Studies Show: Family Storytelling Reaps Lifelong Benefits

As the topic of preserving one’s legacy trends in mainstream media, at Memoirs Productions family storytelling is what it’s always been about. Our 15 years experience in pioneering the video-legacy field has revealed not only the value that the process has for the storyteller, but also the clear benefits it holds for the recipients.

The preservation of one’s stories and life wisdom should not begin at the end of one’s life experience, when one looks back and contemplates the journey and the meaning of it. Rather, the benefit of sharing first memories from childhood shared regularly at bedtime by Mom and Dad can be helpful to personal growth and maturity.

Telling Your Family Story Can Make Your Child a Better Person

Above and beyond the obvious benefits of parent-child bonding, as well as its portability and accessibility, the benefits that family storytelling holds for children is now being revealed through 25 years of research. The studies show the measurable positive effects that family storytelling has on a child’s persona.

To gain all that from reminiscing about the past and passing on the stories and lore of our family is remarkable. As The Atlantic article, What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories, describes so well: Books contain narratives, but only family stories contain your family’s personal narrative.”

famille  maisonWhile the reading of fiction helps improve adults’ ability to understand other people’s emotions, family storytelling benefits include higher self-esteem, a stronger concept of self, a more robust identity, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety for the (grand)children. Family storytelling can help a child grow into someone who feels connected to the important people in his/her life. We hear about this often when we’re told that children watch their grandparent’s Memoirs’ production, over and over again.

So the next time you are putting your children or grandchildren to bed, follow up the fictional storybook read with a personal tale from your own life. The long term effects on your young family members will be remembered through their lifetime and help them tell their and your stories to future generations.

P.S. Happy Halloween! Please don’t forget to take pics of those cute costumes.


The 2015 TED Prize Awards an Act of Generosity and Love

Dave Isay has a big wish: to gather stories and create an archive of the wisdom of humanity. He is the Founder of StoryCorps whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.” StoryCorps allows each one of us to discover that we truly matter. By preserving our stories in this way we become better people in the process.

storycorps grand central

© Storycorps

In 2003, three years after the founding of Memoirs Productions, StoryCorps opened a recording booth facilitated by a moderator in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. For one hour, one person would interview a loved one, asking any questions or recording the telling of life stories that are important to them. Upon completion, the participants received a CD-Rom of their conversation while a duplicate copy was sent to the US Library of Congress for permanent archival storage.

© Rochelle Hartman

© Rochelle Hartman

Over the past 11 years of their story gathering process, StoryCorps moderators have noticed a common thread among these recorded conversations. Regardless of the socioeconomic background of the participants, the stories all have common threads of kindness, decency, dignity and courage.

Isay’s advice to us is to gather the courage and ask some of life’s important questions and to take the time to listen to the poetry, wisdom and grace that are to be found in the words spoken by the storytellers. If not, we will likely regret losing this opportunity to preserve the personal history of loved ones.

2015 TED Prize

With Isay’s award of the million dollar 2015 TED Prize, StoryCorps is expanding the reach of its story-capturing and archiving process. An app currently in beta-testing has been created so that people can bypass the current process and record their stories wherever and whenever they wish. Once stored, the interview can simply be uploaded as a file for sharing with the Library of Congress archive.

The potential reach and impact of this new process fulfills Isay’s wish to let humanity know that every single life matters equally and infinitely.

We invite you to watch Dave Isay’s TED Talk Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear by clicking here.

You may also download the app onto your smart phone or tablet and try it out today:


P.S. If you don’t have time for the full TED talk, here’s Dave Isay’s intro to StoryCorps. We highly recommend learning more about this project!

In FRONT(!) of a Camera: Memoirs Productions Featured in Wall Street Journal Video

We are honoured to have been interviewed ON camera and featured in a Wall Street Journal/Barron’s video: How to Preserve Your Family Legacy. As a follow-up to our interview in Barron’s PENTA earlier this year, The WSJ invited Iris Wagner and two of Memoirs’ New York based clients to their offices to be filmed.

It has been said that capturing family history on film/video is a new trend. In fact we at Memoirs are celebrating 15 years of providing excellence in legacy preservation this way, and the Association of Personal Historians was born 20 years ago and continues to thrive and grow.

