Join us for a half-day conference on writing family history.
12:30-12:45 / INTRODUCTIONS AND WELCOME
12:45-2:15 / FIRST SET OF BREAKOUT SESSIONS. CHOOSE ONE:
Turning Family Interviews into Multimedia Stories -- Afi Scruggs (In Meeting Room A/B/C)
In this workshop participants will learn interviewing techniques that reveal the stories behind the dates, names and places. We'll also cover how to turn the information into stories, skits/plays, and even short audio or video segments. Topics will include ways to interview relatives; what to do when you can't interview relatives; how to verify what you find and suggestions on blogging and creating short videos.
Afi Scruggs is a communications professional and the author of Claiming Kin: Confronting the History of an African American Family. Her diverse body of work has appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Washington Post, Cleveland Magazine and the Atlanta Journal Constitution among many others. Visit her page for more information.
Writing the Ancestral Journey -- Amy Breau (In Writers' Center Meeting Room)
Writing your family history isn’t just about searching dusty (or digital) archives for distant ancestors to fill in your family tree. You become part of the story, as you shape your own narrative of who you are and where you’re from. Hear how Amy Breau reached a dead end in her genealogical research, then turned to historical research, travel and interviews to discover and reconnect with her Acadian roots. We’ll brainstorm unconventional ways to learn more about your own family history and do some writing prompts. What kinds of questions do you hope to be able to answer? What’s at stake for you and other family members as you conduct your search? And how can you write the story of your origins when questions remain unanswered, either by necessity or by choice?
Amy Breau is a writer and registered nurse who earned her MFA in poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, New Flash Fiction Review, Cleveland Magazine and on NPR. She researches and writes about family history, especially her Acadian and Quebecois family roots.
2:15-2:30 / BREAK WITH REFRESHMENTS
2:30-4:00 / SECOND SET OF BREAKOUT SESSIONS. CHOOSE ONE:
Turning History into Stories -- Lee Chilcote (In Writers' Center Meeting Room)
Your family is full of stories, and you may have a few heirlooms, a mind full of memorable tales, or many boxes of keepsake letters, journals and clippings. Learn techniques for turning history into story with the goal of publishing it or preserving it for friends or for generations to come. In this class, we will use writing examples, prompts and research as a jumping off point for exploring family history.
Lee Chilcote is the author of the poetry chapbooks The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. His writing has been published by Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt and many literary journals as well as in The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, The Cleveland Anthology and A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City. He is co-founder and former executive director of Literary Cleveland. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.
Beyond Memory: Research Tips for Writing Personal Nonfiction -- David Giffels (In Meeting Room A/B/C)
Even though “memory” is the root of “memoir,” it is only the beginning of the process. David Giffels exposes the sometimes shocking fallibility of a writer’s memory and offers techniques and advice for using research as a vital part of the creative process.
David Giffels is the William N. Skirball Writers' Center's Writer in Residence. His books include Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life; The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt; and All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House. A former Akron Beacon Journal columnist, his writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Parade, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He also was a writer for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.
4:00-4:30 / MEMORY LAB OPEN HOUSE
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Memory Lab at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch is a free "do-it-yourself" space for the community to learn how to access, digitize and share old videos, audio recordings, photographs and slides.