About Simply Life Stories
The concept of helping others record life stories grew after my father passed away in 2003. My father was an immigrant from Holland after the Second World War and had experienced a tragic part of European history that only he could tell. He had the most remarkable stories that would bring his listeners to tears and capture his family’s attention for hours. My siblings and I had provided him with an easy-to-use recorder with hopes that he would take the opportunity to record the many stories that we had heard him tell over the years. Upon his death we listened to the tape with hopeful anticipation -- not a single word had been recorded. It was a missed opportunity that I will forever regret. This loss, however, quickly became the catalyst for recording our mother’s stories while we still could.
For a number of months on Wednesday afternoons, with recorder in hand and sipping cups of tea, my mother talked and I listened. We started with stories about her own parents, then moved to her earliest childhood memories. She talked of growing up through the Great Depression and the Second World War; she told stories from her school days, her friendships and relations with her siblings, her dreams, struggles, celebrations and losses. When we were finished with her stories, she began to retell the stories, as best she could, that my father had told us over the years. It was a priceless few months.
Since completing my own mother's story in 2005, I've pursued a career as a personal historian using the same process that I first developed for my mother. During this time it has become more and more apparent that countless life stories, memoirs, and family histories are being left unrecorded because many people do not have the financial means to hire a professional, and/or believe they don’t have the skills or resources to do it themselves. When hiring a personal historian, a complete project will often range between $5,000 to $12,000, or even more depending on the scope of the project. For those families that have the means, this a viable and highly successful option, however for many individuals and families this is just not within their budget. In the end, many family stories and histories just fade with time.
With this realization, I began volunteering at a local seniors’ association where I offered how-to classes to seniors who wanted to preserve either their own family history/life story or that of a loved one. I was not surprised to find that with a little guidance many people had the interest, time, and skills to complete a project on their own, or with the help of a family member. After all, when I created my first recording and book for my family, I was not a writer or a journalist, just a daughter wanting to preserve her parents’ life stories. This brought me to creating an easy to follow guide, with the sincere hope that in sharing the step by step process as used in our personal historian profession, more life stories, memoirs, and family histories will be preserved.
Lucy Ferguson B.A. – Founder and Personal Historian: holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a college diploma in Business Management. Lucy has a wealth of experience working with individuals, seniors, and families within the Social Services Sector, and is trained as a Hospice volunteer. She is an experienced and trained listener who has written and recorded individual and family stories since 2005. She is a caring and compassionate professional who brings expertise and sensitivity to all of her work.
“The personal loss of my own father has heightened the importance of recording family stories. He told wonderful stories which are already fading with time. I will forever regret not having recorded them in his words.” Lucy Ferguson
Jack Watkins, B.A., M.S.W. has a post-graduate degree in social work, and as a senior himself, has over forty years experience working as a counsellor with individuals and families. Jack has excellent listening skills and shares Lucy’s excitement and passion about preserving the wisdom and stories of our elders.
Other professional members of our team include a transcriber, editor, photo artist, printer, and bookbinder.
View our guide.