Congratulations on taking the amazing step to record your family stories! Your decision to preserve your family’s unique memories and experiences is a testament to the profound impact these stories can have on current and future generations. Way to go, you! I’m so excited you’re here!
Capturing and preserving your family’s stories can bring countless benefits:
- It helps improve the emotional health of your youngest family members. Knowing where they come from and what challenges their family has overcome, helps children better deal with this unpredictable and at times, scary world.
- It recognizes and celebrates the achievements of your senior loved ones. After all, one does not reach the age of 80 without learning many lessons and overcoming major challenges and adversity. These stories and experiences are incredibly valuable and should be recorded and shared.
- It provides a meaningful family activity. You don’t have to hire someone to record your loved one’s stories. You may already have a great interviewer or budding videographer or author in your family who would love the chance to practice their skills. This young woman is writing a book about the women in her family and interviewing and researching the details!
- It helps combat America’s loneliness epidemic. The U.S. Surgeon General said the lack of human connection can increase the risk of premature death to levels comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Reaching out to family members, asking for their stories, listening to stories with attention and interest — all of these activities help build connections and improve our mental and physical health.
Compare Options for Recording Family Stories
Many companies, including mine, want to help you record your family stories. Some companies offer to create books, others create videos. Some are inexpensive, some are an investment. There are a few factors to consider when making your decision. Remember to prioritize your specific needs, and the abilities of the loved ones you’d like to record.
Research each company’s background, experience, and reputation in the industry. Look for testimonials or reviews from previous clients to gauge the quality of their services and customer satisfaction.
Next, consider the range of services offered by each company. Some may specialize in audio recordings, while others provide video production. Evaluate the technology and equipment they use. High-quality recording equipment can significantly impact the audio or video output. Assess your needs and choose a company that aligns with your desired format and goals.
Another factor to consider is customization and personalization options. Some companies allow you to tailor the experience to your family’s unique preferences. Options like personalized interview questions or one-of-a-kind book design might appeal more to you than off-the-shelf options.
Finally, take a quick look at their customer support, samples and portfolio, recommendations and referrals, and of course, their pricing and packaging options. Assess everything that is included in each package, like the number of interviews, editing services, length of interviews, number of books you receive, etc. This is a lasting family heirloom. Something that future family members will read and interact with. Choose the service and end-product that align best with your goals.
Circa Legacy was founded in 2020 in Nevada, Iowa. The mission of Circa Legacy is to help families define their legacy and keep their stories from disappearing. The company is owned by me, Keesia Wirt. I have 25+ years of journalism, writing, and interviewing experience. I started this company, in part, because of the tremendous regret I feel about not recording and preserving any legacy stories from my two grandmas, Betty and Maxine. Circa Legacy offers several services, depending on your needs and budget, including: four-hour interviews of you or a loved one, an interview plus a professional writer to turn the interview into a story, and full-service custom book creation that includes the interview, writing, and book design and printing. We offer a three-month production schedule.
What makes my company different than the competitors? Two things set me apart:
- I provide free resources and how-to guides to help you do this project all by yourself. There’s no catch. I know preserving your family stories can be expensive, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from doing it. So, I compiled everything I’ve learned from 25 years of writing and interviewing people into the helpful articles and guides on my website.
- I will interview you or a loved one to help you determine your legacy stories. It’s more than just hitting the “record” button and transcribing everything you or they say. I’ll help you narrow down those stories and define the legacy you want to leave behind. I’ll ask questions, get details you’ve never heard before. Sometimes it just takes having a friendly stranger asking the questions to get you or a loved one to really open up. Then, we’ll compile all those stories and organize them into an interesting and entertaining story. Finally, we design a beautiful, hard cover book with favorite family photos and your carefully curated legacy stories. Circa Legacy books are top-notch family heirlooms you will be proud to pass on and share.
Interview only: $500
Interview and writing: $1,500
Custom book: starting at $2,800
Story Terrace started in 2014 and is located in Beverly Hills, California. According to its website, its mission is: “A biographer for every person.” Story Terrace ghostwrites your biography. It’s an impressive service that allows you to choose one of 600 different writers to interview you and craft your life story. You will receive a finished, hard cover book at the end of the project.
Their target customer: People who want to capture their own life story.
Story Terrace is my closest competitor. They offer three tiers of service: compact (a junior writer interviews you), complete (a senior writer interviews you), or novella level (a premium writer interviews you). I have not tried their services, but you can read some reviews on their site to see what other’s think of the experience. They have a seven-month production schedule.
Custom book projects with a premium writer: $9,050
StoryWorth started in 2013 and is in Claymont, Delaware. According to the site, their mission is: “Preserving family history, one memory at a time.” StoryWorth will email your loved one a different question each week for a year, and send their answers to you and other family members. After 12 months, they bundle all those memories together into a black-and-white book. It’s a great concept and a very inexpensive option compared to custom books.
Their target customer: Children and grandchildren of seniors who have good stories to share.
But, there are some trade-offs with the low price. It’s up to your loved one to actually answer the questions… Some of my customers said their loved ones complained that the gift felt more like homework. Without a professional interviewer to ask questions, you may not get as many details. Finally, there’s no one to curate and write the memories into a compelling and interesting story. So, the final memories may not be as deep or detailed as you wished. But, they will be saved and recorded, which is important.
One-year subscription to StoryWorth: $99
A Life Untold
A Life Untold started around 2019 by a husband/wife team in Australia. Like other companies in this market, they offer a low-effort, low-expense option for recording family stories. A Life Untold sends you or a loved one 101 thought-provoking questions to answer. They combine the questions and answers, along with some photos into a templated book and send you a hard copy.
According to their website, their mission is: “To make it easy, fun, and affordable for absolutely anyone to write and print their life story into a beautiful book.” This company’s approach is very similar to StoryWorth with all the same benefits and cons.
Their target customer: Children and grandchildren of seniors who have good stories to share.
Cost of a finished book: $199
June 2023 update: I’m adding two bonus companies to the list for you to compare!
Positive Emissions Life Documentaries
This is an insanely cool idea and it is run by a very cool woman here in Iowa. Brittany is as passionate about family stories as me and I am so excited for what she’s doing! Positive Emissions will create real-life documentaries about your closest love ones’ life stories with filmed interviews and photography. Brittany is such a talented photographer and videographer (I can say that from experience!). She has four session types you can choose from: life legacy documentary, love story documentary (so perfect for a couple celebrating a big anniversary!), a serious illness life documentary, and portrait sessions.
Cost of a session: Email Brittany to discuss
Tribute is a video-recording service started in 2013 that’s based in Brooklyn, NY. This company allows users to create video montages to celebrate important occasions. Users can upload many different videos created by friends and family, edit them together, and send a finished video tribute to their loved one.
It’s a very different offering than the other companies listed, but people often mention it for recording family stories. You might have heard of or participated in a Tribute recording during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a very popular option for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and other events when people could not get together in person.
Their website says: “We are on a mission to spread gratitude in the world.”
Cost of one Concierge video editing service: $99
It’s Time to Record Your Family Stories
The time to record your family stories is now, and I am here to support your every step of the way. Whether you choose to start with a free how-to article, explore one of my legacy kits, or dive straight into creating a custom book, there are opportunities for every budget. Together we will preserve the wisdom, resilience, and love that define your family’s legacy.
Don’t let these precious stories fade away; take action today. Embrace the opportunity to honor your loved ones, inspire younger generations, and forge stronger connections within your family. Your decision to record your family stories will leave a lasting mark on future generations, ensuring that their roots remain strong and their heritage cherished.
Record your family stories now and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.