Thanks for the memory: Memory books as a methodological resource in biographical research

Thomson, Rachel and Holland, Janet (2005). Thanks for the memory: Memory books as a methodological resource in biographical research. Qualitative Research, 5(2) pp. 201–291.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794105050835

Abstract

The article describes the evolution of the ‘memory book’, an innovative method for biographical research. In the first part of the article, we explain the origins of the method, tracing our own journey from conducting memory work as a research group to the creation of memory books as a method to be used alongside interviews in a longitudinal qualitative study of young people’s transitions to adulthood. In the second part of the article, we map the form and content of memory books generated in the study, commenting on issues of audience and privacy. In the final part of the article, we discuss how we used the memory book data, distinguishing between their function as sources of documentation, resources for elaboration and critical tools for the understanding of identity. The article draws attention to the potential for the method to bring embodiment and the visual dimensions into a method dominated by text and discourse, as well as facilitating the expression of a range of ‘voices’ and time frames which complicate cohesive narrative presentations of self.

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