Tag Archives: oral history

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup, don’t pass up Affirmation, Etched in Vinyl. It speaks passionately to why personal historians do the work they do. As someone who loves a pen in my hand, I was intrigued by Why creative writing is better with a pen. For a little blast of nostalgia, take a look at What Record Stores Looked Like in the 1960s.

  • How Do You Spell Ms. “Forty years ago, a group of feminists, led by Gloria Steinem, did the unthinkable: They started a magazine for women, published by women—and the first issue sold out in eight days. An oral history of a publication that changed history.”
  • Getting Ready for Next Year–Now. “While the end of the year is likely not in the minds of many, it’s closer than you may think.So before the ball drops and that tax deadline gets even closer, it’s a good time to think about the many things you can do to prepare for the end of the year–and the promising year ahead.”
  • Why creative writing is better with a pen. “In a wonderful article published on the New York Review of Books blog the poet Charles Simic proclaimed “writing with a pen or pencil on a piece of paper is becoming an infrequent activity”. Simic was praising the use of notebooks of course, and, stationery fetishism aside, it got me thinking about authors who write their novels and poems longhand into notebooks rather than directly onto the screen.”
  • Affirmation, Etched in Vinyl. “For years I tried to construct a viable idea of my long-gone father by piecing together scraps of other people’s memories. I was only 6 when he died,…My father’s death stole many things from me, including the sound of his voice. For instance, I have tried to remember his laughter from that final night — its timbre and roll — but my mind is an erased tape. I possess the knowledge of his laughter and of Angie and Johnny’s bubbly white noise but have no memory of the sounds themselves. It’s as if I have garnered these details by reading a biography penned by a stranger.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this item.]
  • 7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless. “Life can be a huge struggle, most of the time, and for years it was a struggle for me.I’ve gradually been learning what causes that struggle, and what works in making life easier, better, smoother.Life can feel effortless, like you’re gliding along, if you learn to swim smoothly, to glide, to stop fighting the waters of life and start using them to buoy you up.”
  • What Record Stores Looked Like in the 1960s. “Just think: kids being born today will probably never see the inside of a record store. And why would they? Buying music used to involve wandering around a store browsing, picking things up based on cover art, putting them down based on scornful glares from record store employees, and generally being outside your house. Now, buying music usually amounts to nothing more than a click of the mouse from the safety of your couch.”

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Encore! As Personal Historians, How Do We Rekindle “The Sacred” in Our Work?

Last year I had the privilege of hearing First Nation elder STOLȻEȽ ( John Elliot) of the WASÁNEĆ (Saanich) territory address the 16th Annual APH Conference in Victoria, B.C.  He spoke reverently of the stories that were passed down to him about the land and sea and animals and the values to live by… Read more.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian compatriots! This Monday’s Link Roundup has its usual eclectic mix of articles. One on my favorites is 7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups. If you’re looking for something to lighten your day, then one of these books may just do the trick. Also don’t miss a fascinating story about Vintage Report Cards from the early 1900s and what they reveal about daily life.

  • The Benefits of Speaking Aloud. “Giving sound to what had been a silent process puts writers in the role of their readers. This extra step gives writers an objective view of their content. Bestselling author Nicholson Baker calls his version of the verbalizing process “speak-typing,” in which he dictates to himself and types as he speaks.”
  • 7 Playful Activity Books for Grown-Ups. “The intersection of childhood and adulthood is a frequent area of curiosity around here, from beloved children’s books with timeless philosophy for adults to quirky coloring books for the eternal kid. Today, we turn to seven wonderful activity books for grown-ups that inject a little more whimsy and playfulness into your daily grind.”
  • When a Dictionary Could Outrage. “…the furor over Webster’s Third [1961] also marked the end of an era. It’s a safe bet that no new dictionary will ever incite a similar uproar, whatever it contains. The dictionary simply doesn’t have the symbolic importance it did a half-­century ago, when critics saw the Third as a capitulation to the despised culture of middlebrow, what Dwight Macdonald called the “tepid ooze of Midcult.” That was probably the last great eructation of cultural snobbery in American public life.”
  • Five ways to work a conference. “It’s conference season, and the challenge for most attendees is how to turn the hothouse of ideas they are exposed to into marked improvement back in the office.” [Thanks to Philip Sherwood of Lifewriters for alerting me to this item.]
  • Vintage Report Cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. “After discovering hundreds of early 1900s report cards from the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, Paul Lukas is publishing his findings online in a series called “Permanent Record” on Slate. The written assessments are historical artifacts as well as ephemeral relics of daily life, describing some students as “slow,” and others as “very ambitious,” “irritable at times,” or a “nice type.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this  Monday’s Link Roundup have some fun with Literary Games for Bored Book Nerds. For something serious be sure to read Oral history, unprotected.  And memoir writers will find two interesting articles, What Exactly Happened and ‘Memoir Project’ Gives Tips For Telling Your Story.

