Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Write Your Story

At some point during your research, you'll probably start considering if you want to write your family history. Writing is the best way to preserve your history. Creating a family tree is great but stories add depth to your genealogy. Personal anecdotes and details make your ancestors feel like real people and not just names and dates.

A writing project may sound intimidating but it's easy to get started.

First decide what sort of family history you want to write. Do you want you write a memoir or a biography? Are you creating a scrapbook filled with memorabilia? You also need to focus on the scope of your work. Many writers like to trace their line from themselves to the earliest known ancestor but maybe you would prefer to focus on the life of one specific person and their descendants?

When writing about ancestors that you know little about personally, use general historical information. Ask yourself: What was their profession? What would their typical day have been like? Are there any significant stories from their hometown that would have impacted their lives? What about national or international events or catastrophes? Did they move to a new area? How would they have adapted? What languages did they speak? What cultural or religious celebrations would they have observed? Using social history can help you pick out a common theme or plot for your story. For example, you can focus on the immigration experiences of your ancestors or on life as a pioneer settler.

Remember to cite and document your sources! They give your research credibility and help others with their own research.

If you want to get started or need moral support, join one of the NSGS writer's groups.

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