Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I ask a personal historian to help me tell my story?

Writing one’s life story might sound easy, but busy schedules, long distances between family members, and the complexity of pulling the project together can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. Personal historians are trained to make your heirloom project a reality - from the conception to the final delivery.

When is the best time to start?

It is a common misconception that life reviews are only for the elderly. Younger family members want to know about your life experience and the stories you have to tell no matter your age. And it is reassuring at any age to know that the memories of important life events are preserved.

I’m not sure if my life has been exciting enough to write a life story!

Everyone, regardless of background, history or accomplishments, has a unique story to tell that holds deep interest for the family. Our story is deeply connected to the lives of the younger generation. Sharing our personal experience will inspire our children and help them master their own challenges.

What makes a personal history project worthwhile?

Reminiscing about important life events is a rewarding and enriching experience. Talking about our life journey helps us not only to understand our young self better, but inspires us to embrace important life decisions we have made. Many clients are surprised how satisfying it is to create their memoirs, and how they find new meaning in life and optimism about their future.

Is it really true that personal history projects have health benefits?

Formal studies have proven the emotional and physical health benefits of life review work: The process of reliving positive memories increases feelings of contentedness and happiness, whereas acknowledging times of adversity reminds us of our adaptive capacities. Both of these empowering aspects have a positive impact on our well-being. In addition, the process of recording life lessons for future generations adds to the sense of pursuing a meaningful and creative task.

What if I find it hard to remember?

This is a common concern among clients. We assure you that looking at photographs, letters, and mementos, and simply talking about life events will trigger a wealth of memories. Conversations with family and friends often help bring up names and dates of events.

How much does a legacy project cost?

NielsenMemoirs offers legacy projects and consulting for every budget. Costs depend largely on the scope of projects. At NielsenMemoirs, we strive to make life history projects affordable for everyone by offering flexible monthly payment plans that can be shared among a group of family members. Please ask us about our Flex Payment plans.

How long will it take?

This depends on the scope of the project and the amount of memorabilia and photographs you wish to include in your life history. A focus on a particular life event can be done within just a few weeks, while full life stories can take a year or longer to complete.

Once I have decided to work with you, what happens next?

During a free initial consultation, we talk about your goals and ideas, themes, time frame, budget, and the rough scope of the project, and prepare a proposal outlining the anticipated time frame and cost structure.

A signed written agreement and a down payment secures interview dates and meetings for organizing your photo collection and memorabilia. Once the interview sessions conclude, we create a first draft, with the option of added research to enrich your stories with historical facts. After a review we edit and proofread the manuscript. In case of a book memoir, a book designer then customizes the interior and book cover before your life story goes to print. For all other products we reach out to our collaborators, such as web designers, or audio and video specialists.

And once you finally hold the finished project in your hands, it’s time to celebrate!

Would NielsenMemoirs be available if I’d like to create my own personal history, but need some advice?

Absolutely! A wealth of apps and books are available to get you started. Should you need guidance and help with the organization, editing process, and realization of your legacy project, we are here to help you make the dream of your life history a reality.

What does a final product look like?

During the initial consultation, together we will explore your ideas and wishes, and determine the nature of your legacy piece, taking your budget and your time constraints into consideration.

Where will the interviews take place, and how long are they going to be?

Most clients are interviewed in the comfort of their homes - all we need is a quiet space to conduct the interviews so we can produce a high-quality recording. Interview sessions can vary in length, depending on the needs of our clients, but we usually reserve a two-hour session, which leaves enough time for setting up and closing the interview without the client feeling rushed. The number of interviews is dependent on the scope of the project, which can range from focusing on a single event, a limited time span, up to a full life review. In either case, we will provide you with an interview schedule, so you can plan ahead.

There is so much material - where do I even begin?

Leave the organization to us - you only have to be available for the interviews. We will assist you in choosing which items to include in your life story project. If you like, you could look for photographs, letters, or memorabilia before we begin the interviews, but there is really no need to prepare. 

Can you change the manuscript later in the process?

Every life story project has two review stages, which give you the opportunity to add content or redact anything you are not comfortable with.

Can a personal history be created of someone who has already passed?

A life story of a deceased person can be recreated by interviewing family and friends. Excerpts of letters and journals, photographs, videos, and memorabilia add depth to a rich and colorful life story project.

Does NielsenMemoirs take on long-distance projects?

Video calls can be a good alternative when in-person meetings interviews are difficult to arrange due to geographical distance. However, if the storyteller strongly prefers in-person interviews, we are happy to travel. Details can be arranged during the initial consultation.

What if other family members remember a story differently than the storyteller?

Personal history projects are all about your individual point of view and the memories you recall. We aim to capture your perception and the details you remember to help you share your individual perspective with your audience.