Your family is unique in all the world, but how do you best tell its story? Whether you’re starting with boxes (or electronic folders) of photos, diaries, news clippings, recipes, and other mementos or whether memories themselves are your main material, documenting a family history can be daunting. But it can be done well and meaningfully and shared with the people you love for decades to come.
Bring your own mementos to inspire your work in this hands-on day led by writer, editor, teacher, and writing coach Mathina Calliope. She provides the tools and guidance you need to move from daunted through motivated and on to accomplished.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Nostalgia and Brainstorming
What are your family’s defining characteristics? What stories get told and retold? What are your traditions, your unique turns of phrase? Brainstorming prompted by a number of topics helps you determine your focus and select the stories and mementos that will best shape and enhance it.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Genre and Structure
How will you assemble and present your story? A photo album with captions? Something heavy on text and light on images? An electronic portfolio? A mixed-media piece of art? A discussion of the pros and cons of various possibilities helps to select the best format given your creative impulse and strengths, source material, timeline, and how you’ll share your story.
12:15–1:15 p.m. Lunch (A boxed lunch is provided.)
1:15–3 p.m. Dive Right In
Choose a single memory, photo, person, story, recipe, or other discrete subject around which to build a piece of your history. The aim is to begin and complete one manageable element of the project.
3–3:30 p.m. Next Steps
With your finished piece—and the confidence it inspires—to guide you, make a concrete plan for steadily moving toward completion and distribution of your unique family story.
Bring a pad and pen or fully charged laptop with any digital mementos and no more than one shoebox full of physical memorabilia.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)