American family stories by audiographer Joe McHugh
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An Evening of Family Stories with Joe McHugh
Basic Event Information


A family story presentation by Joe McHugh is a wonderful way to offer interesting adult programming that fosters a sense of community and connects your patrons to an exciting effort to collect family stories. The challenge, as with all new programs that people are not familiar with, is how to get them to come out to it. We can help you with your promotional efforts, but if you, or a volunteer, can afford the time, please contact some of the organizations in your community who might have an interest in such an event. This might be the local historical society, a civic club, toastmasters, high school English or history class, a senior center, hospice volunteers, or similar organization. Of course, encourage members of your own Friends group to attend. We realize this is time consuming but the effort will be worth it. During the presentation Joe will tell stories about his travels and adventures collecting stories. He will share some recordings of these stories, and, if possible, he will invite members of the audience to tell a family story of their own. Below is information about setting up the event. Our watchword is “keep it simple” but we have included additional suggestions which, if time and resources allow, might be worth pursuing.

Length of Event: Sixty to ninety minutes. Room Setup: - Theater style with the chairs curved in a semicircle. Technical Needs: An audio CD player connected to a PA system with a single microphone on a stand is best. A stand-alone CD “boom box” will work if the audience is not very large. (If the event takes place within driving distance of Olympia, Washington, we will bring all necessary equipment.) Promotion: We can provide you with an illustrated 8 1/2” X 11” single page flyer with the date and location of the event printed on it which you can copy and distribute to your patrons and other organizations. We also can provide information about “The Telling Takes Us Home” project for a press release. Joe McHugh is also available for a radio talk-show interviews either by telephone or at a local radio stations if his schedule permits.

Additional Suggestions Decorations: A few antiques on a table or small dresser behind where Joe speaks can add charm and a sense of remembrance to the event. Framed vintage photographs, a pair of old-fashioned metal roller skates, a lace tablecloth or a quilt, an old musical instrument, a steamer trunk, a pair of wire-rim reading glasses, an American Flyer sled, these are some items that can be used. Maybe the owner of a local antique store or a collector would welcome the opportunity to provide the items. Refreshments: The sharing of family stories is often accompanied by the sharing of food. Try something different than cookies and punch. Perhaps something ethnic. Perhaps a cooking club or restaurant would provide the food. Youth Involvement: An idea worth considering is involving some young people in the event. A number of civic clubs have youth chapters. The young people can help with setup and cleanup, welcome people as they arrive, deal with the refreshments, arrange for transportation for an elderly person, or help with publicity. It’s a wonderful thing for young people to get to know the people of their community through the stories they share.