HOW TO BRING YOUR HISTORY TO LIFE THROUGH THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
Have you been wanting to preserve your family stories but feel overwhelmed knowing where to start?
Capturing our stories or the stories of our loved ones can be complex and overwhelming. Digital content creation has become so abundant that our most precious memories are buried in social media, smartphones, and online.
This problem is amplified by the fact that 17 million physical media assets, including photos, videos, and oral history, vanish each month.
Here is how you can get started to bring your history to life through the power of storytelling.
BUILD YOUR STORY’S FRAMEWORK
Imagine trying to gather, organize, and make meaning out of a lifetime or many lifetimes of history. It can be daunting to face boxes of photos, letters, and postcards that you need to organize in some sort of order.
To begin your project, it is a good idea to create a framework of the story you want to tell. Then you can begin to fill in details within that framework to build out your story. How to build your framework:
Outline Significant Life Events. You could begin with a general roadmap such as childhood, college, wedding, birth of first child, 25th wedding anniversary, retirement. From here, you can dive into any event that appeals to you.
Look at Objects to Jog Memories (such as photos, postcards, and letters). As you are looking at objects from the past, make notes of the memories these objects bring up. If you are interviewing someone else, ask your interviewee what they are thinking and to share it with you out loud. If they don’t recall, ask specific questions. For example, if looking at a photo, try to remember who are all the people in it, where it was taken, what was the occasion, and then delve deeper with these cues as a starting point. Ask yourself or your interviewee, “What was your relationship with some of the people in the photo?,” “What else do you remember about that day?”
Use Sensory Stimulation. The physical act of touching or smelling old objects can also stir up a lot of memories. Pay attention to this and write down those memories. Sound also holds a lot of memories. Think about what songs you have loved or ask your interviewee what songs they have loved at the time of the significant life events that you’ll be documenting. You can use memories of these songs as a jumping off point to delve deeper into other memories around that time.
EXPLORE THE STORIES BEHIND EVENTS
After you have developed a framework for the story you want to tell, it is time to start filling in the details for each event. Some tips to think about as you are choosing questions:
Remembering life stories can get overwhelming fast. Don’t aim to go through every question when you are thinking about your project or when you are interviewing someone else. You should try to choose the questions that appeal or seem interesting to you.
Save delving into heavy topics for later on in the project. It is easier to sift through those stories once memories are already flowing.
Set a rough time limit for conducting interviews. Fun as it is to interview others, it can get also get exhausting for you as the listener, and your interviewee as the speaker. By pacing yourselves, you can both remain excited about the process and look forward to each subsequent meeting.
You now have the tools to begin your own history project. Remember to try to have some fun as you begin this deeply fulfilling journey of personal storytelling.
ABOUT THE HISTORY PROJECT
The History Project empowers families to connect artifacts and memories across media to build experiential stories that transcend generations. The History Project offers a set of mobile and online tools to intelligently collect, beautifully curate and delightfully collaborate in building your personal life story. Preserve and relive the memories that matter most through The History Project. For more details visit www.thehistoryproject.com.