FAMILY and PERSONAL HISTORY
A family history traces your origins, chronicles your trip to the New World, and tells the story of your rise in America. The result: A saga that places your family in U.S. history with period photographs, color maps and glossy illustrations. Imagine Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton or Niall Ferguson’s House of Rothschild, but the book is not sold in a bookstore. It is a premium work only for you and your family.
A personal history tells your own story in a way that inspires others with the tale of your career and life. The milestones, the struggles, and the real reasons you did what you did. We will interview you for days, comb archives, and talk to your friends, employees, and associates to paint a picture of you as a person, professional, and parent. At the end you have a biography of you.
The Private Historian
Matthew Nickerson works with the best archivists, book designers, photographers and printers to create a history that does justice to your family. He believes history helps us answer Gauguin’s eternal questions: “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”
Former University of Chicago President Hanna Gray on one of Nickerson's books: “It is a wonderful account of two families and finally of one. The pictures are wonderful. The writing is a pleasure to read, the work of a good historian with empathy for his subject.”
We sit down to talk about goals. Family histories often look like a coffee-table book, but there are many ways to present a story. The book can cover a family over generations, tell the tale of one ancestor, or be an autobiography. Keep in mind this is a personal endeavor. It is key we get to know you and what you want.
We map your family tree and investigate your ancestors’ lives, reading centuries-old newspapers, family documents, existing histories and archival material to flesh out their stories. Most important, we interview living relatives and friends. We can record on video the oral history of a family elder, to preserve memories before it's too late.
Writing and Printing
We write to inform and enrich. We set your family’s story against the background of its times, creating a book that assesses your ancestors’ significance in history (it’s likely more than you realize). The final step is the printing of your book in whatever quantity and format you would like. Congratulations! You preserved your heritage for the ages.
Let’s work together
Private Historian would like to talk to you about a family book, a history project, or other research and writing. We have written and edited books about not only families, but a company, a bank and a neighborhood. We are flexible as projects take twists and turns. A family history can turn into a biography or your autobiography. One client relationship started with a conversation about a Virginia ancestor; the job turned into a website that advocates reform of financial laws. The Private Historian, with a deep background in history, journalism and academia, can help with any kind of research or writing.
Private Historian offers a generous fee to genealogists and others who refer people who become our clients.