About Our American Stories

How many of us really know our family histories?

Recording these stories and putting together the family history is one project almost everyone promises they will get around to some day. Or perhaps you already have your history somewhat organized, but could use assistance in putting it all under one roof and maybe adding to it. We would love to meet with you and discuss a plan to best achieve your goals.

It is simply a matter of engaging the services of experienced personal historians.

We have been saving people’s memoirs and family and company stories for more than 25 years through oral history video and audio recordings. For our clients who want a book of their history, we put our experienced interviewing and writing skills to work to produce good reads. We then enhance these stories with a mix of photos, family trees, maps, and time lines.

Kristin Delaplane and Duffy Jennings have been conducting interviews and working as writers since the early 1970s. They both worked at the San Francisco Chronicle where Kristin was an interviewer and columnist and Duffy was a prize-winning reporter, whose work was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize nomination. It is their second nature to establish comfortable and trusting relationships with the people they are interviewing so that the stories flow forth.

Contact us. The opportunity is now.

“Oral histories show appropriate respect for the lives and experiences of those who have come before. And, just as important, they document those remembrances, for once those lives are over, that personal knowledge is lost forever.”
— David Baldacci
Kristin Delaplane

Family & Company Historian

Kristin at her father’s desk at
the San Francisco Chronicle, 1947.

Kristin captures memoirs and family or company histories through oral history interviews and historical and genealogy research. The end result may then be crafted as a narrative for a personalized book.

From the great American landscape her clients have included notable American families and celebrities, including Best Actor Oscar winners and a Kennedy Center Honoree recipient. A number of these histories are now deposited in major archives in the United States.

Click HERE for Kristin’s personal website and her archives.

Kristin’s workshops on Oral History Methods have been featured with the University of California, colleges, high schools, museums, historical societies and private organizations. Her latest book, Storytelling: How to Write an Inspiring Memoir, Oral History, or Family Genealogy, was a direct result of these workshops. She may be contacted about conducting classes in person or online. (click HERE to request more information). 

Kristin’s project management and consultancy services have been employed by business such as San Francisco’s famed Buena Vista Café, Genentech Corporation, and the San Domenico school in Marin County, California. 

Named oral historian for the highly accredited Vacaville Museum in Solano County, California, Kristin, with a $50,000 grant, initiated and oversaw a three-year project involving over fifty oral histories that resulted in a museum exhibit and the publication of Solano’s Gold: The People and Their Orchards

A newspaper feature on California history, “Echoes of Solano’s Past,” conceived and written by Kristin, appeared in the award-winning Vacaville Reporter from 1995 through 1999. In 1998, a television documentary, which was co-produced, written and narrated by Kristin, won a Cablevision Award. 

In 1998, Kristin published A Gold Hunter: Memoirs of John Berry Hill, which was based on her ancestor’s California gold rush journal. The book was named an official California Sesquicentennial Resource. 

From 1972 to 1993, Kristin was the inquiring photographer columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. This column, Question Man by Conti, was regarded as one of the best in its genre and garnered notable recognition including a day in San Francisco named for Kristin.

  • Miriam Moore Delaplane
    & Kristin Moore Delaplane
    c. 1950 in San Francisco
    by I. Magnin *

  • Same place in 2007.
    Miriam 4th generation
    San Franciscan,
    Kristin 5th generation.

I. Magnin was a high fashion luxury department store on Union Square.
* Photo by Joseph Selle – San Francisco Street Photography

The Delaplane Scholarship

“The Delaplane Endowed Fellowship” has been established for the journalism school at University of California at Berkeley in honor and memory of Stanton Delaplane, Kristin’s father. Click HERE for the university’s official announcement.

From Wikipedia: Stanton Hill (“Stan”) Delaplane (12 October 1907 – 18 April 1988) was a travel writer, credited with introducing Irish coffee to the United States. Called “last of the old irreplaceables” by fellow-columnist Herb Caen, he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for 53 years, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

In Kristin’s Words:

My father named me with the idea in mind that it was a good byline. He said certain letters were strong and “K” was one of the strongest. My father wrote a daily column. Half his column was a travel column, so he was out of the country about six months a year. Half his column was about family life. To become even more the apple of his eye, I unconsciously learned early on how to be good copy. “And How She Grew,” was published in 1961. 

