Monday, October 31, 2011

Las Vegas Conference for APH

The 17th annual conference of the Association of Personal Historians (APH) was held October 16-20, 2011 at Harrah’s Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. I was excited to attend my first conference and to be elected to the APH Board of Directors.

Conference keynote speakers included Nikki Silva from NPR’s Kitchen Sisters, Oksana Marafioti, author of the forthcoming memoir, American Gypsy, and documentary filmmaker Ben Patton. The packed program offered five days of workshops, seminars and impromptu sessions on an array of topics ranging from interviewing methods to book indexing to video storytelling techniques.

I was among the almost 200 personal historians from around the world who gathered to sharpen business and technical skills, learn more about their profession and network with their colleagues. Personal historians preserve histories, life stories and memories for individuals, families, organizations and businesses. Personal history formats range from books containing family stories, photos and documents to audio or video documentaries.

How to get the most out of a conference? Here are some suggestions: 1) always wear a name badge, 2) ask questions to start a conversation with anyone nearby, 3) look over the program agenda to decide on the most useful sessions, 4) if a session isn’t as valuable as hoped, slip out to find another one, 5) offer to lend a hand when needed, 6) share whatever insights you can offer to others, 7) if you start to burn out, take a break or even a nap to get refreshed, and 8) smile at everyone and call them by name when possible (Hint: Check their name badge).

For me, one of the greatest things about the conference was meeting in person the group of virtual colleagues she had met over the years. Although this was the first APH conference I was able to attend, meeting other personal historians face-to-face was an inspiration. People are drawn to the profession from a variety of backgrounds: journalism, counseling, education, graphic design, film, radio, book publishing and many other occupations. All share a dedication to preserving personal stories and documenting lives for the benefit of generations to come.

Attending this conference was an amazing way to network with people. It has rejuvenated my passion for preserving family stories. I discovered additional ways to help my clients preserve their stories in a variety of print formats from vignettes and tributes to full life stories. My newest offerings include Ethical Wills, which can be thought of as legacy letters to a family.

Attending the conference at a Las Vegas casino hotel begs the question: Did I have any luck gambling? Although good for a laugh, I’d have to say no, I’m not a gambler. In fact, with all the smoke, noise and sensory overload in the casino, during my one foray into it I spent about 3 minutes to lose a $5 credit in a slot machine.

Additional information about APH may be found at Personal Historians.


Karen said...

Congratulations on your position with APH. Professional conferences are also invigorating. The informal and formal conversations spark new ideas for everyone.

Beth (Elizabeth) LaMie said...

Thank you! I'm tickled to have a chance to pay forward for some of the wonderful support I've gotten from this group. But meeting them in person was even better than I had imagined.