  • On Acknowledgements. “Anyone who wants to study writers’ idiosyncrasies need look no further than their acknowledgments…Acknowledgments also offer an all-too-rare view of the writer as actual human being.”
  • Oral history, unprotected. “Researchers who conduct oral history have no right to expect courts to respect confidentiality pledges made to interview subjects, according to a brief filed by the US Justice Department on Friday.”
  • The case for and against the Oxford comma. “When linking three or more elements, some writers place a comma before the “and”: bell, book, and candle. That’s known as the Oxford comma (or serial comma). Other writers don’t use that comma: bell, book and candle. Wars have been fought over less.”
  • Literary Games for Bored Book Nerds. “In the New York Times this week, Dwight Garner writes about literary games one can play with friends that aren’t anxiety-inducing. He writes, “Many people flee from games they fear will be public I.Q. tests or will expose gaps in their literary knowledge.” So true. Which is why we at Flavorpill would like to introduce a few games into your summer repertoire,..”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup be sure to take a look at the charming Dear Sophie. It’s a little over a minute long and points to the increasingly creative ways we can tell  our stories.  With the 70th anniversary of the premiere of Citizen Kane you’ll want to read Jane Shafron’s perceptive article, Video Biographers: 5 Quick Tips from Citizen Kane.

  • Top 10 Genealogy Mistakes to Avoid. “If you are new to genealogy research…there are ten key mistakes that you will want to avoid in order to make your search a successful and pleasant experience.”
  • Dear Sophie. “A father uses the web to share memories with his daughter as she grows up in this video depiction.”
  • 100 Digital Storytelling Tools: Part 1. “Here are the first 25 digital storytelling tools that you can use … to tell your digital story. I’m sure you are already familiar with some of them and I hope you can find new tools to use.”
  • Video Biographers:5 Quick Tips from Citizen Kane. “For video biographers, personal documentary makers, and all of us interested in preserving personal and family history, Citizen Kane is still surprisingly rich in lessons and inspiration, and well worth the rental of the video DVD. So, what are some of the lessons from Citizen Kane that we can apply to our work?”
  • Grief Observed: Using Movies to Move through Grief. “Movies and DVD rentals that dramatize others coming to terms with their pain may serve as a valuable tool to help you and your family members move through the grieving process…Movies can be an effective tool in addressing certain grief issues, especially when your selections are made consciously and deliberately.”
  • The Case for Cursive. “The sinuous letters of the cursive alphabet, swirled on countless love letters, credit card slips and banners above elementary school chalk boards are going the way of the quill and inkwell. With computer keyboards and smartphones increasingly occupying young fingers, the gradual death of the fancier ABC’s is revealing some unforeseen challenges.”
  • ‘Secret’ Love Stories Revealed. “Choreography that includes oral components, historical research and overt storytelling is increasingly fashionable in modern dance. Sean Dorsey, the first transgender artist to be named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” and winner of two Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, is using this approach in an ambitious attempt to express the love stories of transgender and queer people from the 1920s to the present.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

To spice up the beginning of your week, this Monday’s Link Roundup includes  Vanity Fair. Writers Reading with  Susie Bright reading from her memoir Big Sex Little Death.  If you’re new to video editing, head over to The Basics of Video Editing. It’s a terrific resource. One of my favorites this week has to be The Book Surgeon. To say it’s incredible doesn’t do this work justice.

  • Cooking Tales: 10 Delicious Memoirs from Chefs. “The past few years, we’ve watched “foodie” culture explode into prime time, elevating many chefs to celebrity status. It’s no wonder, then, that the chef memoir has become as much of an art form as cooking itself.”
  • For Dying People, A Chance To Shape Their Legacy. “Imagine that you’ve just been told you have only a short time to live. What would you want your family and community to remember most about you? In St. Louis, a hospice program called Lumina helps patients leave statements that go beyond a simple goodbye.”
  • Vanity Fair. Writers Reading: Susie Bright Reads from Big Sex Little Death. “Susie Bright has never been one to shy away from discussing sexuality, erotica, and feminism, becoming one of America’s leading “sexperts.” In her new book, Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir (Seal Press/Audible), Bright traces her entertaining and influential political/sexual revolution—from a fearsome Irish Catholic Girl Scout to teenage radical in The Red Tide and International Socialists to co-founder of On Our Backs, the first erotic magazine created by women.” [Thanks to APH member, Catherine McCrum for alerting me to this item. ]
  • The Book Surgeon. “Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Brian Dettmer carves one page at a time. Nothing inside the out-of-date encyclopedias, medical journals, illustration books, or dictionaries is relocated or implanted, only removed.Dettmer manipulates the pages and spines to form the shape of his sculptures. He also folds, bends, rolls, and stacks multiple books to create completely original sculptural forms.” [Thanks to Beth LaMie of One Story at a Time for alerting me to this item.]
  • The Basics of Video Editing: The Complete Guide. “These lessons concentrate primarily on editing video in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be helpful for other editing software. The idea behind having the lessons with both applications is to demonstrate that when you learn one editing application it’s pretty easy to learn another.”
  • Before I die I want to… “A little over a month ago, installation artist Candy Chang turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighbourhood into a giant chalkboard where passersby could write up their personal aspirations.”

