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Record your memories, stories and values
for members of your family, future generations, friends and colleagues

"What the next generation will value most is not what we owned but the evidence
of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end,
it's the family stories that are worth the storage."
— Ellen Goodman, columnist

 
  woman with tape recorder  

Individual & Family Histories

In my experience as an oral historian, I have found that no life is ordinary. In helping more than 120 people record their stories and memories, I have seen profound relief and joy in knowing they have created a lifeline for descendants.

I work with individuals in a process of guided recollection to help them gather the past into the present, conducting as many interview sessions as necessary to capture the story. The process itself, in kindling memories, is rewarding. Some of the long-unrecalled details in the family story might be those uniquely deserving to be documented, and they might continue to offer insights to you and others for years and generations to come.

"Kay Reid was a wonder to work with preparing an edited family history that I am proud to place in the big box of mementos, treasures and other writings to be passed down to future generations."
— Janet Knori

"My sister and I were very fortunate to find in Kay a friendly, caring person who understood and appreciated our family memories of four generations."
—Delight Leonard

"Skillful, measured, committed, Kay Reid can help you turn your once upon-a-time story into a family treasure to cherish."
—Dorothy Stafford

 

Ethical Wills

I help individuals record or write Ethical Wills. An Ethical Will is a This Is What I Believe and This Is What I Have Lived document. It is a statement about what we have valued and cherished, worked for, loved, and perhaps regretted or forgiven. We cannot even imagine how those who will follow might cherish and protect such a legacy. An Ethical Will can be a gift for the living and for our descendants as well.

I work with individuals to help them get their thoughts down, usually in an audio-recorded conversation in question and answer format. I ask questions designed to encourage people to speak their hearts’ desires. Once we have a transcript, I work on it with the narrators to make any additions or changes to the original.

 

The Process

In helping you tell your story, I will focus on what is important to you. In a full-life history, we would usually proceed chronologically. But threads and turns might emerge that are more important than sequence. A history can encompass so much! Family history and origin, new homes or lands, towns and neighborhoods, landscapes, childhood and growing up, schools, work, moving, passions and projects, friendships and marriage, children, struggles and successes, sickness and health, joys and grief—all can be a part of the story.

Some people want to emphasize the things they’ve worked for, fought for, and loved. An oral history can center on the world a person has cherished and struggled to maintain. Such determined remembering can, in a sense, preserve that world. Some individuals recollect the enormity of seemingly small social changes that have impacted everyday life, for example, when the bank replaced the movie house and the friendly pub closed.

What Will Happen: Steps in the Process
In an exploratory meeting, we’ll discuss what is important to you, the format in which you want to preserve the record, costs, and how to get started. I always strive to build an empathic and trusting relationship. The interviews will take place in an environment comfortable to you, and your story will belong, absolutely, to you. We’ll sign an agreement about that.

What are the Products? What Forms Might the Preservation take?
The fruits of the work are audio recordings on tapes or CDs, transcripts, edited transcripts, flowing narratives, or bound volumes. I specialize in creating smooth stories based on the spoken words. Video is also possible. You decide!

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