College to Host ‘Writing Family Stories’ Workshops
May 22, 2012
The Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, in partnership with Dalton State College, is offering a series of free workshops—Writing Family Stories—for writers of all skill levels. Three sessions will be held on Thursday evenings (June 7, June 14, and July19) from 6—8 p.m., and the final session will be held on Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m.—1 p.m. in room 105 of the Brown Center on the Dalton State campus.
“We are offering this writing series as part of our family philanthropy initiative,” remarked David Aft, President of the Foundation. “Our Foundation promotes philanthropic values, vision, and excellence across generations of donors and donor families. Family stories—passed from one generation to the next—serve as a means of communicating the issues and values that held importance in our parents’, grandparents’, and other family members’ lives.”
Aft noted that charitable gifts often reflect a family’s highest values, greatest interests, and deepest passions. However, the absence of recorded family histories makes it difficult to know and continue a family’s charitable intent.
At some point in life, most people consider who their ancestors were and what gave their lives meaning,” he said. “The Writing Family Stories workshop will help individuals record these pieces of a family’s past and create an opportunity to strengthen and pass on family legacies.”
Local freelance writer and memoirist, Amber Lanier Nagle, will facilitate the four-session workshop. The first three sessions will focus on preserving and writing family stories, and the fourth will focus exclusively on writing about keepsakes, mementoes, and heirlooms. Participants are encouraged to attend all of the sessions, however, each session will stand alone.
“The sessions will focus on the creation of short narrative nonfiction pieces that present both basic information about family members, and more colorful accounts,” said Nagle. “For example, census records show that my grandmother raised nine children during the Great Depression, but that’s only part of her story. She attended North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega from 1915 to 1918 and received her teaching certificate from the state at a time when few women went on to college.”
“At 17, she travelled to South Georgia and taught school in a small country schoolhouse,” Nagle said. “I have copies of her attendance register and grade book from 1919. She kept them in her cedar chest until she died in 1997, and that’s how I know that teaching and education were priorities in her life.”
Nagle has chronicled the lives of her grandparents, her parents, her siblings, and many of her aunts and uncles. She’s pieced together information derived from family stories, photographs, old letters, and other documents.
“Some of my family stories have been published in hardcover county history and heritage books. Others have been published in newspapers and magazines,” she said. “And I plan to publish an eBook during the next month—a collection of family stories and short personal narratives about my Southern ancestors, upbringing, and experience.”
Nagle said that the workshop is open to both seasoned and aspiring writers. The ultimate goal is to help every attendee learn the process and craft at least one family story by the end of the series.
“We will discuss key elements of successful stories as well as basics such as collecting stories and information, organizing information, drafting stories, and revising stories,” she said. “We will also offer a writing exercise during each session to get everyone in the mood to write. We want to motivate workshop attendees and help them take their first steps toward writing about their families.”
The agendas for each session are posted online at www.CommunityFoundationNWGA.org. Space is limited to 35 attendees, so anyone interested in attending the workshop sessions is asked to reserve a space by calling the Foundation office at (706) 275-9117.
“We are proud to partner with Dalton State College in this endeavor,” Aft added. “The College is a great resource for our community, and its efforts to preserve the rich history of Northwest Georgia parallel the Foundation’s efforts. Both organizations understand the value of family legacies and the impact they have on our community today.”
“We are proud to serve as the venue for the Family Stories workshops,” said Dalton State President Dr. John Schwenn. “Since the early days of Dalton Junior College, we have been the beneficiary of extraordinary support from the families of our region who value—and continue to value—higher education.”
“Attendees should bring pen and paper,” said Nagle. “They should bring their memories and their creative juices, too. I guarantee—the sessions will be fun and informative for everyone who attends.”