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

Happy Monday! In this Monday’s Link Roundup you’ll discover there’s no shame in quitting, how to scan and restore photographs, why asking ” Why?” may not be a good thing,  the recorded voices of slavery, and much, much more.

  • How to Know When to Quit. “Quitting gets a bad rap. We’re often encouraged, from an early age, to stick with our projects at all costs – even when we’re totally fed up…Frankly, that’s nonsense.”
  • My Days. “25 elderly men and women between 79 and 104 years from Norway tell stories from their everyday lives. Filmmakers Hanne Jones and Eli Lea from the Norwegian film production company Flimmer Film went from door to door in old people’s homes in Bergen collecting stories from the residents lives. The stories were recorded, edited and vizualised with photographs from the storytellers personal photo albums. The films have been screened at Bergen Cinema and on the national public broadcaster channel NRK in Norway.”
  • Scanning and Restoring Photos. “I am a fan of Janine Smith, owner of Landailyn Research & Restoration, a Texas-based company whose services include family history research and photo restoration. Janine is a professional digital restorationist and is poised to increase her fan base by thousands having become one of the excellent instructors at Lynda.com.”
  • Interviewing Family: Why not Why? “Asking a question using the word “Why?” might sound judgemental. Especially if you’re family.When a family member asks another family member a question that begins with Why?, it might put the second person on the defensive in the same way as “Why didn’t you take out the trash?” You want to elicit information and stories, not put the person on the spot.”
  • Thirteen Overused and Abused Expressions I’d Like to Outlaw. “I recently came across an article about 115 forbidden words and expressions compiled by Randy Michaels, CEO of the Tribune Co.  The company owns the Chicago radio station WGN, and Michaels forbid radio anchors and reporters from using these words.”
  • Videos Preserve Memories, Messages of Terminally Ill. “One hospice in Florida that is making a difference by taping video documentaries to keep those family histories alive.Dawn Woodward is a director at the HPH Hospice Center in Spring Hill, Florida. There, she and a team of volunteers record legacy videos for patients like Anna Marie Dorcas.”
  • Voices from the Days of Slavery.“The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement.”

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As Personal Historians, How Do We Rekindle “The Sacred” in Our Work?

Our people lived as part of everything. We were so much a part of nature, we were just like the birds, the animals, the fish. We were like the mountains. Our people lived that way. We knew there was an intelligence, a strength, a power, far beyond ourselves. We knew that everything here didn’t just happen by accident.

~  David Elliott Sr. (Saltwater People, School District 63 (Saanich, 1990)

Last year I had the privilege of hearing First Nation elder STOLȻEȽ ( John Elliot) of the WASÁNEĆ (Saanich) territory address the 16th Annual APH Conference in Victoria, B.C.  He spoke reverently of the stories that were passed down to him about the land and sea and animals and the values to live by.

I was moved by his dedication to his people and by the importance he places on the preserving and recording of their stories. Too often I find myself caught up in the mechanics of my work as a personal historian. There’s marketing to do, blog articles to write, and deadlines to meet. I forget about the sacredness of our work. And by sacred I don’t mean religious. I mean knowing someone deeply, being touched by our common humanity, and venerating the interconnectedness of all life.

What can we do to rekindle the “sacred” in our work? Here are some thoughts.

Begin with our elders.

We need to connect regularly with our own past and show reverence for our elders. This might mean ending or starting each day with some personal expression of remembrance and gratitude for family members who hold a special place in our hearts. It could mean being mindful of the elders in our community and extending a smile or helping hand.

Make time for reflection.

We need to take time out from our busyness for reflection. We need to connect to our sacred moments. Find a space where you can sit quietly and recall a sacred moment in your life. Remember what was happening and how it felt. Let that moment wash over you.

Listen for The connections.

There’s a Bantu expression, Ubuntu, which translates as  I am because you are; you are because I am. It speaks to our interconnectedness as human beings. When I’m working with clients, I’m aware that some part of their stories touches my own.

Create A personal belief statement.

