In the News
For Immediate Release
July 16, 2019
Modern Memoirs, Inc. Announces New Ownership: Amherst Couple Purchases Business and Expands Services
Amherst, Massachusetts— July 16, 2019 — Amherst residents Megan and Sean St. Marie are the new owners of the non-commercial publishing company, Modern Memoirs, Inc. They purchased the business from founder, Kitty Axelson-Berry, who is retiring after 25 years as President, and are eager to expand the clientele by offering new writing, publishing, research, and personal archives management services.
“We are thrilled to embark on this new chapter in our careers and in our marriage,” said new company President Megan St. Marie, a published author and part-time Lecturer at Simmons University under her maiden name, Megan Dowd Lambert.
“Happily, longtime employee, Alison (Ali) de Groot, will stay on as Director of Publishing,” said Sean St. Marie, Director of Operations & Archival Projects, who has a business background and an MLIS, Archives Management degree. “And Kitty is generously helping us learn the ropes of the business as a short-term consultant.”
Memoirs and More
Axelson-Berry established Modern Memoirs in 1994 to help others “preserve their own or a loved one's personal history.” Along with de Groot, who joined the company in 2003, she has helped clients publish roughly 160 personal and family-history projects. Some of these books are commissioned, or as-told-to memoirs, based on client interviews. Others are assisted memoirs, or manuscripts clients write themselves that then receive editorial and design services. Regarding her sale of the business to the St. Maries, Axelson-Berry remarked, “I see Megan and Sean building on the foundation of the business and taking it to new places, which makes me very happy!”
Under the St. Maries’ leadership, Modern Memoirs will continue offering commissioned and assisted memoir and family-history book publishing, while also providing services for smaller-scale projects, including obituaries.
“I’ve had the honor of writing several obituaries over the years,” said Megan St. Marie, “and I’ve been deeply moved by these opportunities to bring comfort to survivors while paying tribute to those who’ve passed away. At Modern Memoirs, I will work with clients who wish to write advance obituaries, or perhaps ethical wills (also known as legacy letters), as part of their end-of-life planning. I will also be available to help those who seek assistance writing obituaries or eulogies for their deceased loved ones.”
“We can collect such writings, along with photographs, prayers, quotations, and other texts and materials, into keepsake tribute books for interested clients,” added Sean St. Marie.
“And since personal and family histories include many happy occasions that could benefit from writing and editorial support,” said Megan St. Marie, “we can also help clients with written remarks for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, and other milestones.”
“Marking such special moments with celebration books, or what they call festschrifts for retirements in academia,” said Sean St. Marie, “is another option.”
It’s All in the Family
In many ways, Megan St. Marie feels she is following in her parents’ footsteps as she pursues this new path. “My mother provides a powerful model of respecting and valuing the stories and wisdom of older generations through her decades-long career as a nurse, hospice provider, and elder caregiver. And,” she continued, “in his retirement, my father has immersed himself in genealogy research, tracing our Québécois and Acadian family history to 16th-century France.”
Sean St. Marie’s training as an archivist will allow him to offer clients support in genealogical research and family history preservation projects. “We look forward to helping clients research and create books comprised of family trees, letters, photographs, recipes, and other materials that document their roots,” he said.
He will also support clients in personal archives management tasks. “Perhaps potential clients are preparing donations of their papers, or they need to downsize, or maybe they’re managing a loved one’s affairs. In any case, I can provide confidential review, preservation, organization, and digitization of photographs, documents, and other materials,” he said.
This work takes on special meaning for the St. Maries as parents of seven children in their blended family, aged 1 through 22.
“Learning about those who came before us is among the greatest gifts we can give to those who come after us,” said Sean St. Marie. “We know this as parents, and we know this as people who cherish our family legacies.”
“Everyday lives hold extraordinary stories,” said Megan St. Marie. “In her poem ‘Sometimes,’ Mary Oliver writes, ‘Instructions for living a life: / Pay attention. / Be astonished. Tell about it.’ We couldn’t be more excited about helping Modern Memoirs clients ‘tell about’ their lives and the lives of their ancestors.”
For more information, contact:
Megan St. Marie, President
Sean St. Marie, Director of Operations & Archival Projects
Modern Memoirs, Inc., 34 Main Street #6, Amherst, Massachusetts, 01002
THE NEW YORK TIMES
"HAVE A STORY TO TELL? YOUR PERSONAL MEMOIRIST IS HERE"
Kitty talks about the business of preserving personal history.
Written by Alina Tugend and published in The New York Times Business Section (page B4), September 1, 2016.
THE SACRAMENTO BEe
"WRITING DOWN FAMILY HISTORIES AS BABY BOOMERS LOOK BACK"
Kitty traveled to Sacramento, CA to speak at the Association of Personal Historians' annual conference, "Culture and Thrive." Written by Stephen Magagnini and published in The Sacramento Bee, October 25, 2015.
