Once a day on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page a new post is shared. There is a theme for each month and June’s was writing and documenting your family history. You will get bonus posts relating to the theme but only on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page these will not be posted on the monthly blog review.
Since we did oral history last month we are going to look at writing and documenting your family history this month. Writing our family history is something we all put off. Remember one thing – the research will never be finished so start writing today.
There are several useful books on the subject. The first is “Writing and Publishing Your Family History” by John Titford. This is a publication from England.
Another one is “You Can Write Your Family History” by Sharon Carmack
“Writing Family History and Memoirs” by Kirk Polking will help with both your family history and when you start to write your own stories.
Don’t forget about adding more than names and dates to your family history. “Bringing Your Family History to Life through social history” by Katherine Scott Sturdevant provides guidance to help you find out more about the time in which your ancestors lived.
“Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century A Guide to Register Style and More” was edited by Michael J. Leclerc and Henry B. Hoff and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Don’t forget about citing your sources. “Evidence Explained” by Elizabeth Shown Mills is the main reference for this.
Are you afraid of the blank page? Don’t be. My Aunt, an author and teacher, always told me that the writing process starts with the editing. Start putting the words on paper and the rest will follow.
There are blogs that will help guide you through the writing process. The first is “Create your Life Story helping you record a lifetime of stories.”
You might also want to check out the blog Family History Writing.
I think the name of this blog says it all.
Are you thinking of writing your own memoirs? This blog might help.
The Heart and Craft of Life Writing is an interesting blog.
Writing your family history can take many forms. A lot of people write their family history in the form of a blog. It is usually free to start up and you can write something as long or as short as you want. The good thing about this is that it is not as daunting as a book. It is a story and each time it can be different. Write enough stories and you will have your book.
Some people like to keep family up to date with their research and family history stories via a newsletter. Stark County District Library in Ohio has a guideline for doing this online. They provide a bibliography of books to help you with the process.
One book that I like is “Start Your Own Newsletter from Scratch” by Jim Terhune. It was published in 1996.
If you share your newsletter with extended family you never know what new information may come from it. A story you write or documenting some research you have done might jog their memories.
If writing the history of your whole family is too daunting then why not start with you? You know your own history better than anyone and have most of the documentation and memorabilia that relates to your life. The first rule in genealogy is start with you!
You can write your own life story with the help of websites who will guide you through the process.
Writing your family history doesn’t always have to mean writing a book. You could scrapbook your family history and write journal entries. Again you can start with you and your family, and then move on to other generations. Martha Stewart has several ideas.
You might decide to do a digital scrapbook. You can find a guide on PDF here.
Does your family have a lot of recipes that have been handed down through the generations? Writing a family history cookbook could be another way of documenting your family history.
Gena Philibert-Ortega has just written a book called “From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes”
If you are going to produce a family history cookbook you could make every recipe you want to include in the book and take a photograph of it. Write down the memories and stories that are associated with the recipe. Then write a small biography of the ancestor who originated this recipe. If you don’t know the original ancestor then the ancestor who is most associated with the recipe.
A good book on the subject of creating a family history cookbook is: “Meals and Memories: How to Create Keepsake Cookbooks” by Kathy Steligo. This was published in 1999.
You could start writing your history by picking the ancestor you feel the strongest connection to and write their story first.
Is there an ancestor who accomplished a lot during their life time? Start to write their story.
Write the story of an ancestor who was involved in major world events such as war, natural disaster, economic downturn, a mass exodus or something different like winning a sporting event.
If you have a black sheep in your family you could start writing their story. Remember that if there are people still alive who might be adversely affected by this story to keep it private to spare their feelings.
Do you have an ancestor who led an everyday normal life like the rest of us and you don’t know where to start? Augusts’ 366 Days of Genealogy might be able to help.
The important thing to remember is to start now and not put off writing your family history until tomorrow.
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