How long does it take to complete a personal history?
Generally, from six months to a year. The interviews can be completed in the course of a few visits, but the process of writing and reviewing the history requires collaboration. A lot depends on how long it takes you and your family to review the first draft. Once that’s done, the process moves along quickly.
How much will it cost?
Every project is different, and it’s hard to quote a price before we’ve discussed your project. A full-scale narrative project, which results in a beautiful heirloom-quality book, requires many hours of work behind the scenes, and will cost several thousand dollars. But we also offer audio-tape and transcript-only projects, as alternatives for capturing important memories without the expense of intensive editing.
The best way to estimate your costs is on the basis of interview hours. A memoir of a specific time period may be achieved with only three or four hours of interviewing. One person’s life story generally takes from eight to ten hours. A family history weaving in the stories of several people will take more. Please see the Estimating Costs page for more information.
Do I have to do my whole life, or can I concentrate on a specific time period?
We can structure the project any way you want. You may choose to concentrate on a particular event or period in your life: your childhood, career, military experience, or travel adventures, for example. If you like, we can do a memoir of one particular period to start with, and another volume later on.
Can you do a personal history of a husband and wife together?
Yes, many personal histories are done this way. There are different methods of structuring such a project. One way is to divide the book into sections - the story of the wife's ancestors and her life until she meets her husband; the story of the husband's ancestors and his life before meeting his wife; then the story of their life together, including marriage, careers, and family.
In general, we prefer to interview the husband and wife separately. In fact it’s best not have anyone else sit in on your interviews unless absolutely necessary. No matter how quiet a family member promises to be, he or she can't help interjecting comments such as, "No, that's not the way it happened," which interrupts the flow of the narrator's story. Also, the narrator doesn't tell the story with the same enthusiasm and detail if there is someone present who has heard the story before.
What if I say something I regret?
You have complete control over content. You are free to make any changes, additions or deletions to the edited draft. This is YOUR story.