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What’s the story?


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Road Trip!

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Click here to learn more about historic Route 66
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Touching Base After an Absence


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A History of Sound

As a quick follow up to last week’s post about creating a sonic history here’s a great video highlighting 100 years of sound history and two excellent web resources to help you find the sounds that you find most memorable.

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Sonic World: Your Aural History

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Opening the Picnic Basket: Reunions, Food, and Personal History

By Pam Pacelli Cooper
President, Verissima Productions

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“Mother’s German potato salad,” “The Rauh sister’s Spice Cake,” “Successful Icing as of 1975,” and “Oy! Lebkuchen.” As I opened the little tin box of my mother in law’s recipes, I was able to see the history of her family in about 100 3×5 cards. Some were written in her mother’s hand (born 1892), some referenced great aunts who were born in the 1860’s, and some (such as the “Successful icing” card) annotated the struggle—over years—to master the art of a 7 minute frosting.


What’s in the recipe box of your family, or in your family cookbooks? Do you always make the same dishes for the 4th of July? Do you have periodic family reunions where each person brings a favorite dish? Or, is your family reunion, the reunion of a “heart family,” friends who get together once every year or two and recreate foods that they ate when they first met? If you’ve been attending for years, how have the reunions changed over time?


Think about the history of food at your summer family or friendship gatherings. Are you a steamed veggie person for 11 months of the year who brings the coconut cake to the party? Or are you the only one who brings Jell-O made with mayonnaise and fruit, a wiggly reminder of family picnics in the 1950’s and 60’s? Perhaps you are the maverick, introducing a new, nontraditional dish to every reunion.


Jot down a few memories that come to you after reading this blog and see what’s inside your picnic basket.


Here’s a recipe that dates back to the early 1900’s in Natchez, MS
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Stories of Friendship: A Reading List

I’ve really enjoyed reading some of your comments and reactions to the last post about the importance of including friendships in our personal histories through social media and I’d love to know what books you’ve read where friendships play a major role. Here’s a list of a few that I’ve read and enjoyed. Add your favorites to the list in the comments section.

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Friends: A Place in the Heart, A Place in Personal Histories

By Pam Pacelli Cooper

President,Verissima Productions

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It was the first day of my sophomore year in high school.  I was opening my locker when I noticed a tall, rawboned girl next to me with a brilliant smile. “I’m Kathie,” she said. “Our friendship began at that moment. Though we live on different continents and live wildly different lives, our bond remains unbroken. We hold experiences for one another in a way no one else can because of our shared history.


If we were married, this year would be our Golden Anniversary.


How much do we emphasize the depth and complexity of friendships when we are creating a personal history? There is always at least a question or two about important friends in our lives, but how many of us showcase friendships as a major category in the audio histories, videos, and books that we produce?


Here are a few questions I might ask in creating a “Friends” section of a personal history:


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Photo, Photo, Who’s That in the Photo?


By Pamela Pacelli-Cooper

President, Verissima Productions Incorporated


Who takes the photos in your family? Do you have stacks and stacks of albums from past years, a Picasa or Flickr account with thousands of images, or do you stay away from taking photographs because it’s too much trouble? And what about photos from your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents’ generation? Were your ancestors photo- inclined? Or are there just one or two precious pictures of family gatherings?


May is National Photography month, and it’s a good time to think about the ways that photographs, past and present, can help create the context of your family history. Using photographs to enrich personal histories involves three major functions:


Identification: Who is the person/people in the photograph you own? When was it taken? Where was it taken? What is going on around the people in the image? If you can follow some of the clues in even the simplest photograph, you may learn things about your family that provide missing details about how they lived and what they enjoyed, details not found in genealogical records or oral histories handed down over the generations.

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Organization: Where are your family photos? Online? In a closet? In someone else’s closet? Pulling everything together into categories that make sense is often a huge task, but one that can yield great benefits for generations to come. If you organize your photos, which includes pruning your collection, you can ensure that noone down the line says: “ Didn’t Joe have seven siblings? Where are their pictures?”


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Preservation: While it’s tempting to think you can save everything online, the Internet is far from foolproof. Photo sites can be hacked, go down, or disappear altogether. Familiarizing yourself with the best methods for backing up your files digitally and preserving older, valuable prints and photographs (such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes) in hard copy is essential for maintaining a complete family record.


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With these three steps and help from the listed online resources it’s easy to get started on making your family photographs a rich and informative part of your history.


Photo credits in top banner from L to R: Young Child,  1850 (public domain); Brownie Camera (Library of Congress); Oregon Ladies Basketball Team (public domain).



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