We  need to find a statement that gets to the heart of what we do as personal historians. It’s not just words to use in a tag line but a touchstone that can remind us of why this work is sacred. Start by writing, “I am a personal historian because I believe that…”. Play around with phrases until you have an Ah-Ha! moment. For me that moment came when I wrote, “I am a personal historian because I believe that preserving memories is an act of love.” Whenever I lose my way, I try to remember that statement and why I’m doing this work.

Write it. just don’t think it.

We know how much we learn from listening to our clients’ stories.  But how many of us have actually told our clients this in writing? Too often I’m guilty of not taking the time  to pen a thank you note that acknowledges the wisdom that I’ve gained from my clients.

keep a “thank you” file.

I have a file where I keep the letters of appreciation I’ve received from clients and their families over the years. It also includes excerpts from personal histories that particularly touch me. When I need a pick-me-up, I go to that file and read through the collection. It reminds me of why I do this work and reconnects me to the sacred.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.

~ e. e. cummings

Photo by Cornelia Kopp

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Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup check out PageKeeper. It’s the perfect gift for your bookworm friend. It’s already on my Christmas list! For a sobering and fascinating look at changing cultural touchstones, I recommend Beloit College Mindset List.

  • Story Development Ideas.“You have read, or heard me say, stories make a speech or sales presentation more interesting, memorable and ‘visual.’ Remember, your audience remembers what they ‘see’ in their minds more than the words you use. In my sales presentation training I recommend you call your satisfied clients and interview them about their experience of doing business with you.”
  • BBC Documentary: Memory Wars. “… oral history has been firmly associated with the voices of the ‘ordinary’ citizen – a view of turbulent times from the bottom up. It offers a different version of the unfinished business of the past, be it war, revolution or dictatorship.  In this two-part documentary Alan Dein explores how oral history collides with the official version that has been committed to history books – particularly in nations where the outcome is still bitterly contested.”
  • You Tube Time Machine.“The You Tube Time Machine is a collection of audio and video snippets from 1860 (that is NOT a typo!) through 2010 that provide a history of movies, videos, and sound recordings. I rather enjoyed looking at some of the older ones, before 1920. These are really corny and it is difficult to imagine anyone paying money to see them. However, when moving pictures were still a novelty, I guess it didn’t take much of a plot to entice audiences to watch.”
  • Study: Audio recordings of US history fading fast. “New digital recordings of events in U.S. history and early radio shows are at risk of being lost much faster than older ones on tape and many are already gone, according to a study on sound released Wednesday.”
  • Beloit College Mindset List. “Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall…The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since “digital” has always been in the cultural DNA, they’ve never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.”
  • 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity And Stifle Your Success. “…research shows that once you get beyond an I.Q. of about 120, which is just a little above average, intelligence and creativity are not at all related. That means that even if you’re no smarter than most people, you still have the potential to wield amazing creative powers. So why are so few people highly creative?”
  • PageKeeper. “I’ve used a PageKeeper bookmark for several years and love it. Once in place it stays put. You don’t have to do anything until you’ve finished reading whatever book you’ve put it in. It keeps your place for you without you having to move it, or dog-ear the page.”

More of The Best of Monday’s Link Roundup.

The last week of my “staycation” and time to dip into some of the best of my previous Monday’s Links.

  • Doing oral history: a practical guide by Donald A. Ritchie. A Google Book. ”Doing Oral History has become one of the premier resources in oral history. It explores all aspects of the field, from starting an oral history project, including funding, staffing, and equipment to conducting interviews; publishing; videotaping; preserving materials; teaching oral history; and using oral history in museums and on the radio. In this second edition, the author has incorporated new trends and scholarship, updated and expanded the bibliography and appendices, and added a new focus on digital technology and the Internet. Appendices include sample legal release forms and information on oral history organizations.”
  • New! Browse the Complete Popular Science Archive.“We’ve partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements.”
  • TeleKast Is a Snazzy Open Source Telepromter App.“Windows/Linux: Whether you want to produce an amateur news segment, deliver a teleprompted speech, or just record a video message without a lot of “ums”, free, open-source application TeleKast is a solid desktop teleprompter worth checking out.”
  • The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities by Pat McNees. [PDF]from the Journal of Geriatric Care Management. “We know, and 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.”
  • Top 100 Blogs to Improve Your Writing in 2010. “Here is a list of 100 blogs that will help you improve your writing by providing inspiration, motivation, creativity and new techniques from experts, freelancers, and editors from every genre.”
  • This I Believe. “…an international project engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Over 70,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books and television programming, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.”
  • Fair Use & Copyright. “Fair use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. Fair use enables the creation of new culture, and keeps current copyright holders from being private censors. With the Washington College of Law, the Center for Social Media creates tools for creators, teachers, and researchers to better use their fair use rights.”