Digital Storytelling

Little Stories

decorated Easter egg
Frohe Ostern – Happy Easter – 1989

Yesterday, while sorting through some of The Family Archive, I stumbled onto this little jewel from our time in Germany. I worked for Boston University’s Overseas Programs at Hammonds Barracks – about halfway between Mannheim and Heidelberg. It’s a decorated egg shell created by a co-worker’s husband. He made one for each of us in that office. Twenty-five years later, it’s still intact and a treasured memory of those days.

Our family histories are full of little stories. How are you capturing yours?

Blogging is the perfect platform for these little stories. They are easy to create. In my case, many are generated by a bit of ephemera like this egg, a photo or a newspaper clipping. The research needed to fill out the story often doesn’t take long either. Pull together words, photos, maps and graphics to help tell the story and pretty soon you’re done.

The blog – and its readers – don’t mind that you aren’t building your history in perfect chronological order. And, before you know it, those little stories start piling up.

That’s where a writing platform like Scrivener or Ulysses comes in. Although a blog is a great platform to share these little stories, it is tough to pull a collection of them together for other projects. A writing platform, however, is the perfect tool for this! I created several Ulysses projects and each of my little stories – along with its associated research – gets added to the appropriate project. As that associated research grows, I find I’m often starting a little story in Ulysses then sending it to the blog.

Once in Ulysses or Scrivener, stories can be arranged and rearranged in any number of ways. Ulysses and Scrivener both have features to export selected stories as a PDF document, Word document or ebook.  This makes it easy to share with family members. Yes, a photo-heavy manuscript will require additional formatting and layout efforts in other apps. Even so, Scrivener and Ulysses still have much to offer family historians building their history one little story at a time.

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