Category Archives: Life stories

Encore! My Dears, Don’t Miss These 20 Fabulous Articles on Interviewing!

A good personal history interview is like a symphony – complex, engaging, and harmonious. Over the past three years I’ve written extensively about the art of the interview and assembled these articles here in one convenient list. Enjoy!…Read more.

Encore! How Old Letters and Recovered Memories Bring Satisfaction and Hope.

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others.
 ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Last week I was doing some spring cleaning and came across a collection of letters I had written to my parents some forty-five years ago. At the time, I was a young man teaching in Ghana. After University I’d joined CUSO, a Canadian voluntary organization similar to the Peace Corps, and had been assigned to the West African country for two years. I’d asked my mother to keep these letters as a partial record of my experience…Read more.

Encore! Being Relaxed Makes People Spend More Freely.

The  recent issue of  the Journal of Marketing Research  examined the correlation between relaxation and consumer spending. It turns out that all things being equal consumers are more willing to pay higher prices if they feel relaxed…Read more.

Encore! 5 Reasons You Should Consider a Video Life Story.

videoMost people when they consider a life story project think of a book. There are a lot of good reasons for producing a book. But I’ll be honest. I have a video bias because producing video personal histories is my specialty. I also produce books  but video is my passion. To see a sample of my work click here. So why should you consider a video for your or someone else’s  personal history? Here are five good reasons…Read more.

Encore! What Do You Do When Facing a Reluctant Family Story Teller?

How many personal historians have found themselves in this situation? You have an enthusiastic client,  an adult child who really wants her mom or dad’s  life story told, but the parent is reluctant…Read more.

Encore! When Small Can Be Profound.

Not long ago I was asked to audio record some final words from a young mother who was dying from cancer.  I’ll call her Sonia to protect the family’s privacy. She was in her early thirties and she wanted to leave something for her only child, a five-year-old boy…Read more.

Encore! More Free Resources!

As those of you who frequent my site know, I occasionally pull together free Internet resources. Previously I compiled a mega list of 100 Free Resources for Personal Historians. This was followed by 20 More Free Resources for Personal Historians and More Free Stuff! Well I’m back with more free resources to help you with your personal history work. Please note I don’t personally endorse any of these sites because I haven’t tested or used all of them. If you are familiar with some of these services  or products and would like to leave a comment about your experience with them, I’d welcome such a review…Read more.

Encore! Are You Asking the Courageous Questions?

Marc Pachter founded  Living Self-Portraits at the Smithsonian and was its master interviewer.  In his TED talk below he shares the challenges of getting a good interview.

…if all you’re going to get from the interviewee is their public self, there’s no point in it. It’s pre-programmed. It’s infomercial, and we all have infomercials about our lives. We know the great lines, we know the great moments, we know what we’re not going to share, …

Marc recounts several interviews and how he cut below the surface conversation to have his subjects reveal the truth of their lives…Read more.

Encore! 7 Essential Questions to Consider Before Offering a Personal History Service to the Terminally Ill.

I know some of you are interested in the possibility of providing personal history services to the terminally ill. I’ve been helping those at the end-of-life record their personal histories  as well as volunteering at Victoria Hospice for the past five years.  I find it tremendously satisfying work but it’s not for everyone. If you’re seriously contemplating working with the dying, here are seven questions to ponder… Read more.

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

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…Read more.