About the Life Story Commons

The Life Story Commons was established in 1988 as the Center for the Study of Lives, a research, educational, and service unit of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Southern Maine.

For the past 20 years, the Commons' mission has been to celebrate individual lives and strengthen community bonds by bringing people of all generations together to share life stories. It has accomplished this through recording and preserving the life stories of people of all ages and backgrounds, while serving as a meeting ground for all people interested in learning from each other's stories.

In all its various activities, including public forums and stage readings of life stories, the Commons has promoted intergenerational and intercultural communication and understanding by encouraging dialogue that examines the benefits of storytelling and personal narratives while also exploring questions of growth and change across the life cycle, the passage of tradition across generations, and the making of meaning across time.

The Commons is founded upon the belief that every person has an important story to tell about the life they have lived. Stories shared between multigenerational and multicultural groups become teaching tools by which we can gain a greater appreciation of both our commonalities and differences. Sharing our stories helps us to recognize that we are all members of the human family.

The Commons offers a proprietary protocol for telling life stories (Share Your Life Story) online along with an ever-expanding archive of life stories, beginning with its existing archive of over 400 life stories, each one averaging about 20 pages in length, that is fully searchable (Life Story Archive).

When you complete your life story here, we invite you to contribute it to the life story archive as your spiritual legacy that you leave for the benefit of the human family. As the archive grows, we will be featuring certain life stories periodically and also selecting excerpts from the life stories to feature in various topic and category sections.