In His Words (a Highly Selective Introduction to Stanton Delaplane):

  • There are a number of books on how to raise children. This is not one of them.
  • While my child was growing up, I wrote a daily column. It is a day-to-day, hot-off-the-press record of how we grew.
  • It took a large stage and cast of characters. You cannot raise children without bankers, builders, dogs, cats, bees, a set of home plumbing tools and an occasional dry martini.
  • This book is not about how to raise children. It is about how to survive.
  • As Dr. Been Reyes puts it so well in the Years from Five to Ten:
  • “This is the docile age. The child is seldom disobedient. In fact, the reverse is true, the child, oriented upon the parents, seeks approval. Such things as thumb-sucking are easily overcome by the understanding parent.”
  • I raised my child by the books. I was a Monday morning quarterback to Spock and tried to outguess Gesell.
  • Without reading a blooming line, my child outguessed us all.

  • Outside the home in San Francisco.

  • Drinking Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café.

  • At our home in Sausalito, California, in 1949.

  •  

    The cover of my father’s book about me, published in 1961.

Duffy Jennings

Interviewer & Biographer

Duffy at his desk at
the San Francisco Chronicle, 1977.

Duffy Jennings has compiled a distinguished career as a nationally recognized newspaper journalist, public relations professional, magazine publisher and freelance writer.

Jennings served 13 years as a prize-winning reporter, City Hall correspondent and assistant city editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, where his work was submitted for Pulitzer Prize consideration.

Subsequently Duffy was vice president of public relations for the San Francisco Giants and has held other senior executive communications roles. He co-founded Los Gatos Magazine in Silicon Valley and has also been a blogger, public speaker, radio host, speechwriter and journalism teacher.

With the Chronicle in the 1970s, Jennings covered the Zodiac and Zebra serial murders, the Patty Hearst kidnap, the City Hall assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk and the ensuing murder trial of former Supervisor Dan White.

Click HERE for Duffy’s personal website and his archives.

As a member of the Giants’ front office in the 1980s, Jennings supervised public and media relations for the 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, two National League Championship Series and the earthquake-interrupted 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park.

Jennings won the International Association of Fire Fighters national newswriting prize for his series on life inside San Francisco’s busiest firehouse, and has been honored by Major League Baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, among others. Veteran actor Adam Goldberg portrayed Duffy’s character in the 2007 feature film “Zodiac.” 

A native San Franciscan, Duffy earned his BA in journalism from San Francisco State University.

He was named after San Quentin Prison warden Clinton T. Duffy. But that’s another story.

  • From the Paramount and Warner Bros. feature film “Zodiac”—San Francisco Chronicle reporter Duffy Jennings (right), as played by Adam Goldberg, with SFPD Homicide Inspector Dave Toschi, as played by Mark Ruffalo.

Dean Southern Jennings

Dean Jennings

Dean Southern Jennings was a prolific Hollywood ghostwriter and biographer, novelist, magazine writer, crime reporter, publicist and former San Francisco Chronicle gossip columnist.

He was the author of nine books, including autobiographical collaborations with TV star Art Linkletter, film mogul Jack Warner, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and San Quentin Prison warden Clinton T. Duffy. His 1967 book on the life of gangster Benjamin Siegel, We Only Kill Each Other, was the basis for the 1991 Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning film “Bugsy.” His other books included two novels and a memoir of his newspaper days.

Jennings also wrote more than 600 magazine articles, including dozens of celebrity profiles for the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Reader’s Digest and other national magazines. His subjects included John Wayne, Victor Borge, George Raft, Jack Webb, David Niven, Rod Steiger, Connie Francis, Edgar Bergen, Kim Novak, Ernest Borgnine and many more.

He worked on newspapers from San Francisco to Paris and was the first reporter to reach Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis when the aircraft touched down at LeBourget Field in Paris after its trans-Atlantic crossing in 1927.

Jennings began his journalistic career as a reporter for the San Francisco Journal in 1923. He worked as a sports writer for the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Herald in 1924. In 1925 he went to France and worked as a reporter and rewriter for the Paris Herald.

In 1928 Jennings returned to San Francisco and became the chief rewriter for the Call-Bulletin until 1934, when he became executive secretary of the Northern California Newspaper Guild. From 1951 to 1953, Dean wrote a man-about-town gossip column for the Chronicle, “It’s News to Me.”

Jennings’ files of manuscripts, correspondence, recordings, notes and other records are archived in the Special Collections of the Knight Library at the University of Oregon.