What is a Personal Historian?
As personal historians (PH) we are devoted to helping others tell their life stories and rendering them into permanent records--books, videos, audio files, or a combination—meant for the education and enjoyment of their families and descendants. Histories of companies, buildings and objects may also fall under the personal history category. Quite often, we partner with other professionals to create these histories: book designers, producers, directors, photographers, editors, proofreaders, and printers.
The word “personal” is what separates our work from that of the traditional biographer, whose objective is usually to capture the facts of a full life story meant for public consumption—a life story that is verifiable and fact-checkable. The “personal” in personal history means that our clients, as storytellers, reveal the events, people, accomplishments, memories, struggles, highlights, and reflections of their lives as they choose to remember, reconstruct, and share them. Our role as personal historians is not to fact-check, but to use thoughtful questions and prompts in our interviews to encourage the storyteller’s unique point of view.