The Historium

History Consulting

Celebrate National Senior Citizens Day with a New Friend

I have been blessed to have had some amazing clients, but some of my favorite experiences in my life have been sitting down with people from generations before mine and talking about their experiences. 

It is amazing to learn how similar certain things are, how they transcend time: the smell of cookies baking in the oven; how pets can be a kids best friend; the freedom of the first days of summer.  But also how different they can be:  the trials of women in the workforce; traveling before airplanes;  how much safer big cities were. 

I never pass up the opportunity to chat with someone about their life experiences.  I once spoke to a woman who grew up alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald on Grand Avenue, who told me that if she could go back and change one thing about her life, she would play with her dog more often.  Moments like that warm your heart and make you realize that you aren’t so different from anyone who came before you, but also help you realize the kinds of things that will affect you most as time goes on. 

So, tomorrow is National Senior Citizens Day and I challenge you to go out and make a new friend.  Befriend someone who grew up in a different time than you, a time when things were different but people weren’t discover how much you have in common and what parts of life were different. 

What lessons have you learned from talking to an elder?  Share your stories in the comments!

Tara Cajacob


Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


3 Easy Ways to Find Your Motivation

I’ve been there so many times before: an endless cycle of getting a(nother) cup of coffee, staring at that blinking cursor and bashing my head against the desk.  Between working on client projects, columns, articles and working on my book, sometimes my writing juices just go dry.  On the darkest of those days (sometimes after a week of this infuriating routine) it can be hard to remember why I am doing this, or even to believe I can do it at all. 

The truth is, even though this is my dream come true, and I have been pretty successfully living that dream for 5 years now, I have these moments where I can’t find my motivation!  I think this goes a step beyond procrastination into the realm of fearful paralyzation. 

So how do I break through?  I go back and I read my very first blog posts.  I pull out the thank you note that my very first ever client wrote me.  I think about how nervous and excited I was, and how far I’ve come.  I remember that everything I have done in my business has been deliberate and intentional.  Every move I have made had a purpose. 

I have found that these moments are a result of losing sight of my sense of purpose, so I have come up with a little reminder that sits right at eye level from my workspace.

It says, “Because I want to inspire in others the same passion for history that drives me.”  It is nothing elaborate or overly lofty.  It just reminds me what gives me drive, what my mission and purpose is.  That motivates me.

No matter what you do every day, I bet you have a purpose in your life that motivates what you do, even if you lose sight of it sometimes.

  1.  If you are not sure what it is, go back through some of your memories, when did you feel inspired and excited last?  What happened?  Who was there? What were you doing? 
  2. If you can narrow this down, figure out what part of that situation would change what you are doing today and how you could apply it. 
  3. Finally, if you come up with the same answer more than once, write it down on a post-it or a note card and put it somewhere you will see it several times a day.  Make it your mantra and your purpose.

What do you do when you lose your motivation?  Have you figured out your biggest motivator? Share your answers in the comments!


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


FREE Printable Workbook to Preserve Your Memories

There is something truly magnificent about the human experience and the way events are synthesized with our senses.  It is for this reason that interviewers often use photographs when talking to their subjects, to help draw out memories that are long buried.  

If you have been wanting to work towards documenting your own personal history but haven't weren't sure where to start, this is may be the perfect place.  

This Photo Memories workbook uses easy prompts connected to photos to help evoke memories.   It has a week long program to get you started in memory journaling using photographic prompts.  

Whether you are struggling with writers block in unlocking your own story, or you want to use this book to help start a dialog with someone you love like an elderly parent or  grandparent, this book will give you the foundation to use photographs as a tool to document your own personal history. 

 

 

The best part?  It is totally 100% free to subscribers of our e-mail list.  In fact, that's the only way to get it! 

If you haven't already subscribed  do it now and get your copy instantly!

Already have your copy? Has it been any help? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

What is Oral History?

I think History is commonly perceived to be almost a science, a list of concrete names and dates, unalterably carved into the slate megaliths of the past.  The truth is, history is more of an art.  The goal of the historian is to look at events much like an abstract artist would deconstruct a landscape before setting it onto canvas.  Squint real hard at the historical events and some of your preconceived notions and prejudices begin to fade away from view and maybe for a fraction of a second you can see things through the eyes of those who lived with them. 

Oral history is setting down someone's stories on paper for use as a historical source. To some, oral history is a subordinate form of history.  After all, as we all know, the human memory is fallible (but don't tell my husband that I admitted that!).  Things aren't always as black or white as we perceive them and sometimes we make snap judgments based on our own feelings or circumstances regardless of the grander context.  Take, for example, the story of a wealthy girl who lived through the depression in the 1930s in a beautiful mansion on a bustling uptown street filled with other great mansions.  Perhaps this girl never even realized there was a depression, surrounded by others of like means and with no interest in newspapers or radio broadcasts when she could be riding her bike to the beach.  Does her ambivalence about the Great Depression make her memories of carefree childhood summers any less valuable or valid? 