More News Articles and Media Coverage
September 1. The New York Times, “Have a Story to Tell? Your Personal Memoirist Is Here,” Alina Tugend, photo by Damon Winter
October 25. The Sacramento Bee, "Culture and Thrive," Stephen Magagnini, photo by Owen Brenner
February. Rob Report/WORTH, “Your Past as Prologue: Writing a memoir not only preserves a family’s history, but it can also serve as a guidebook for future generations,” Ian Keown, illustration by Tony Fox
November 12. The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Help for the memoir-impaired,” Dianna Marder
March 10. Montreal Gazette, “Family Stories: Boomers Put Parents on Record,” Susan Schwartz
March 9. The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Lights! Camera! You!, Personal Biographies are less glitz and more aww,” Kristen A. Graham, photo by Scott S. Hamrick
March. Ladies’ Home Journal, “Making Memories Last,” Irene S. Levine
August 29. USA Today, “FDNY families put their love in books,” Bob Minzesheimer, photos by Jennifer S. Altman
August 28. New York Post, “9/11: The Aftermath—Book Project Preserves WTC Victims’ Life Stories,” William J. Gorta, photos by G.N. Miller
August 28. The New York Times, “Memoirs Commemorate Lives Lost on 9/11,” Mel Gussow
May 4. The Seattle Times, “Family stories kept alive,” Erik Derr
March. Business West, “Stepping Out,” George O’Brien
January 27. Amarillo Globe-News, “History Project; Many Ways Available to Capture Life Story,” Marlene Feduris
January 18. The Boston Phoenix, “Ordinary People: Memoirs used to be the territory of the famous, the intrepid, or the afflicted. Today, everyone’s getting into the act,” Chris Wright
November 4. Tampa Tribune, “These People Want to Hear Old Family Ties,” Susan H. Thompson
October 14. Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), “Life Stories. Professionals help bind family memories,” Kristi Wright
July 22. Sunday Republican, “Ordinary People. Unique stories emerge in oral, visual histories,” Ronni Gordon, photos by Matthew Cavanaugh
July 20. Union News, “Ethical Wills Gaining in Popularity,” Pat Cahill
June 13. Boston Globe, “Candid Cameras. Average folks pay to put life’s memories on videotape,” Ellen Barry
August 3. “From Memories to ‘Modern Memoirs’: Amherst personal history business,” Melody Wilensky
Marketing for Dummies, Alexander Hiam. John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey
December. Money Magazine, “A Biographer of One’s Own”
August 27. Daily Hampshire Gazette/Hampshire Life, “The Business of Lives: Why People Are Turning to Professionals to Preserve their Life Stories,” David Maloof, photos by Gordon Daniels
August 1. Franklin Magazine/Union News, “Modern Memoirs: Creating Family Histories,” Maria Trombly, photos by Matthew Cavanaugh
June. The Women’s Times, “Focus: Kitty Axelson-Berry,” Rachel Barenblat, photo by Tara Conant
June. Business West, The Business Journal of Western Massachusetts, “Making Business History: Author Builds a Profitable Business Out of Writing Memoirs,” David Simons, photo by Paul Shoul
May 5. Nikkei Ryutsu, “New Wave,” Kaede Seville, photo by David Oxton
April 4. Chicago Sun Times, “Committed to Memories: Through specially created books and video documentaries... businesswomen are helping families reconnect with their past,” Dave Hoekstra
January 24. Boston Sunday Herald, “History Gets Personal Touch: Biographers capture lives of everyday men, women” Scott Farmelant, photo by David Oxton
December 29. The Wall Street Journal, “Historians-for-Hire Chronicle Lives of Ordinary Folks,” Hilary Stout, in-house image
September. Springfield Republican, “Recharging the Soul: Retreats for women designed to nurture the spiritual side,” Pat Cahill, photo by Charles Abel
March/April. Elder Vision, “Memories and Memoirs,” Ruth Cohen, photo by Terese Legere
November 8. Sunday Republican, “Survivors Find Solace in Bereavement Books,” Pat Cahill, photo by Don Treeger
February 17. CNN Interactive, “Personal historians put family sagas on CD”
February 16. Das Moderne Nachrichtenmagazin, FOCUS, “Family Albums Digitized,” David Oxton
Best Home Businesses for the ’90s
Date unknown. Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Memories Become Memoirs: Putting pen to paper for posterity’s sake,” Ali Crolius, photo by Kevin Gutting
May 9. Amherst Bulletin, “Local Women Get Down to Business,” Christine Ryerson
November. AARP Bulletin, “I Remember Back When... Memoir fever proves infectious, sweeps the country,” Susan L. Crowley
July 30. Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Behind Great Writers: Editors,” Daniel Grant
June 27. Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Remembrance of Things Past. Memoirs are a hot literary ticket these days,” Steve Pfarrer
June 21. Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Memories into Memoirs: Kitty Axelson-Berry now a free-lance editor,” Marietta Pritchard
October 28. Amherst Bulletin, “Thanks for the Memories. Kitty Axelson-Berry, former Valley Advocate editor, starts Modern Memoirs,” Marilea Polk Fried, photo by Connie Gould
Some of our Radio and Television Interviews
December 11. Iyanla (television talk show), interviewed by Iyanla Vanzant, New York, N.Y.
July 26. The Round Table with Susan Arbetter, interviewed by Joe Donahue. WAMC, WAMK, WOSR, WCEL, WCAN, WANC, WAMQ, W205AJ, W226AC, W299AG public radio stations, New York/Berkshires/Southern Vermont
July 6. NBC News with Tom Brokaw, interviewed by Sylvie Oberlander, Washington D.C.
November. Amherst Cable TV, John Coul
November. Morning News, CNBC
Future Watch, CNN