Probably not the place to admit this, but I am always a little surprised when someone posts a comment to my blog so I was even more surprised when one of those comments was an invitation to participate in the World Blog Tour. What is World Blog Tour you ask, well, basically it is like a chain letter for blogs. Someone invites you to participate, you invite someone else to participate, and they invite someone to participate, and so on. So a very heartfelt thanks to Kassie Ritman, aka “Mom” over at YouWhoINeverKnew.wordpress.com for the invite (and the comments). Truth be told she is doing some really important work at her site; engaging her entire family in the process of family history preservation by focusing on “the stories behind the photos and stats.” Most of us would love to get our family on-board and Kassie shares some great ideas she’s used with her own family.
So, back to the World Blog Tour, a short Q & A about my own blog and then a quick shout out about some of the other blogs I follow. Maybe (fingers crossed) they will want to participate in the World Blog Tour as well. Now, onto my “A’s” for those “Q’s.”
Question One: What am I currently working on?
I’m an adjunct history professor so the summer is a bit slower than life in the fall. To that end I’ve begun writing a book. My academic research is focused on the 20th Century so this book will trace the everyday experiences of three families from 1933-1945; one each from Germany, England, and the US.
How Does My Work Differ From Others Of This Genre?
While the underlying goal of my work does not differ much (that is I hope to help folks gather, interpret, preserve, and share their family history) my approach does. As an academic and historian I understand that while history is generally explained by the deeds of the great heroes, it is in fact lived by everyone. Each one of us has a unique chapter to contribute and without it the story of history is incomplete. I help clients understand their own family history from the context of greater historical events of the time.
Why Do I Write What I Write?
I have always enjoyed history, studying the past, and trying to understand how our present condition was influenced by the events that came before. Most everyone I speak with indicates they too enjoy history but not the way it was taught in school; the endless memorization of places, names, and dates that were out of context. Hopefully my writing will encourage others to do some research of their own to reconnect with their own family history.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
Rather boring actually. Develop a thesis, do some preliminary research, re-think the thesis, and repeat. I jot down or record thoughts as they come to me and have kept a Commonplace Book for decades. I can easily fall into procrastination and then be forced to conduct a writing marathon but thankfully those are coming less and less.
A quick “shout-out” to some old friends and new discoveries.
Debbie Perham at A Lifetime Legacy is doing some amazing thing on Long Island. From her “grown-up show and tells” to her Facebook page for those who live or were from Commack Long Island she is making great strides in helping her tribe discover, preserve, and have fun with their family history.
Another plug for Kassie Ritman, aka “Mom” over at YouWhoINeverKnew.wordpress.com. Her blog is full of really innovative ideas to get the family involved in the project and when you have more players it is just that much more fun.
Ben Highmore over at BenHighmore.blogsopt.co.uk looks at history from a cultural perspective. Ben teaches cultural studies at the University of Sussex in England and recently published The Great Indoors: A Home in the Modern British House. Obviously his writing is about all things English but his style is very crisp and his work is a lot of fun to read.
Finally, the folks over at StoryCorps. While this is not really a blog they are doing some amazing work preserving the oral histories of everyday folks. Taking the form of recorded interviews, participants (two) simply sit in conversation. A copy of the recording is preserved at the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (talk about preserving history). Check out their work and look for a StoryCorps program in your neighborhood.
So check out the blogs, start your own, and remember, you should be Saving History…because your story is priceless.