Conference for Personal Historians

by Memoir Mentor on August 7, 2009

Each year the Association of Personal Historians stages a conference for people in the business of creating personal histories in various kinds of media for individuals, families, companies, pets, and more. I’m always amazed at the number of talented people who are involved in this business and who come to the conference from all over the world…to teach and learn from each other. The conference is also open to folks who are not in the business but just want to learn from experts how to put together a personal or family history.

This year’s conference–Revolutionary Perspectives–will be held October 21-25 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, near the Valley Forge National Park about a half-hour drive from Philadelphia. I am  looking forward to attending because I know I’ll come away from it brimming with new ideas and clarity about the work I do in this field. This year’s conference has classes on interviewing techniques, creating audio and video biographies, digital publishing, starting and succeeding in a personal history business, social networking, and a whole lot more.

I am teaching a five-hour pre-conference workshop titled “How to Write a Page-Turner Memoir and Still Tell the Truth,” and a presentation about developing the people in your personal history.

viewfromforpicture_6I’m looking forward to hearing the keynote speakers. Maureen Taylor will share her knowledge about the interesection of history, genealogy, and photography. She has been featured on PBS Ancestors, MSNBC, Martha Stewart Living, and many other media outlets. Charles Hardy, president of the Oral History Association, will be sharing information about the uses of new technology and the impact of memory studies upon our understanding of autobiographical recollections.  Lily Koppel, author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal, and writer for the New York Times, will discuss her discovery of the diary that was fished out of an apartment dumpster and her subsequent meeting with its 90-year-old owner. All good stuff!

Each time I go to one of these conferences, I’m always impressed with the expertise of the speakers and the kind, generous way people in this business want to help each other. It’s fun and inspiring to rub shoulders with them for a few days. I plan to spend some time in the area after the conference visiting Valley Forge and Philadelphia, where my Parrott ancestors spent time in the 18th century.

If you’d like to know more, go the the website for the Association of Personal Historians and click on “Conference.”  While you’re there, poke around the website for awhile and see what the organization has to offer. You may be interested in joining. I’m a member, and I consider it money well spent.