (September 2000)
“I cannot reconcile myself to the loss of landscape, which for me often is an analogy for my own body…. And yet I know that I have never owned the landscape.” In her second collection of essays (after All but the Waltz), Blew again demonstrates her artistry and strong connection to the Western terrain of her past and present homes in Montana and Idaho.”  From Publishers Weekly

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. Haven Kimmel.Broadway; Today Show Book Club edition (September 3, 2002)
“It’s a cliché‚ to say that a good memoir reads like a well-crafted work of fiction, but Kimmel’s smooth, impeccably humorous prose evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel.” From Publishers Weekly

The Leopard Hat: A Daughter’s Story. Valerie Steiker. Vintage (May 6, 2003)
“In this finely etched memoir, Steiker relives her childhood the family apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,
the Parisian escapes with her mother, the family holidays in India and Nepal in delicious, Proustian detail.”  From Publishers Weekly

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression. Mildred Armstrong Kalish. (Bantam Books, 2007)
“Simple, detailed and honest, this is a refreshing and informative read for anyone interested in the struggles of average Americans in the thick of the Great Depression.” From Publishers Weekly

Lazy B. Sandra Day O’Connor.Modern Library; First Edition edition (November 1, 2005)
“A collaboration between O’Connor and her brother, the book recounts the lives of their parents “MO” and “DA” (pronounced “M.O.” and “D.A.”) and the colorful characters who helped run the Lazy B ranch.”  From Publishers Weekly

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. Maxine Hong Kingston. Vintage; Vintage International Edition edition (April 23, 1989)
“The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California.”  From Amazon.com Review

Personal History. Katharine Graham.Vintage; Reprint edition (February 24, 1998).
“This is the story of a newspaper’s rise to power but also of the destruction of a marriage, as Philip Graham slid into alcohol, depression, and suicide, and of Katharine’s rise as a powerful woman in her own right.”  From Library Journal

Some Memories of a Long Life [1854-1911]. Malvina Shanklin Harlan. Modern Library (July 8, 2003)
“These memoirs by the wife of a noted Supreme Court justice, John Marshall Harlan, first appeared last summer in the Journal of Supreme Court History…. Justice Harlan, though a former slave-holder, is remembered for his lone and eloquent dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that established the doctrine of “separate but equal.” From Publishers Weekly

The Road from Coorain. Jill Ker Conway.Vintage Books; First Vintage Books edition (August 11, 1990)
“At age 11, Conway ( Women Reformers and American Culture ) left the arduous life on her family’s sheep farm in the Australian outback for school in war-time Sydney, burdened by an emotionally dependent, recently widowed mother. A lively curiosity and penetrating intellect illuminate this unusually objective account of the author’s progress from a solitary childhood–the most appealing part of the narrative–to public achievement as president of Smith College and now professor at MIT.” From Publishers Weekly

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less. Terry Ryan. Simon & Schuster (August 30, 2005)
“Married to a man with violent tendencies and a severe drinking problem, Evelyn Ryan managed to keep her 10 children fed and housed during the 1950s and ’60s by entering–and winning–contests for rhymed jingles and advertising slogans of 25-words-or-less. This engaging and quick-witted biography written by daughter Terry… relates how Evelyn submitted multiple entries, under various names, for contests sponsored by Dial soap, Lipton soup, Paper Mate pens, Kleenex Tissues and any number of other manufacturers, and won a wild assortment of prizes, including toasters, bikes, basketballs, and all-you-can-grab supermarket shopping sprees.”  From Publishers Weekly

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster; First Paper edition (June 2, 1998)
“Goodwin recounts some wonderful stories in this coming-of-age tale about both her family and an era when baseball truly was the national pastime that brought whole communities together. From details of specific games to descriptions of players, including Jackie Robinson, a great deal of the narrative centers around the sport.”  From Library Journal

A Romantic Education. Patricia Hampl. W. W. Norton & Company; 10 Anv edition (June 1, 1999)
“A now classic memoir, described by Doris Grumbach as “unusually elegant and meditative,” once more available with an updated afterword by the author. Golden Prague seemed mostly gray when Patricia Hampl first went there in quest of her Czech heritage. In that bleak time, no one could have predicted the political upheaval awaiting Communist Europe and the city of Kafka and Rilke. Hampl’s subsequent memoir, a brilliant evocation of Czech life under socialism, attained the stature of living history, and added to our understanding not only of Central Europe but also of what it means to be engaged in the struggle of a people to define and affirm themselves.”  From Product Description

Photo by Kathryn

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup, STORY in Photography is a fascinating look into the challenges of telling a story in a single photograph. And if you’re a nut about fonts, don’t miss Graphic Content | A Fount of Fonts.

  • 101 Best Genealogy Websites of 2010. “From state vital records and censuses to historical books and immigration data, this year’s 101 Best Websites list features tools that can bust your brick walls — but not your budget.”
  • STORY in Photography. “An understanding of the elements of story and how they can be incorporated into your images will make stronger images…Four aspects of storytelling come to mind as I consider the unique challenges of storytelling within the confines of a single photographic frame; themes that tie the image to our deeper, more universal human experience; conflict; mystery; and the relationships between the characters.”
  • Graphic Content | A Fount of Fonts.Tipoteca Italiana is a private foundation that was founded in 1995 to advance printing knowledge and preserve venerable printing technologies. Its founder, Silvio Antiga, a 65-year-old printer who owns a printing firm in the Veneto region, has collected more than 20 vintage presses and typesetting machines, along with hundreds of wood and metal type “fonts.” The smartly designed, modern museum includes a working print shop, which employs master craftsmen who hand-set type and pull proofs. It is open to the public — more than 8,000 people visit each year — and has become a mecca for designers and students from all over the world.” [Thanks to APH member Marcy Davis for alerting me to this item.]
  • U.S. public libraries: We lose them at our peril. “The U.S. is beginning an interesting experiment in democracy: We’re cutting public library funds, shrinking our public and school libraries, and in some places, shutting them altogether…The school libraries and public libraries in which we’ve invested decades and even centuries of resources will disappear unless we fight for them. Those in cities that haven’t preserved their libraries, those less fortunate and baffled by technology, and our children will be the first to suffer. But sooner or later, we’ll all feel the loss as one of the most effective levelers of privilege and avenues of reinvention — one of the great engines of democracy — begins to disappear.” [Thanks to cj madigan of Shoebox Stories for alerting me to this item.]
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History. “Your stories and the stories of the people around you are unique, valuable treasures for your family and your community. You and your family members can preserve unwritten family history using oral history techniques…As a door into the world of oral history, these pages give basic suggestions for collecting and preserving the valuable oral treasures around you, to enrich you and future generations.”

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I’m Celebrating!

This week marks an important anniversary for me. Drum roll, please!

Two years ago I launched this blog and wrote my first post. Since then I’ve written  310 articles and 41,365 viewers have visited the site. A big thank you to all of you who’ve dropped by. And a special thanks to those who’ve taken the time to leave a comment or two.

From the collection of articles, I’ve selected 15 of my favorites. These are not necessarily the ones that received the most attention from readers but they are the posts that I really like and I think deserve an encore. For those of you who haven’t seen these posts, I invite you to stop awhile and have a read.

Photo by Jule_Berlin

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