We have received many lovely testimonials from the clients and families we serve as to the life affirming and transforming effects the Memoirs’ Experience has had on them. It was overwhelming to hear the heartfelt reflections of our two clients when the seasoned journalist interviewed them on their personal experiences. One of our clients interviewed, when asked about our process, said: I began to feel much more proud of my life and the adversity I’ve overcome and it was obvious this is the message for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

1Click here to view the four minute video. It truly captures the essence of what Memoirs does everyday. Learn the impact that ethical wills and video biographies has on those who choose to preserve their legacy this way. Kindly let us know what you think and please share the link!


From the APH (Association of Personal Historians) Series: 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History

Written by Michelle Sullivan, APH
Video produced by Iris Wagner, Memoirs Productions
This post originally appeared on’s blog on August 13, 2015. Reproduced with permission.


J._H._Capp_family_reunion_group_portrait_1908_(3191507609)Typical, you might guess, for a New York Public Library list of 20 motivations to focus exclusively on books. When Carmen Nigro published her “20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History” blog post, she left out some very important ways we can document our past, including video, audio, and digital. Veteran APH member Iris Wagner of Memoirs Productions in Montreal reminds us that there are many ways to produce our family history with a video entry to this week’s series instalment.

.Iris’ very special experience with clients at a large family reunion helps reinforce the idea behind Nigro’s 19th motivation: Family members and even distant cousins may become more forward in contributing documents, photos, and stories for your genealogical research. Key for genealogists, and for anyone interested in producing their own personal and family history.


About this 20-by-20 series:
Welcome to the fourth bonus feature blog post in APH’s successful series inspired by an article by Carmen Nigro of the New York Public Library entitled 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History. Bonus feature posts will either revisit one of the original 20 themes laid out in the NYPL post, or suggest additional reasons as to why individuals should consider recording their personal histories. Who better than APH members to enrich this already impressive list? Follow this compelling series of bonus posts, published every Thursday on the APH blog.

Up Close and Personal with Andre Agassi

Andre-AgassiWorld renowned professional tennis player Andre Agassi was simply charming when he spoke at C2MTL, an international business conference held in Montreal I attended earlier this summer highlighting commerce and creativity. Agassi’s talking points varied from his childhood and tennis career, covered in his 2010 bestselling book Open: An Autobiography, to his more recent philanthropic adventures in creating a charter school business model for disadvantaged students in his home town of Las Vegas.

The story of a remarkable life, Open is much more than a memoir of a tennis superstar. It explores how Agassi was often unhappy and unfulfilled despite his great on-court successes, and how he resented the sport that gave him fame and fortune. It clarifies that from birth to age 27, his life was entirely controlled by his moody and demanding father who instilled a relentless work ethic.


On Parenting

The interview at C2 took on the subject of his own parenting style. Father of two with wife Steffi Graf, Agassi explained he had made a conscious decision to parent his children differently from his own upbringing. He spoke passionately about how defining success is the first and most important decision you make as a parent.

Agassi defines his own vision of parental success as holding his kids accountable that “their days reflect the values and the things that they claim to love and want… that all their behaviors reflect what they claim. Don’t tell me something’s important to you – show me what’s important to you…I’m interested in how they live and engage with their life” he says.

“I’ll tell you when I stopped regretting anything as it links to my childhood,” Agassi said. “It’s when I get a chance to realize that I get to live and breathe my children’s childhood…I get the luxury of teaching my kids the things I have learned to be from my father and teaching my kids the things I learned that I didn’t want to be from my father.” Now that’s a true reflection on parenthood.


On Legacy

In 1994 Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation which opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2001 in Las Vegas and has an impressive 100% graduation rate. He has since taken the business model of the public charter school for at-risk children and created 65 more across the United States. He also has invested with entrepreneurial partners and is a board member of various businesses.

Although he retired from tennis in 2006, parenting, being an entrepreneur and devoting time to his foundation keep him more focused than ever. “What do I do in the morning? I get up and work.”

Some things never change.

Family, Fun and Fireworks

Although it may not be the first holiday that comes to mind when we think of family get-togethers, our national holiday, July 1st in Canada and July 4th in the USA are definitely a time of family memory-making moments! Celebrated with parades, barbecues, fireworks and family reunions, Independence Day is  definitely one of the most beloved American holidays. Canada Day is feted too across our broad nation.

At Memoirs we believe that it’s also a day that lends itself to storytelling. From the patriotic re-telling of the creation of the Declaration of Independence, to reminiscing about past Fourth of July celebrations, these stories become family favorites over the years and help draw us together both around the picnic table and in our hearts.

fourth of july

The heritage we share goes beyond family ties. It is also linked to our communities and cultural past which served to create this opportunity for us to get together and come to a better understanding of who we are as a family and a nation.

