Reaney Days

Reaney Days

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Family Stories Writing Workshop

We still have room in our Becoming Ancestors: a four week workshop on collecting, preserving and sharing family stories.

The Thursday afternoon sessions will meet July 19 & 26 and August 2 & 9 from 1-330PM at the Community House.

Evening sessions are scheduled for Wednesdays at 630-8PM August 15, 22, 29 and September 3.

If you would like to register please call the library at 518-568-7822.  Your future family is waiting to hear your voice.

For those unable to participate due to time or distance,  please enjoy the Introduction below.  I will post follow-up materials as they become available.


Becoming an Ancestors

First Handout: Introduction

 The idea for this workshop came to me recently when my brother passed away and his son said, “Aunt Ali is the last grownup in our family and the only one now who knows the stories.”  After the shock passed of being “the grownup,” and feeling sad so many are gone, I started thinking about the passing on of family artifacts.  I had cared for my mama as she passed and brought home with me some of the family memorabilia.  I have the photos, the birth and death certificates, the yearbooks and military portraits. 

It is an honor and a horror to be the family archivist.   I want to do a decent job of it. 

 In this workshop we will explore ways to gather and tell family stories.  Ways to speak them and write them down.  We are going to look at some of our own artifacts and, by remembering their stories, gain some understanding of why they are important and why it is important to pass them along.

My nephew, William, now has no living father.  I have decided to give him what I can of a living memory.   And the other, younger, members of my family as well.  I’m going to share with them some of the funny, sad, embarrassing, and wisdom filled stories that will tell them where they come from, who they are.

 I am going to work with you here.  We’ll bring in some of our family stuff, stories, and dreams and figure out ways to pass on the wonder and wisdom of the lives we and our families have experienced.  We are living in extraordinary times, but I tell you a secret, it is always extraordinary times.  Every life is a real historical epoch, every family story is a bygone era.

The idea here will be to gather and find ways to preserve the stories we tell around the holiday table after the turkey is eaten, after the presents are opened, on birthdays, and when the funeral is over as we gather to remember each other.  The time Uncle So-and-so drove his car into the river…the time Aunt Ah-hem lost her drawers walking across Main Street.  Both of these stories have been told me over the years.  I know many more are out there waiting to come to life as gifts to the future.

This will not be a class on English grammar or spelling or proper manuscript forms.  The emphasis will be on personal style and how to tell or write down some of your family tales.  We’ll talk about how to combine our photos and writing, but though I will have a dictionary on hand I am not going to be the English major here.  I’m going to be a person looking for ways to honor her family.   This will not be about how to research your roots, though methods of genealogy will probably be discussed.

Bring a pen or pencil, a notebook, and try to do the weekly suggestion assignments.  The first session please bring some photos of yourself.  The youngest available, or one that shows the you your family knows best.  Or one that you feel expresses who you feel yourself to be.  Bring your yearbook photo, communion or wedding.  Birthday or holiday pix are good.

Alternately bring any other photos you feel are important to your family story.  Bring in a photo of family pets or the house you grew up in.   Try to spend a little time before we meet with these, think about them, explain them to yourself.   You will be asked to share your picture, but you are never under obligation.  It will be enough that you attend and if you feel silent that is ok, too.  We are gathering to inspire and explore, if you feel like speaking out that will be great.  No pressure ever.





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