Below is a list of articles dealing with many aspects of creating your personal history. We hope you find something here that will inspire you to begin one of the most rewarding journeys of your life.
From Holocaust survivors to a Texas rancher battling coyotes and wildfires, millions of Americans’ stories are on the verge of being lost as a whole generation born in the early 20th century passes away. Personal historians, however, are coming to the rescue of Baby Boomers hitting their 60s and using new technology to record their family’s stories.
Like most people, Hedrick Ellis grew up listening to his parents and grandparents tell family stories. As a teenager, he often tuned them out. But this year, eager to keep those memories alive, he hired a personal historian to interview his father and mother.
“You hear these stories over the years, but nobody ever really gets around to writing them down,” says Mr. Ellis of Arlington, Mass. “This seemed like an easy and practical way of capturing them.”
Elizabeth Lanning, like many members of her family, got to know her grandfather on the flight deck of a rebuilt 1965 Cessna as he taught her how to fly.
She heard about his travels across six continents, including the time he flew to Hawaii in a single-engine plane using cloud formations to guide him and the time he crashed in the Amazon and survived in the jungle for a week.
Jean Horton is a globetrotting 89-year-old retired anaesthetist. She lives alone, has no children, and is the only surviving member of her generation on either side of her family. While she is well known among neighbours, she is not famous, yet she is working on the third volume of her autobiography.
East Bay resident Marjorie Wilkes treasures stories from “Mama,” her 94-year-old grandmother: how Mama’s great-great-grandparents committed suicide because they feared the South would win the Civil War; how her great-grandparents were then taken from the Southern plantation to be raised by the Creek tribe in Oklahoma, creating a family that is now part African American, part Native American and part Caucasian.
“I wanted to capture these stories on film so that future generations will know what Mama sounded like, what her gestures and laughter were like,” explains Wilkes.
Savigny, a five-time Emmy Award-winner and founder of TimeStories, will share the techniques he uses for chronicling family histories and preserving precious family photos through narrative videos. Examples of his work are part of the “From Italy to America” exhibit. Savigny documented on video members of families whose ancestors emigrated to Greenwich from Italy to a start a new life. Savigny filmed the narratives, which run 15 minutes each, and feature 46 Italian descendants reminiscing about their family’s experiences.
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