Welcome to the website of the St. Louis Memory Project! May your visit be a rich opportunity for you to experience something of the lives and writings of Holocaust survivors who live in the St. Louis region. The writings presented at this site emanate directly from the peer feedback and learning opportunities afforded within the monthly Memory Project workshop sessions. Any Holocaust survivor is welcome to join The Memory Project writing workshops at any time.
On June 1, 2006, the program known as The Memory Project came to birth in St. Louis, Missouri at the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building, which is also home to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. It is one of five independent satellite programs based on The Memory Project program at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (which, in turn, was based on a wonderful, germinal program at Drew University) and was initiated with support from that institution.
The Memory Project participants are well aware that the act of writing is not simply a one-time action. It is, rather, an ongoing process of rethinking and revising to help their texts communicate to a reader as much of the fullness of the writers’ experiences as possible. A definite ration of courage is required of the survivor-participants, whose native language is seldom, if ever, English, to share the texts of their life stories, and they strive to maintain a working atmosphere that affords both a sense of comfort with and support for their colleagues.
At the three-hour-long workshop sessions of The St. Louis Memory Project, participants are at times invited to write spontaneously on issues (“writing prompts”) they had likely not attempted, but the bulk of the time is always focused on the peer-editing process of the texts they have written for that month. The participants and their facilitator, with texts of each writing in hand, listen to each of the writings presented by their colleagues and then offer feedback through support, questioning, and helpful suggestions. This input is always directed at accuracy, clarification, and understandability—never at imaginative invention, exaggeration, or falsification of the natural writing voice of the survivor or of the content. It is offered as something helpful for the writer to consider in further revising and finishing the writing, which was initially undertaken, perhaps, as a biographical record of family background, as a deep and current personal reflection for themselves on aspects of their history and experience, and/or as writing to publish.
Dr. Robert J. Hutcheson, the facilitator/teacher of the program, also includes brief lessons targeted at a number of general writing strategies and issues. Some of these may concern sentence logic, parallelism, word choice (diction), paragraph unity, topic selection, the needs of the reader, important aspects of Standard American English and conventions of writing in general.
As of February 2014, the submission of writings and input from Project participants are received via email. Publication on the Memory Project website continues to be an option.
Since new writings will regularly be added, you are invited to revisit this site from time to time. Should you desire to reprint these writing for educational or other purposes, you may request permission by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will contact the author and reply to you.
May you be moved by these life stories, may you ponder the unique riches they contain for you (painful as they may be), may you reflect often on your own life story, and may you work to make your own community more respectful and compassionate.
With best wishes,
Robert J. Hutcheson, Ph.D.
Teacher/Facilitator, The Memory Project