The next level of storytelling

Ashley Taylor Anderson provided a glimpse of the future of storytelling in her recent B2C article.  “Immersive VR” – the ability of users to interact with the story in virtual reality – promises to be the big next step in storytelling, and of course marketing.  Soon we’ll see “gamification” of VR, the use of VR for documentaries (such as The Guardian’s exploration of solitary confinement, below), and the use of VR for animated films.

How should historians use VR?  At Narratio Vitae (“life story” in Latin), we develop family narratives for customers by deeply researching existing family stories and building out families’ lineages.  We’re always eager to integrate new technology into our work and we’d be interested in your thoughts.

Today’s digital deletion is yesterday’s library fire

The digitization of historical records came with the promise of durability and easy use, but there’s a glitch… as we come to depend on these digital records, we’re not preserving originals the way we used to, and most users are unaccustomed to using the originals.  Many historical digital archives are poorly funded, so if that funding dries up and the site goes dark, both the digitized version and the original version can be unusable.
Wisconsin’s e-archive recently suffered a loss.  Users would have to visit the real archives to scroll through microfiche. (Credit: Sharon Mohandoss, via

A recent article in Slate about the loss of digitized Milwaukee newspaper records reminds us of the fragility of these records.  At Narratio Vitae, we’re dedicated to doing the research into these records to find your family history, and to developing that history into a lasting family narrative.  Get started on your family history before the memories are lost!

A great find…

One of the most gratifying moments of Narratio Vitae‘s family history research is that aha! moment of discovering – after hours or days of searching – a truly captivating image of a customer’s ancestor.  In the case of our current development of the Quinn family’s history in Boston, we discovered something just about perfect…

John S. Quinn, Boston Globe, 1897
Credit: The Boston Globe, 1897

The Quinns knew their great grandfather, John, was a track star, but they had never seen the coverage that he received during his stardom.  The image above is from an 1897 edition of the Boston Globe, featuring the young John Quinn’s victories on the track.  An image like this is gold… and will be a perfect addition to the Quinn family narrative.

Dealing with all that bad family history data

Credit: George Helon, The Chronicle

George Helon in his recent article has highlighted the limits and frustrations of all those free trials being offered by genealogy data providers.  And it’s true… while the big sites offer a ton of data, users should be careful that they don’t take other users’ statements at face value.  Too often, family histories on these sites are unsourced and poorly researched.

Narratio Vitae will work with you to collect your existing records, prove (or disprove!) your family’s legends, and develop those records and stories into a strong and lasting family narrative.  Let us deal with the data providers.

Family storytelling with photos

Calm by Yodith Dammlash
Calm by Yodith Dammlash

Narratio Vitae is inspired by a new family history project by the storyteller Yodith Dammlash.  She’s published a creative photo-biography of her family at her website, recently featured in The Week.  She has superimposed photos of her family as they’ve aged, producing a ghostly remembrance of them.  According to The Week, “This series is made to honor those who have passed,” she said, “to make sense of and peace with the stories I’ve been told over the years and to shed light on the multifaceted narrative of the Diaspora.”

At Narratio Vitae, we’re always looking for new ways to integrate photos into our customers’ family narratives (here’s one example), and Dammlash has given us new ideas.

Narratio Vitae is live!

Narratio Vitae (“life story” in Latin) is a fresh concept in ancestry research.  We write thoughtful family narratives based on customers’ existing research, and then we build interactive websites using those narratives.  The end product is an easily accessible and durable product that customers can share with their family and friends, and use to encourage conversations among the family.

We’re just getting started and we’re eager to hear from you.  If you’re considering developing your own family tree or family history, please send us a note at or call us at (571) 351-0106.