This year, we invite you to bring technology into the mix! You can share your digital photos and stories on social media using hashtags such as #IndependenceDay or #FourthOfJuly. You can also save the memories by picking your favorite photos and creating a photobook. Try an app like PastBook and invite friends and family members to contribute their own photos, which can be imported from camera phones and social networks. Don’t forget to pull it out next year to the delight of everyone you will share it with!

Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July! Enjoy the hotdogs and fireworks while sharing this fun-filled time with family and friends.

Be well, go safely!

Children, Emails and Ethical Wills – Oh My!

In celebration of May being Personal History Month, we’d like to propose a wonderful idea to easily collect anecdotes, virtual mementos and digital files as your child (or grandchild) grows up: set up their very own email address to preserve them all in one place!

Many parents and grandparents admit they print few, if any, of their digital photographs. Keeping the most important photos and videos organized and annotated in a separate email account for each child is a wonderful way to archive these memories.

This system is great for saving all kinds of life’s important (and some not so important) moments. It can also serve as a creative writing space for parents and grandparents where they can record their feelings about the child and surrounding life events, at that particular time.

When used consistently, a permanent archive of stories, both visual and written, is created. Think of the treasure trove you will have saved for your child (or grandchild) for the age when they are ready to tell their stories and begin the work on their ethical will!

Funny quotes or conversations, important milestones, written words and short videos capturing life events are all valuable memorabilia to remind your child of the way things were.

We consider handing over the account password as the equivalent to handing over the key to a virtual treasure chest.  Make sure to fill it up consistently with “treasure-worthy” photos and tales of your (grand)child’s journey from childhood to adulthood. The rewards for both parent (grandparent) and (grand)child are priceless as it really is a gift that’s a “lifetime” in the making.

We suggest that when you set up the email account you save the username and password in a secure location, as this account will not be accessed on a regular basis. As each email is date and time stamped devise a system using keywords to easily locate the memorabilia your looking for.

Would you prefer an app-based archiving solution? Check out Notabli and 23snaps. Both allow you to upload, find and organize your child’s images with the added benefit of being able to privately share them with friends and family. The apps also include a “hands on” option of developing a printable photo album you may one day give to your child.

Please don’t wait…Start today!


Producing a WHITE PAPER: Preserving OUR Legacy

It has been fifteen years since the founding of Memoirs Productions. And just as we encourage all of our clients (and indeed everyone!) to take stock when reaching an important milestone, we too have taken this opportunity to reminisce about our journey and reflect on both where we have come from and where we are going.

Reflecting on Collecting

Putting together a collection of Memoirs’ printed materials was a complete surprise as to the sheer volume of works and the related wisdom gained throughout the years. We discovered that  through knowledge and personal growth, we have refined and evolved our process of delivering our broadcast-quality productions with heart. It is now known to be our “blueprint for success” in the domain of preserving legacy.

As a result, we wanted to share the sum of our fifteen years experience with those who are like-minded. As part of the process of researching and writing our White Paper we collected our data from various sources. We gathered stories from the families, philanthropists and businesses we have worked with to use as case studies. We culled from our featured articles and columns (online and in print) relating to legacy while incorporating our speaking presentation materials. We reflected on the awards and professional acknowledgments we have been nominated for and/or received.

It was overwhelming, affirming and gratifying to see the sum of a life’s work assembled in one publication, organized and distilled. We had produced Memoirs Productions’ own Corporate Ethical Will~Legacy of Values, and are proud of it.

Looking forward

It has been our pleasure to work with visionary early adopters of our video ethical will process. They are the ones who have identified early on that the incomparable value that comes from the this form of communication with their next-gens, is highly complementary to their financial wills and personal legacies.

As ethical wills are being featured more and more in the mainstream press, our dream is that this trend continues so that everyone, both families and businesses, understands the value of and produce their own ethical wills, whichever way suits them best.

page 1Our gift to you

At its core, the classic concept of creating an Ethical Will~Legacy of Values informs and affects lives. In celebration of our fifteenth year, we have transformed our own Corporate Legacy of Values into our White Paper, Preserving Your Legacy of Values, so that we might share the gift of our wisdom, knowledge and stories with those who are interested. We invite you to download your own copy by following this link.


Thank you for sharing our special journey with us to date.

Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!

Tech Time!

Tech Time is the third instalment in our 3 part mini-series on creating a digital photo/video archive. Kindly follow these links for part 1, A Life in Photos: Preserving our Legacy as it Happens and part 2, Photo Synthesis.


