The Importance of Story

mailbox on a road

I have been reading some Chris Brogan material lately and stumbled onto a thread about the importance of story, Brogan cites author Donald Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” I haven’t read it yet although I’m half way through Miller’s “Looking For God Knows What.”

Archivists seem susceptible to missing the importance of story. We get wrapped up in preservation, organization and access (which are important). But we miss the story. The whole reason we work so hard to maintain and provide access to historic records is so we can help people tell THEIR story. That’s a big deal. Maybe not to a group of academic peers or government bureaucrats or technocrats but to the user, it matters (or at least it should).

Telling your story shapes communities, creates civic-minded people, and gives our lives depth (I’m certain Donald Miller has more thoughts on this). I’m excited to look forward at my archival work as story teller as well as assisting others in telling their stories.  What do you think?  What’s your story?

Published by Mark Harvey

State Archivist of Michigan AIM: archivesmich GoogleTalk: Also on: Facebook, LinkedIN Interests * Birding * Flyfishing * Historic buildings * Macs * Archives of course! Favorite Movies * River Runs Through It; O Brother Where Art Thou; Matewan; too many to list. Favorite Music * Classical * Bluegrass * Americana/roots; Currently Listening to: OCMS; Wilco; Richard Buckner; Sufjan Stevens; Neko Case. Favorite Books * The River Why * Brothers K * Currently Reading: “Eat This Book” by Eugene Peterson.

4 thoughts on “The Importance of Story

  1. Very sound advice. I’m not too big on Brogan, but it seems you’ve had your own personal epiphany on this, which is always great for a writer. Because for us it’s always the story, no matter what field we are writing in. It’s what separates you from the dead and dry pamphlets, how-to books, and sundry other related material.

  2. Hello Mr. Harvey,

    Could you give me a call when you get a chance? I work for a local newspaper in the Irish Hills area which has been around for 130 years. We have questions about working on an archiving project for our years of newspapers. Thank you!

    The Brooklyn Exponent
    160 South Main Street
    Brooklyn, MI 49230
    Office 517.592.2122
    Mobile 517.262.4634

  3. Mark,
    I think you are on to something really big. Thanks for sharing the bit about the importance of telling your own story and for your work to help others tell theirs. Good luck as you try and keep that at the front of your mind on a daily basis. Know that I’m cheering you on over here in MN!

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