Life Story Writing Class

Welcome to our Life Story Writing Class web page. We invite you to read a few stories that were developed in our weekly class meetings. We’re a diverse group in age, culture and life experience, giving us the opportunity to explore an enormous range of life stories courageously and in depth. We’re recording our personal and family histories to appreciate the richness of our lives and as a precious legacy for future generations. We hope others will also enjoy and benefit from our stories and be inspired to write their own life stories and family history.



Working Wood

Oktavi Allison appreciates the fine craftsmanship of her father and grandfather, carpenters in Harlem of the 1960s.

The Forever Gift

Teresa Brun Ancel was one of the few children surviving the Holocaust in her family. She remembers being treasured, watched over vigilantly and shared among her relatives amidst the ruins of Warsaw.

Seasons of Latkes

Gilda Feldman learns the fine art of making latkes from her mother-in-law and tries to pass on the hallowed tradition. Recipe included!


June Gatewood and her sister are raised by compassionate nuns in an English orphanage after their father is killed in action during World War II.

The Rotter Heritage

Following a trail of intriguing coincidences, genealogist Madeleine Isenberg feels compelled to research the story of a family that was killed in the Holocaust and helps reunite their descendants with their family history. 

Finding the Grave of My Great-Grandfather, Baruch Felsen

Jeanette Shelburne embarks on a genealogical treasure hunt to unravel secrets and heal old family traumas.

The Highly Decorated Dr. Aron Rein-Aronfy

Sussane Spira memorializes her grandfather, a physician who served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I and whose high military honors saved him during the Holocaust.

More Than "Something From Nothing"

Anita Wincelberg’s family and community help each other cope with the Depression in New York City.

Missed Taste of Ginger Ale

Barbara Wright first experiences the pain of racial discrimination as a child in Virginia, 1946.

Class Meeting Information

Class meets Tuesdays, 2:00-4:30 pm at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Archives and Reference Library, located on the 3rd floor of 1399 South Roxbury Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90035.

No writing experience is necessary, but eventually some students have developed their writings into published works. The class is ongoing and you may join any time. There is no fee. Class size is limited to 15. For security reasons, please register in advance.

For more information call (310) 772-7605 or email


There is free parking at the Museum of Tolerance: 9786 West Pico Blvd. (southeast corner of Pico Blvd. and Roxbury Drive). Park in garage, take elevator to street level; then cross to diagonal corner.

About the Instructor, Jeanette Shelburne

Jeanette Shelburne has taught Life Story Writing for 17 years and has a teaching career that spans 30 years, first as an instructor at Harvard-Westlake School and then for the Los Angeles Unified School District in Adult Education. She has written professionally for several children’s television shows (MGM Animation, Nelvana), and designed educational interactive programs (Fox New Media, Universal New Media, the Brighter Child Series), along with articles for genealogical publications.



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