In the News

Founder Kitty Axelson-Berry (left) and Director of Publishing Ali de Groot (right) toast new Modern Memoirs owners Megan and Sean St. Marie.

Founder Kitty Axelson-Berry (left) and Director of Publishing Ali de Groot (right) toast new Modern Memoirs owners Megan and Sean St. Marie.

For Immediate Release 

July 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 180 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


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.


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

August 1. Bennington Banner, “Amherst, Mass: MAU alumna, spouse buy Modern Memoirs,” by Betty McEnaney

August 1. Daily Hampshire Gazette, Arts & Culture, “New Owners for Modern Memoirs.”

July 26. Amherst Bulletin, “The Lehrer Report,” by Phyllis Lehrer

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