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    « Photos and Illustrations in Your Memoir or Family History | Main | Using Story Telling Techniques in Writing Family History »

    Personal History and Personal Historians


    “It used to be that only the rich or famous wrote their memoirs,” said Karen Ulrich, author of How to Write Your Life Story, “Fortunately…times have changed.”

    Indeed they have. The Wall Street Journal said that we are living in an age of “memoir fever.” A Maritz Poll showed that 60% of Americans are interested in family history. Time Magazine reported that genealogy was one of the top four activities on the internet.

    But increasingly people who have wanted to create a memoir or family have sought help in telling their stories. They have often turned to a new class of professional – the personal historian.

    “The common thread among personal is a passion for saving personal stories, one story at a time,” says Paula Stahel of Tampa Florida, President of the 600 plus member Association of Personal Historians (APH).

    APH founded in 1995 by Kitty Axelson-Berry of Amherst, Massachusetts, has become the professional organization for writers, journalists, oral historians, and videographers specializing in personal and family history.

    A person seeking to preserve his or her personal or family stories can expect a personal historian to:

    • provide tools and exercises or conduct interviews to jog the client’s memory and elicit stories to be included

    • assist in organizing their stories to create a coherent narrative

    • guide the client in selecting photographs, documents or family artifacts and memorabilia to illustrate the project

    • edit the final project to assure that the client has a personal history he or she will be proud to share with family, friends, or possibly to distribute commercially

    • arrange for printing, audio or video recording of the project

    The personal historian’s level of involvement and support is fitted to the client’s needs and desires. Personal history projects can be completed in a few weeks or may take many months depending upon the ambitiousness of the client’s goal. Their price can range from a few hundred dollars for a simple audio recording to as much as $50,000 for a commissioned biography.

    At Stories To Tell we combine a wealth of experience as writers, historians, journalists and editors to help our clients create heirloom personal or family history books. Using the support of a Stories To Tell editor from the idea to publication our clients have an enjoyable time creating a book they will be proud of for a surprisingly affordable price.

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