This question can be tricky, it relies upon us to make a judgement call regarding what is important and what isn't.  Because the vast majority of people were struggling throughout the thirties, can we write off her experiences?  What if she was remembering wrong, and the summers she recalled were actually from the early 1940s?  Oral history requires we reexamine our motives for studying history and the methods we use to distinguish what is valuable in a source. 

There has been a resurgence in the past several years with the establishment of organizations like the Association for Personal Historians and other consultants and even historical societies that are using oral history interviews to enrich our understanding of the past through extensive analysis of these personal stories, memories and experience. 

When it comes down to it, we research history to understand more about the human experience and all of these stories are a part of this experience that connects us throughout time.  They remind us that people are truly individual, but even so, we're all similar despite our circumstances. 

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Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Red Cross 1942

Propaganda poster to promote knitting for the troops during WWI. Circa 1914-1918.

Propaganda poster to promote knitting for the troops during WWI. Circa 1914-1918.

For all of you history buffs who are knitting fanatics, too.  (C'mon, I know I'm not the only one!) I thought you'd find this as fantastic as I did! It is a collection of patterns from the Red Cross for soldiers at war during World War II. 

I love propaganda posters.  I love how they become timeless emblems of a nation united for a cause.  The idea of knitting for soldiers during times of war is far from a new one obviously.  But the thought of being so generous during times of great poverty, when everything from clothing to food was being rationed.   Did you know during WWII that women's clothing was limited to no more than three buttons? (A good thing to know when you are shopping for vintage buttons!) 

Yet the willingness to fill the need, ripping apart old clothing to make clothing for the men fighting overseas, phenomenal. 

One of my favorite little details about these patterns is that they aren't simply retyped... they are actual scanned images of the original patterns, yellowed, tattered edges and all!

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I hope you all enjoy, to see the patterns Click Here!

The Organized Genealogist: 5 Tips

If you read Sorting It All Out and Filing FTW!, you know the basic idea of how to set up and get started with a filing system for your genealogical records.  The biggest obstacle to overcome is getting started with the process, the second biggest obstacle is setting up a system to help you keep it up.  Here are five tips to help make things as simple as possible:  
      
1. Start Today.  The most difficult thing you can do is get started.  Before you start your mind is zooming 
with doubts (can I do it? how do I do it?), frustrations (this is impossible!),  or denial (it’s not so bad… I don’t really need  to find _________.). It’s time to put all of that noise out of your head.  Don’t think. Just do. That is why we  start big and work towards small.  The more mechanical and systematic you can make it, the fewer excuses you  will come up with, the less intimidating it will be, and the less time it will 
take you.  

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2. Let your Pedigree Be Your Guide.   If you are having trouble figuring out where something goes or how you  want to organize your files, look to your forms.  Your pedigree will show you all your family members in an organized format, it is a visualization of how you want  your filing to be.  Bonus: once you get everything sorted out, your pedigree can function as a map to find what you are looking for.  You can use other family history forms the same way!
 
3. Figure Out How To Handle Difficult Documents and Stick With It. Sometimes a document might list more than one family, more than one individual, or have some other complication that  makes it difficult to file.  When  it comes time to empty out your other folder and file these away, figure out how  you want to do it and stick with it.  

One of the easiest things to do is to make a copy and put it in with both  names or families, but this can prove difficult if you a) don’t have a copier b) have been doing it a while and it is making for extra paper bulk.  Other ways you can handle it are to make a note in the second area saying  “refer to “_______________” under this file, this folder, this box. 
 
Note: you will also have to make a similar  judgment call when it comes to marriage. When does an individual stop being a  part of one family group and become a part of another.  I handle this by making the change at the date of marriage.  Whatever you decide to do, decide early and be consistent
      
4. Make Indexes.  Once you  get all of your papers filed and organized, you might consider making indexes so  that you can refer to them in the future if you can’t remember how you filed  something or if you need to find something quickly.   As mentioned in No. 3, if you use your charts to help you organize your  documents, an index might be as simple as including those in the front of each  section of your files. 
      
5. Keep It Going.  All this  would be for nothing if we had no intention to keep our stuff organized in the  future.  It isn’t as difficult as  you might think.  The most helpful tip I can give you here is to pick a day, weekly, monthly, quarterly, whatever you have time for, and spend a little bit of time re-sorting things.  Find a place, whether you start an extra pocket folder in the front of each of the boxes for documents “To Be Filed.” Or just use your “Other Box” as a  transitional holding place between your filing days.  

Have a specific, pre-determined place to put unfiled papers, with the express intention of filing them on a specific day.  That way you won’t fall into the same old cycles, even if you aren’t immediately putting each paper in its specific place. 
 
Follow these easy tips, and set realistic expectations for yourself. Spend a little bit of time regularly keeping up with what you’ve done, and you will be living the dream, you’ll be an Organized Genealogist! 
  
What tips do you have to help with organization and filing?  Lay ‘em on us in the comments!

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