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Memoir Musings -- Ideas, tips and inspiration for May
May 07, 2010

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Enjoy your memoir journey!

Newsletter Contents

Feature: Who Do You Think You Are?

How-To Tip: Staging Your Videos

What's New at

Memory Prompt: Faith Life

Who Do You Think You Are? Family Tree

Did you follow this six-part series on NBC? Each Friday evening, a different celebrity traced his/her roots with the help of professional genealogists.

Sarah Jessica Parker, with roots here in Cincinnati, discovered her link to the Salem witch trials. One of her ancestors was charged with an act of witchcraft that resulted in death. Emmit Smith confirmed his family's roots in slavery, all the way back to an coastal African slave trading fort. Lisa Kudrow uncovered her connection to the tragedies of World War II, as her great grandmother was killed in one of the many massacres of Jews. It is both fascinating and painful to be forever linked to such dark times in our collective history.

Lingering questions compound the heartache. What actually happened to cause the accusation of witchcraft? How did a mother in slavery succeed in keeping her large family together? How could communities let depravity unfold around them time and time again?

Knowing one's genealogical roots is fascinating; knowing the stories of what actually took place at these times would be priceless.

At some point, your ancestors may be looking at historical records that include your name. Imagine their absolute delight in also finding your stories! The combination of genealogy and life stories is a powerful one indeed.

Click here to check out the show online.

How-To-Tip: Staging your Videos How To Tip Toolbox

Books, audio CDs and video recordings all have benefits as vehicles to save life stories. One of the great benefits of video is that the interview setting is an additional storytelling device.

Just last week, I had the opportunity to shoot an interview of an older gentleman. We chatted while I set up the camera and lights; it only took a few minutes to understand the tremendous depth of his devotion to his wife, and his heartbreak at her passing. For that reason, we placed a framed wedding picture on a nearby table, visible during wider shots in his interview. It's not the focal point, but it serves as a gentle and touching reminder of what matters most to this man.

If you are using video to tell a life story, give some thought to the "staging" around the storyteller. Include items that are reflective of his/her personality and passions. Such touches add visual interest and enhance the storytelling experience.

What's New at

Extraordinary Lives web site

I'll be holding Life Story Workshops at some new locations over the summer, including the Mayerson Jewish Community Center. Also, watch for news about an upcoming Life Story Scrapbooking Workshop! Visit and check out schedule.


Monthly Memory Prompt: Faith Life

memory prompt

I was recently designing a scrapbook page for Easter to document family traditions and it occurred to me that my scrapbooks don't often reflect my faith and how important it is to me.

Give some thought to what Easter, Passover and other recent religious holidays mean to you on a spiritual level. If your faith has never wavered, help your family understand how your faith came to be so strongly rooted. If you have ever lost faith and found it again, what brought you back? These are not easy stories to write, but are an important part of your legacy!

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