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The Telling Takes Us Home: Discovering the Sustaining and Healing Power of Family Stories

August 29 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Joe McHugh

Master storyteller, old-time fiddler, and award-winning radio producer Joe McHugh will present “The Telling Takes Us Home: Discovering the Sustaining and Healing Power of Family Stories” on Monday, August 29, 7:00 pm, at the Boulder Junction Community Center.

Remember the story about how Grandpa Sawyer gave his gold watch to a hobo on Christmas Eve? Or the time Aunt Millie she saw her husband’s ghost on the night he was lost at sea? Or what about that quirky way your dad taught you how to drive?

Master storyteller, old-time fiddler, and award-winning radio producer Joe McHugh loves traveling to different regions of the United States to record people telling their family stories. Many of these stories have been featured on programs for public radio including NPR’s Morning Edition, Weekend America, and Inside Appalachia. They have also been heard on the international English-language service of Voice of America.

In this interactive presentation, Joe chronicles his adventures as a “story catcher” and talks about the kinds of family stories we like to tell and why we tell them and how family stories are not limited solely to those with a biological connection but can extend to anyone who shares a passion or vocation with others. He also demonstrates the various ways family stories can be used in literary works such as novels, memoirs, and poems as well as other creative mediums such as film, plays, music composition, podcasting, and puppetry.

Have you considered recording your own or a family member’s stories? What medium is best: text, audio, or video? What equipment would you need for audio or video recording? What free or inexpensive software is available for editing your recording?

And perhaps you have a short family story you would be willing to share with others during the event. What story goes with your favorite heirloom? What challenges did an ancestor face coming to America, escaping the Dustbowl, joining a labor union, or going off to war? Maybe you have a story about a hippie brother or cousin, an ancestor who helped lessen the suffering of others, the family’s teller of tall tales, or family member who found a treasure, or lost one.

Funny, sad, sometimes outrageous, Joe McHugh weaves together a complex tapestry of cherished stories that rekindle the imagination and remind us of what it means to be human.

Joe McHugh is a storyteller, musician, writer, radio journalist, and public philosopher who has worked for over thirty years helping young people, organizations, and communities find and tell their own authentic stories. He has collected and published books of traditional folktales from the mountains of Appalachia, produced multicultural festivals, directed a museum, designed a literature camp for children, pioneered the use of radio dramas with young people in the classroom, and produced and hosted programs for public television and public radio. He has presented at numerous national and regional conferences and has served as a project consultant for the California and Pennsylvania Departments of Education, the United States Justice Department, the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges, the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, and other organizations.

He is the author of Kilowatt, a modern-day fable about the energy industry and the nature of time, Slaying the Gorgon, The Rise of the Storytelling Industrial Complex, an examination into how different mediums of storytelling shape how we think and act, and the memoir Coins in the Ashes, a Family Story of Grief, Gratitude, and Grace, that chronicles his twelve-year long search for the family of an African-American woman named Helen who cared for him when he was a child and who helped his family survive a terrible tragedy.

Joe lives in Olympia, Washington, with his wife Paula Blasius-McHugh who is a painter, graphic designer, and musician. Audio stories from Mr. McHugh’s archived public radio series The Telling Takes Us Home, a Celebration of American Family Stories can be heard at: www.americanfamilystories.org

This free program is sponsored by the Boulder Junction Public Library and the Boulder Junction Area Historical Society. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please call the library at 715-385-2050.


August 29
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Boulder Junction Community Center
5392 Park Street
Boulder Junction, WI 54512 United States
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