Ten Questions to Ask Family

istockphoto 03-10-12 @ pictafolioReady to start capturing family stories this year? We found a great article with tips for collecting parents’ and grandparents’ stories. A real gem in the WSJ article (paywall) is a list of 10 questions to ask the important people in your life. Getting started is easy. Why not pose one question a month from the list to Mom, Dad or a grandparent? Then, by the end of the year you’ll have captured 10 valuable life lessons & words of wisdom to share with family and friends.

Our tip: Have your loved one share their answers in the way that is most comfortable and natural for them. Based on our interviewing experience, we find some people prefer to think about, ponder and handwrite or type answers, while others prefer to digitally record the responses as questions are asked. Both ways will work. Most of all, enjoy capturing the answers!

Maps Help Capture Memories

Hearing parents and grandparents share stories about their childhood and teenage adventures is something you’ll always treasure… and maps are a great icebreaker to start the conversation. We often use period maps to launch a memoir project and lately we’ve been exploring some really cool maps from the 1930s. It’s been a joy to watch our clients point to a spot on a map, laugh and launch into a favorite memory from 70+ years ago.

So the next time you are hoping to capture a great family story from the past, try finding a period map and start exploring it with your parents or grandparents. You may be amazed at the stories that unfold. Wikipedia.org is a great place to find period maps like the Shanghai map we found above.

Happy exploring!

A Note From Nanci

“The books arrived yesterday. They are BEAUTIFUL!!!…  Our family book exceeded my expectations. My mom had written our family story, so we left it in her own words which made it more meaningful to us.  It was so easy for me to just forward the word document, scan a few pictures and let the experts lay it out and put it together. Proofing it on line made the whole process even easier. My books arrived in perfect condition, and I love that other family members are able to order their own books from my creation. I can’t wait until Christmas when my Mom sees this beautiful memoir!”

– Nanci G.


Travel Book of Family Adventures

Sometimes its easier to think about and plan a project when you can see the possibilities. We can’t always show client work in detail for privacy reasons but whenever possible we’ll share ideas for you to consider.

Here’s a travel book we just published in Blurb’s public bookstore and submitted to the international photo book competition hosted by Blurb. The book takes you on this family’s adventures through Rome, Florence and Tuscany.

Preserve Family Military Stories

While conducting background research for interviews with a veteran, I stumbled upon the Library of Congress project to capture the experiences of veterans from all wars. The Library of Congress has a website area dedicated to the Veterans History Project and offers a kit to help capture and share your family member’s story.  The process to submit contributions seems fairly straightforward with all the necessary paperwork included in the kit. We’re hoping to record, submit and preserve our client’s experience as a B-17 pilot during WWII to the archive so that his family and future generations will always be able to know about his experience during the war.

If you are interested in downloading the kit, learning more about the archive project or want to read (and hear) some of the amazing transcripts from veterans, you can start here. The first person stories from veterans are both an inspiring and humbling reminder of the tremendous accomplishment and sacrifice of military service men and women throughout our history. I continue to go back again and again to read more of these amazing stories.

Image: Library of Congress © iStocktphoto.com/qingwa

By the Beach

We just published a new visual memoir and wanted to share an excerpt from this extraordinary couple’s story. Ann and Bill are celebrating 50 years of love and marriage this year and we created a book of celebration for them, their children and grandchildren, as well as future generations.

In this excerpt from Chapter Seven, Ann and Bill talk about family and vacations by the beach…

Magic and Family

We never seem to settle on the number of years we have been going to the lake cottage but it now must exceed 20 years. It would not be surprising if another large family would refuse to stay one night let alone 20 years. It has no air conditioning. The furniture is very uncomfortable but not as uncomfortable as some of the beds. It creaks at night as might a haunted house. Nonetheless, for 5 weeks every summer it is home and we would not have it any other way. (Well, new furniture would be great, maybe a new hot water tank or an additional bathroom or fewer steps to the beach or more available parking, etc.)

If you were to ask any of our 33 about memorable moments, all would agree that something magical seems to happen when we watch a storm come across the lake. There is thunder, lightning, wind and the cottage seems to shake and bend but never break. The adrenaline is high in each of us and the sharing of these experiences seems to take us even further in our strength together…