How nice would it be to get your photo and video collections under control and make it shareable with the rest of the family. Here are some basic tools to keep in mind to manage these collections, and hopefully will help you avoid some mistakes that eat up precious time.



Old photos and photo equipmentBefore digitizing it is essential to do a manual sort of all the images you own. This includes your digital photograph and video collections as well as your online images. You might find it easier to start with your digital media before proceeding to the hardcopies.

As discussed in our previous blog post, this is the prime opportunity to cull duplicates including “bad” photos (blink, red eye), landscape and scenery shots. You may start by dividing them chronologically and then by group, subject or family.



The next step will move your printed photos, negatives and slides into the digital era. This ensures that their quality is preserved, unlimited duplicates are accessible to family members, and provides the security of being backed up in case of loss or damage.

Photo and negative scanners are available for purchase or rent. Consider using linen gloves to avoid smudging photos or negatives with finger prints, as well as using a micro-fibre cloth or compressed air canister to remove dust from both the media and the scanner.

Ensure that your scanning output is at the highest quality i.e. scanned at a minimum 300 dpi (dots per inch). This means that you can make prints from these files, should you wish to have them reproduced. While 72 dpi will appear clear on a computer screen, bear in mind it will create a blurry print.



Developing a file naming and cataloguing system that works and makes sense from the beginning is tremendously helpful. Do not name each photo individually (according to the people in it, for example). Rather, choose a serial number approach that captures all the essentials you can use to search for it later on. An example of this would be DATE / EVENT / NUMBER: 05052007 Karie and Flo’s Wedding – 01.

When cataloguing a folder system that includes: Year, Season/Month and Event provides a clear path as to where to save images.  Don’t go too “deep” into subfolders as it can make files increasingly difficult to locate.

Although at first it may appear unnecessary, it is useful to start cataloguing according to maternal or paternal side of the family, above YEAR in the folder hierarchy. It sets a system in place to accommodate family growth through marriage, remarriage and stepfamilies.



Whether you’re working on a PC or a Mac, offline or online, photo-tagging options are available and simple to use. A Google search can help you find these resources.

With thousands or tens of thousands of images to work with, consider integrating a standard for your tags and captions into your workflow. “Uncle Ken (Grenkow), fishing at Lake Wanapasaki CT, 1976.” This image could be tagged with the words: Ken, Grenkow, Fishing, Wanapasaki, CT, 1976.


Searching for the keyword KEN for example, will pull up all this Uncle Ken’s photos in your collection, along with anyone else named Ken. You can refine your search using more than one keyword to narrow your results. Think of the time saved in future searches if all photos have been properly tagged!

If you’re stuck for particular details in a photo, consider using online photo platform – such as Google+ Photos (AKA as Picasa) or social media to “kin crowd-source” the missing info. To use this method, post photos to a private album and ask family members if they know who is in the photo, what year it was taken, who is sitting beside whom, etc. It can be a fun way to go down memory lane together and can also generate excitement and participation for your project.

As this task can be long and feel tedious at times, a great suggestion is to use speech-to-text software and dictate right to the file.



A backup is a duplicate copy (on an external hard drive or on the Cloud), which serves to prevent loss due to issues like computer failure or theft.

An archive, on the other hand, is a copy kept in safe storage. At least one archival copy should be stored off-site (away from home) and should be accessible offline. The Library of Congress suggests putting this copy with your important papers.

Remember, as your backup is updated every time you save new media you must periodically update your archival copy as well. This archival copy should be checked at least once a year to make sure the files are legible and new copies created every five years or so to avoid potential data loss.


The true joy of this project is in the accomplishment of what often is a large daunting task (don’t we all have thousands of photos by now?). Then once completed, gifting a hard drive or memory key copy to loved ones will be a unique and cherished heirloom.

Sorting, editing and archiving your family photos is truly a great journey to undertake. We wish you all a bon voyage on this digital adventure!


NB: An organized archive can be a blessing in disguise! One day when you’re ready to undertake your video biography, imagine how simple it will be to find exactly the right photographs to include with your life’s storytelling. Easy-peasy!
Happy Easter and Passover to all (and please don’t forget to get your elders storytelling around the table)!

Keeper: Kaitlin Thaney

Keeper: Kaitlin Thaney

The Mozilla Discipline Clinical is really an initiative in the Mozilla Basis discovering how the potency of open up root can change the way that modern technology is done on the internet. We know a town of peers that really work, master and build alongside one another helps make investigation blossom on the wide open net. Read more