Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Recording Life Stories in a Parallel Universe

From Courtroom to Living Room

As independent contractors, court reporters move beyond the courtroom, inhabiting a parallel universe of personal history, recording life stories.

The independent contractor world of personal historians is being populated by a growing group of new inhabitants...we know them as court reporters.   As natural-born listeners (and personal historians in a sense), court reporters are predisposed to memorializing events.  The personal history business has become a field court reporters easily relate to and transition into.

It especially attracts reporters in the latter years of their career.  As we grow older, it’s only natural to reminisce about our own family, our childhood, now long-gone grandparents who were (and always will be) dear to us.  

After spending three decades as a court reporting agency owner in New York City and on Long Island, I decided it was time for a change of pace...so I immigrated to the legacy profession.  I always loved hearing my grandmothers’ stories about their early childhood…and there were lots of stories.  I started helping others memorialize their stories for coming generations to enjoy. 

It’s funny, that change of pace I was looking for really turned out to be one that was not a change at all, except for the venue:  from courtroom to living room.  As a personal historian, I consider the storyteller “the witness;” the “swear-in” is their introduction with their name, address, date of birth; photographs and personal memorabilia are “exhibits;” friends and family are “expert witnesses.”  There is technical, legal, and medical “testimony” when corporate clients tell about starting their business (perhaps decades earlier) and the evolution to present day.  There’s even "off-the-record discussion" (when recording is paused for an occasional break).

Of course court reporting skills are not required for those pursuing a career as a personal historian.  The job requirements are: exemplary interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills, organization (you are an independent contractor after all), business acumen is always a plus, and a passion to preserve our heritage.  

It’s your legacy.  It’s our legacy.  Pass it on.
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