What Stories Do Americans Most Want to Tell?

Our research may surprise you!

Do you wish you knew more about your family history? Not just the facts, but the experiences and stories that made your ancestors who they were. When you know your past, you can appreciate the present moment even more. That's why for our latest research, we decided to delve into how Americans feel about writing their memoirs and documenting the past — both for themselves and for others. 

We discovered a rich array of information, from how the pandemic has changed our ability to learn about our family to what people believe makes a good memoir — we even found out which type of celebrity memoirs they'd like to read! 


Everyone Has a Story to Tell 

By writing a memoir and sharing your story you can inspire others, make sense of your past, preserve your heritage and grow closer to your family. Do you know someone whose life story would make for incredible reading, or have you ever thought about documenting your own? Our research found that 72% of respondents know someone whose personal story would make an interesting book. A full 58% have also been told they should write a book about their lives someday, while 68% have already dreamed about writing their own memoir

Preserving your personal history or family history is a powerful way to leave a legacy and ensure that the stories that matter are passed down and preserved forever. 


Our Founder Rutger (bottom left as a kid) with his grandfather Gerard (bottom right)

Keeping the Stories That Matter Alive 

StoryTerrace exists because its founder, Rutger Bruining, regretted not capturing the stories his grandfather told about his time as part of the Dutch resistance during World War II. Our research reveals that this regret is an incredibly common experience: nearly three quarters of people have a family member who died before they could have their stories written down. 

Whose stories did you cherish as a child? We discovered that the top three family members respondents looked forward to hearing stories from were their mothers (54%), grandmothers (51%) and fathers (48%). Out of all those we asked, three in four Black respondents choose their mothers as the family member with the best stories. 

Forgetting stories passed down from family members of close friends was also a common concern: 67% of people surveyed told us this was one of their fears. We also discovered that military members felt this the most strongly (43% of those asked), and those aged 25-40 years were worried about this the most.  

When it comes to whose biographies Americans would most like to read, grandparents came in first place, while military members very much wanted to tell their own stories. 

If you are worried about forgetting family stories, we can help you to capture them by pairing you with your ideal ghostwriter and creating a beautiful biography for you. 

Are You Connected to Your Family's Past?

Despite the extreme challenges of 2020, we were happy to learn that 63% of people found that the pandemic increased their ability to learn more about their family's history. As the world locked down, the dramatic rise in the use of technology created the perfect conditions to have meaningful conversations with family and friends. Interestingly, our research found that children of first-generation immigrants felt this the most, while men felt this more than women.

Were you able to connect to your family history more over the past twelve months?   



Famous Last Words  

Now that we have a better understanding of what stories Americans most want to capture, we had to wonder: What makes a great memoir? Our research found that overcoming adversity, an interesting adventure and a dash of humor were the top three elements people wanted in a great personal story. 

We also found that men favored reading about a life of adventure, while women prioritized humor. Our research also revealed that 41% of Americans have a particular famous person’s memoir they are interested in reading. Favorite celebrity memoir categories include entertainment (55%), activism (53%) and history (53%). 

It's clear from our research that Americans have a healthy appetite for learning about the lives of both their family members and celebrities. Stories are vital to human connection and our understanding of both the past and the present, so it’s important to write them down before the chance is lost.



If you are looking to write your own memoirs or to capture a loved one’s story, contact StoryTerrace or sign up for our newsletter. We look forward to helping you!


Written by Helen Morris
Image credits: by Boston Public Library, Rutger Bruining (StoryTerrace),

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