Build a Legacy With Storytelling
"We all want our relatives to live forever. We miss them terribly when they're gone. But we don't have to lose them completely. They live on in our hearts through their stories and memories. I am so glad we did this, especially now that my mom has passed out of this world."
~Terrlyn Curry Avery
"I’ve had many beautiful tears during the last few days of interviewing family members and finding out such heart-touching stories about how people got together, and how people lived back then. I never knew how intimately people were connected. We are discovering great stories. We realized [the urgency] today when I was talking with my Aunt, and she said “I don’t have anyone left that I can share these stories with.” And she was so happy to talk about it. So find the people in your life that mean things to you and ask questions." ~Candice Hozza
It doesn't have to be a daunting task. Let me handle the details.
Your Story: it’s more than your jobs, schooling, interests -- that is a resume! Your story includes your place in time, how how big historical trends and events impact you -- and you them. Your story is more than something you passively own. It’s your testimony, the change you made in the world, the path you cleared, took, wavered from.
Telling our stories matters -- tell the story of attending an historical event, living in a changing or endangered space, how changing laws or cultural trends impact your life. Your story may be one of progress, loss, or endurance. It may be an act of resistance to the status quo. It may follow generations of relatives as they move physically or change with the times. You may want to tell your own story or share this project with your elders.
Remembering is not just a capacity that you either have or you don’t. My research finds that we have different kinds of memories; long-term memories, unlike short-term memories hold on longer. We also have different avenues of recalling them -- talking it out aloud, looking at a photo, or even smelling Nanny’s New England Boiled Dinner! Invite your elders to join in, or make the project all about them. Re-visiting a topic can help pull even more information together by giving the interviewer time to remember, or bringing in someone else related to the topic to discuss it.
This is for you if:
You were there during an event or a change and you want to tell about it.
You’re ready to call in your story to support your family or “tribe.”
You have a complex, blended family to narrate.
You’re ready to tell the "could be forgotten" story in YOUR head.
You want help to capture experiences before this person is gone.
You want to tell the story of a loved one who has passed on -- to remember and heal.
You have a story not reflected in our history as it stands.
You believe that people's history matters.
You want to build or leave a legacy.
You want to matter.
I have a process. A story not preserved is forgotten. Even the funniest, most important ones will disappear. What if you could just talk it out? What if you had your story in hand to pass along? Let’s organize a regular, ongoing story date. A solid place and process with which to exercise your voice. First we’ll talk about what you want to capture: your life story, your life’s work, an ancestor or child who has passed, the old country, your hopes for the future…I will sculpt customized interviews to get it all on paper. You just click and chat. I’ll do the rest.
I have the training. As an archivist for 18 years, I conducted and curated oral histories. I know the Oral History Association’s standard criteria and “best practices.” I understand the complexities of interviewing for authentic answers -- how to pose the question, allowing for some silence, revisiting the topic, and building an engaging, easy-going relationship with the interviewee. My goal is always to be a “silent partner” in this collaborative project, and let your voice shine through.
You can expect:
Joy - I didn’t expect this one! This is what my clients say they get from our work. Reflecting on how far they’ve come and seeing it laid out is very satisfying.
Clarity about your path - where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, and how you want to proceed.
Closure as you make sense of the past. Use storytelling as a way of remembering and healing.
Conversation - invite someone in to remember with you.
Your stories collected to forward in the family, full of your family hopes, dreams, and ideals.
Peace of mind: It's always urgent. Let's chat before our memories fade, or worse, fail…
A way to acknowledge ancestors who: succumbed, endured, or overcame great hardships.
To build a legacy of resilience, self-worth, and compassion.
Time is of the essence. Maybe you've thought of telling your story, or someone’s story, but you've been putting it off. Before we or they pass on...let's capture it. If we don't, it won't be written down. And it will be forgotten. You don't want your late grandmother, dad, partner, or child to be forgotten. We can strategize about gathering your memories, bringing in some friends, family, folks who can add to the narrative. Tell the "could be forgotten" parts before those memories fade.
Share: Give your family memoir package to your family or friends, complete with your hopes, dreams, and family strengths all articulated. I'll help you pull it all together.
A process and technology all set up.
A professional and confidential interviewer to guide the process.
I'll read up on your geographical region, your line of work, religious or cultural background.
A pre-project interview with the payee, to understand your expectations and your most-wanted topics.
A pre-interviews meeting with the “narrator” online to get to know them, ease the process, and get direction for some background research.
Tips on setting up your computer camera for your best angle before we record online.
Personalized, hand-crafted interview questions, made specifically for YOU to capture what YOU want recorded.
Regularly scheduled interview sessions and email reminders.
Six 90-minute interviews, as you desire them (though two per month for three months is suggested).
All our work can happen online, or we can be in the comfort of your own home. If some constraint has you wanting to speed up or slow down the process, we can certainly do that, too.
Full word-searchable transcripts.
Transcripts will be both shared with you and edited to build a family memoir.
A personal or family heirloom, printed in black and white on archival quality paper, presented in a lovely customized binder.
Full word-searchable transcripts of each interview ($810 value) so you can search for when the family business got started, what was remembered about Auntie Norma, or the happiest time of your life.
Audio/video recordings of each interview with “subject notes” so you can re-listen to the recordings by subject matter and get every nuance of meaning that comes with hearing a voice. (priceless)
My top tips on storage and handling, as you look toward saving the documents that accompany your story.
Reserve your 6 interview sessions --
(This link takes you to Paypal)
One to save your spot.
Then one each of the next three months.
One to save your spot, one each of the following five months.
We can also take your project further:
Make a bound book: The first place to start with this additional project will be to see how long your narrative is when finished. At that point we can discuss having it bound and published, what size book, whether to add photos, and whether you want to fix it so that family members can purchase copies. Estimates of your options laid out upon request.
Make your family story public: Your contribution does not have to stop with your family legacy. I'm happy to help get your story or your family's story shared "on the record." At the completion of our time, you will have an end product that allows you to share your contribution "on the record" -- to be part of bigger conversations. We can find just the right repository, discuss any access restrictions you may want to place, and be sure your legacy endures. There is an additional charge for this service, and estimates depend on what you’d like to place: your story alone, or a family archive with papers and photographs; the size of your collection; time periods covered; subject matters covered.
Alex Katz, Lake Time, 1960, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh