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January 09, 2023

Tell Your Story: Resources for Storytelling, Oral History, and Creative Writing

Everyone has a story. Long or short, serious or silly, coming from all kinds of backgrounds, we all have favorite stories about our lives, our family history, or about things that are meaningful to us. This year, HEPL has embraced a storytelling theme, and we want to celebrate your library stories!

Every month on our blog, we’ll feature a guest writer from our community to share in their own words what the library means to them. Keep an eye out this week for the first library story to kick off our series. If you have a library story to share with us, fill out this form to submit yours and possibly be featured on our blog.

We’re also excited to share some storytelling, oral history, and creative writing resources below to inspire and equip you to tell YOUR story!


The Family Story Workbook: 105 Prompts & Pointers for Writing Your History

By Kris Spisak | Hoopla ebook

Have you ever wanted to write down the story of your family but never known where to start? Have you ever wanted to write your memoir, but you weren’t quite sure what tales of your life best fit the narrative you hoped to capture? Have you ever wanted to reflect on the moments that transformed you into the person that you are today? This workbook is designed for all of these reasons and more. Write it down because who else is going to? Write it down for you. Write it down for your family. Write it down for the historical record, whatever that means to you.

How to Write Your Personal or Family History

By Katie Wiebe | Hoopla ebook

This is a practical and encouraging how-to book from a long-time teacher of personal and family history writing. Katie Wiebe helps beginning memoir writers get started collecting the stories of their lives. She gives hints for recalling distant memories and tracking down family heirlooms. This is a serious but accessible resource for undertaking your personal or family history writing.

Life Writing: A Guide to Family Journals and Personal Memoirs

By  William J. Hofmann | IND RM 929.1 HOF

One Memory at a Time: Inspiration and Advice for Writing Your family Story

By D. G. Fulford | IND RM 929.1 FUL 2000

Family history isn’t hard. We do it every day without thinking about it. Our minds travel in that direction. Our minds are always going home. Family stories are our points of reference in every situation. They are involuntary responses, like sneezes. When you give your stories, you are giving yourself. You are giving your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents to future generations. You are allowing the past and the present to shake hands with one another.


FamilySearch’s RootsTech virtual conference Discover, Tell, and Share Your Story will help you connect with your family and loved ones in new and powerful ways through the power of storytelling, photography, and more. In this series, you’ll discover the tools you need to bring your ancestors to life in personal and meaningful ways, while discovering connections across generations.

In the American Ancestors database (available with your HEPL card), explore a variety of storytelling webinars. Set up your free account to view them all, including this one about a family storytelling through recipes.

In this free Udemy course on the Art of Creative Writing & Storytelling, you will learn the basics of storytelling, complete some practical tasks to improve own storytelling, enhance your knowledge about storytelling elements, and upgrade your own approach to the storytelling process.

In this TED Talk on The Art of Storytelling, Leneisa Parks shares the tales of triumph and woe of underrepresented communities and how individuals and groups built their own narratives and chose to reject narratives that were created for them. She presents about the art of storytelling and explains that there is power in our own books of life where we must choose to be authors and not just readers.

Read the Oral History Association‘s best practices for high-quality oral history interviews. Their guidelines establish the four key elements of oral history work and highlight some standard practices that should help produce historically valuable and ethically conducted interviews.

Oral history is a technique for generating and preserving original, historically interesting information – primary source material – from personal recollections through planned recorded interviews. Read some suggestions for anyone looking to start recording oral histories based on best practices used in the Smithsonian Oral History Program at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.



Indiana Writers Center supports Indiana writers of all ages and backgrounds and reaches out to people whose voices are rarely heard. Classes and workshops taught by published writers provide writing education that encourages creative expression and enhances the communication skills necessary for success in school, in the workplace, and in life.

Storytelling Arts of Indiana enriches, connects, and entertains through the art and experience of storytelling. They want to inspire all generations to value, experience, and practice storytelling in everyday life.

Since 2003, StoryCorps has built the largest collection of human voices ever archived. Their mission is to build connections, encourage compassion between people, and share stories, big and small. Get started by reading their tips on Recording Your Story 101 and then add your voice to the group.