Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Family History Writing

How do you write an interesting family history?

Of course you want to include all the names and dates and events you've uncovered but to make your family history more engaging, you'll need to personalize the story and add social context.

Here are a few writing prompts that personalize and add interest to a family story:

  • How has your research changed your view of your family history? 
  • Was your family’s life impacted by important historical events? 
  • Has your research given you a better understanding of US history? What about the history of your family’s homeland? 
  • Have you visited a location where an ancestor lived? What does it look like now? What would it have looked like when your ancestor lived there? 
  • Do you remember any stories your grandparents told you about their lives or the lives of their parents or grandparents? Has your research backed up those stories? 
  • Do you know how your grandparents met and fell in love? How about your parents? 
  • Have you inherited any family heirlooms? Are there stories associated with these keepsakes? 
  • Write about an ancestor you find particularly fascinating. Why does their life interest you? If you could have a conversation with that ancestor, what would you ask?

Add social context to flesh out your ancestors' lives. To do this, look at the facts of your ancestors' lives and start asking yourself questions. For example: Did they live in the same place their entire lives? What was that place like? What was their occupation and what would their responsibilities in that job have been? Were they religious? What holidays would they have celebrated? You will want to think about the following themes when adding social context:

  • Emigration & Immigration 
  • Geography & Environment 
  • Property & Housing 
  • Community & Neighbors 
  • Ethnic Groups 
  • Religious Affiliations 
  • Childbirth & Childrearing 
  • Education 
  • Occupations 
  • Culinary Traditions 
  • Military Experience 
  • Civic Engagement 
  • Fashion 
  • Hobbies & Sports 

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