Here are some of our favorite personal history resources:
1. Storycatcher, by Christina Baldwin, 2005
Story is the narrative thread of our experience – not what literally happens, but what we make out of what happens, what we tell each other and what we remember.

We make our lives bigger or smaller, more expansive or more limited, according to the interpretation of life that is our story. From our smallest, most personal challenges to global issues that affect nations and generations, we make the world fit into the story we are already carrying…
Events become real when we organize experience into narrative: we literally cannot think without words… From the corner chair in an American living room, to the cook-fire in an African village, story conveys what it is to be human and gives humanity its voice.
2. Great Stories Remembered, by Joseph Leininger Wheeler, Focus on the Family, 1998

Our Creator programmed us to love stories. Anything with a plot to it, we assimilate and make our own. Throughout history, the greatest communicators invariably used stories to get their points across.

Storytellers in every culture are held up as heroes. Why do we still read Homer thousands of years later? Because he told stories. Why do some of us prefer to read about David rather than his son, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived? Most likely because David’s life is one long sequence of fascinating stories, and Solomon’s is not.

The greatest storyteller of all, of course, was Jesus. His main vehicle for communicating truth was parables. Clearly, he knew that we learn almost nothing from abstractions and almost everything from stories…

Stories can have a great impact on us. Unconsciously, we mirror the traits of the story characters we dwell on most. It is said that those we admire most we end up mirroring. In fact, it is safe to say, “Show me your mentors, and I’ll show you yourself in future years.” Knowing and embracing healthy stories is crucial to living rightly and well.

So, I urge you, when your child – or any child – makes that life-changing request, “Tell me a story,” tell it!

Writing a memoir is an act of courage, a way to build a bridge from the past to the future. After working as a therapist for many years, I began to write my own story, first in journal entries and later in stories. Writing a memoir turned out to be the path to a greater and deeper healing than I would have thought possible.

Writing my story and translating it from imagination and memory into words on the page allowed me passage from victim to healing, taking all the separate bits and pieces of my history – my thoughts, feelings, regrets and hopes – to weave myself whole again.

4. Turning Memories into Memoirs: A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, by Denis Ledoux, 2006

Your stories – about the time you woke in the night to see flames engulfing the barn, about the cross-country trip your mother’s family took during the Depression years to look for work, about how your grandparents met in Lithuania – these are the stories that have shaped you and your family.

Don’t lose your stories! Many of the details that explain so much about how you and your family were shaped are lost because the family storyteller didn’t take the time to write them down, or perhaps, was intimidated by the very idea of writing.

This book will lead you through a step-by-step process that will enable you to produce your personal and family stories – one at a time, one after another. What you are undertaking is meaningful, and the rewards for you and your family will be great.  Write your stories – now! 


New Narratives in Old Brains: The Need for Story, by David Krueger, M.D., 2011
New Narratives in Old Brains: The Need for Story

We learn through stories. Stories are how we understand and how we remember – a way to hold information and to make sense of things.

A successful resolution to a troubled past story is to transform it by learning from it. We become wiser for it, and more adaptive. We shift from repeating the old story and programming to recognize, own and assess that story to decide what to change.

We extract the lesson from the past experience to write a new narrative in a current context. The new story overwrites the old story, and the latter disappears in its transformation. The past becomes memory, like our lap when we get up to walk, rather than an active intrusion on the present… We remember difficulties in order to forget.

Association of Personal Historians