Memoir Writing – Adding Supplementary Materials

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,762
    Personal history publisher Kitty Axelson-Berry explains how supplementary materials are a great addition to any memoir.

    Kitty Axelson-Berry: Hi! I am Kitty Axelson-Berry with Modern Memoirs and White Poppy Press. I am talking about how to write and publish your memoir, and now I am going to show you how to add supplementary materials.

    Supplementary materials are a great addition to any memoir and they can take up to a 100 or more pages. The most important are photos. Good photos that show you at various ages, as well as all of your family, are priceless. Be careful to be equal and kind in your treatment, however, and to show everyone looking good; don't favor one person over another. An important item is the genealogy chart. Genealogy charts in your memoir should be easy to understand, with details about four or five key generations, with information such as date and place of birth. Another useful item is a medical history, not just your own, but for other members of your family. How many times have you been asked to check off any illnesses that family members have suffered? If possible get as much information as you can from older members of the family and create this history to include in the book.

    Now, do you know where family members are buried, or where their ashes are spread? Include the name and location of the cemetery, and if possible the plot number. Not everyone has old letters, but if you do, it can be a wonderful part of your memoir and family history. Scan one or two of the letters so that your descendents can see the handwriting and then retype the letters so that they can be easily read and understood. Recipes; recipes are an invaluable part of some memoirs and people love to cook something knowing that their father or mother or grandmother used the same exact recipe. Some people even base their memoirs on recipes and memories associated with meals. Make a list of your favorite books, movies, personalities, favorite pieces of music, restaurants, sports teams, and so on. Believe me, you and your descendents will refer to it often. Sometimes people commission maps; in fact, this is true for about one out of four memoirs and for almost every immigrant memoir. It helps to see a map when pondering a journey and it provides context and relationship to what is essentially a place, name, a word, perhaps just an impression. Hire a cartographer to draw the map for you and include only the items that are relevant or interesting. It doesn't cost nearly as much as its worth and it's vastly superior to computer-generated printouts. There are limitless ideas when it comes to supplementary materials that will round out your book and make it really personal and truly relevant to current and future generations of your family. By following these tips you and your family will have a memory book that will last a lifetime. Good luck!