As a child in Wilmette, Illinois, I was a bookworm and a budding writer. To get some practice, I interviewed the folks on our block and published the Neighborhood News (with invaluable help from Mom). At age 11, I was a personal historian — of sorts.
From there, I went on to:
write for and edit my high school and college newspapers
record an oral history of my grandmother in 1977
earn a B.A. from Grinnell College in American Studies
walk across the United States, a 3,500-mile adventure, in 1981
work as a writer, interviewer, and counselor for nonprofits
assist best-selling author Fritjof Capra for 24 years
start First Person Narratives in 1998
volunteer on a variety of community history projects
take leadership roles in the Association of Personal Historians
It's a joy and privilege to bring my skills and interests to the field of personal history. The more people I meet, the more I am convinced of Mark Twain’s assertion:
There was never yet an uninteresting life.
Such a thing is an impossibility.
Inside of the dullest exterior
There is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.
My Talented Team
Izumi Motai - Book Designer
Izumi holds a master's degree in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a degree in Advertising Design from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His work in the manufacturing, advertising and publishing industries has built his expertise in multiple design genres, including packaging, graphic, and book design.
Susan M. Davis - Book Designer
Susan, an accomplished artist, book designer, and photographer, attended the San Francisco Art Institute. She has worked for Determined Productions, KGO-TV, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. Throughout her career she has also run her own business, Paintbox Productions, and is an avid genealogist.
Carla Koop - Writer and Editor
Carla is a versatile and accomplished writer. Her varied projects over the last two decades include oral histories, community history projects, and individual profiles published through her work with public agencies. Carla is an essayist and poet, and has worked as a professional editor. She holds degrees from Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley.
Essays, excerpts, and articles by
and about Trena:
Trena interviews her father
about his life, 1992.
Trena (left) with her parents and
five brothers, 1966.
A pensive moment at age 21.
Trena and designers Izumi (above) and Susan (below) congratulate clients on publication of their books.