Through a case study of the decision making that led to the writer becoming a teacher educator, the purpose of this paper is to contribute to historiography by exploring the complex process of surfacing and interpreting memory. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology draws on the concepts of autobiographical memory and reflexivity, together with documentary and archival sources including newspapers and secondary sources. Findings: The outcome reveals that the process of memory is complex. It illustrates that allowing the participant a wide scope to work with pivotal memories, which may include those referring to material objects, may lead to unexpected and compelling explanations that have the power to change thinking in regards to related aspects of educational history. In this particular case, the findings reveal the long-term impact of boarding school experience. Originality/value: The paper expands the way in which educational historians may think about undertaking interviews by illustrating the need for investment of time and close attention to all memories, some of which may at first seem to be irrelevant. Additionally, while a significant amount of research had been published on the long-term impact of boarding school experience on students in the UK, a little critical historical work has been undertaken in regards to the Australian experience – this paper offers a unique contribution to the undertaking of that project.