What Format Do You Want?

Personal histories can be told in many ways and published in many formats. Here are some ideas for how to bring your stories to life. You can find personal historians with expertise in any of these areas:

Audio Tape/CD

Recording your stories electronically, on audio tape or a CD, allows your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to hear you telling your own stories. (Imagine how you would enjoy hearing stories told in the voices of your ancestors.)

Listen to Bert as he recalls his ancestry from Ellis Island (and listen to more samples)


A book can be pure narrative or it can combine your stories with photographs, documents and other illustrations. Books can be either paperback or hardcover, and can be as simple or as elegant as you wish. A life story may be a memoir or autobiography (about yourself), a biography (about someone else), or a family history. Personal historians also help research and write the histories of schools, clubs, family businesses, corporations, towns, historical societies, residential communities, and religious and ethnic communities.

Art Books, Scrapbooks & Hand-Made Books

These lovely one-of-a-kind products combine text with photographs, drawings, scraps of fabric, pressed flowers, jewelry, or other mementos. The final product is a work of art created just for you.

Photo Books, Photo Collages & Photo Calendars

These products are primarily images - photos or drawings - with minimal text. The final product could be a beautiful photo book, a poster-sized collage, or a photo calendar with pictures of family members on the date of their birthdays, anniversaries, or other important events.

Photo Videos

These videos use your old photos, home movies, slides, videotapes, and other memorabilia to create a dynamic presentation set to music. They can be shown at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, bar and bat mitzvahs, funerals, and other important family (and organizational) events.

Video Tape/DVD

Capture stories and memories in person on videotape or digital video to preserve characteristic gestures, voice, personality, and spirit for posterity. Influenced by films and documentaries, these products may be simple or complex, including individual or group interviews, and ranging from short tributes (for a funeral or memorial service, for example) to TV-style biographies.

Ethical Wills or Legacy Letters

An ethical will or legacy letter documents your personal values, beliefs, life lessons, hopes and wishes for your family, friends, and community. Its purpose is to leave behind a moral or spiritual legacy. It can be a message to specific family members or for future generations.

Legacy Planning

As the spiritual dimension of estate planning, legacy planning involves taking measures to preserve your values and heritage for future generations. Legacy planning services might include your wishes for the disposition of historical family documents and photographs, creation of an archive, preparation of material for an obituary, or memorial service planning.

Family Websites

Families everywhere are creating their own websites to help preserve and share family stories and information. These sites may contain the family tree, genealogical data, photos, letters, and stories -- using text, video clips, sound, and images.

Unique Products

Imagine a special quilt whose pieces, fabrics, and decorations tell your story. Or a book made of bits of dresses your mother wore. Think of images and music that have inspired you and imagine a painting, drawing, mural, collage, or multimedia presentation that could capture your life.
Your story in your voice (CD set).
Your story in book format.
Your story as video in your voice (DVD).
Your digital photos archived.
Preserving the past - techniques.