Writing a family history may seem like a daunting task, but when relatives get annoyed, you can follow these five simple steps to make your family history project a reality.
Choose a format
What do you see for the family history project? A simple photocopied pamphlet distributed only to family members or a large-scale book to serve as a reference for other hard-to- link genealogists ? Or you may prefer to produce a family newsletter , cookbook, or website. Now is the time to be honest with you about the type of family history that meets your needs and schedule. Otherwise, you will have a finished product that is half as annoying for years to come.
Given the interests, potential audience, and types of materials you need to work on, here are some forms of family history you can take:
- Memoir / narrative: A combination of story and personal experience, memories and narratives does not have to be all-inclusive or objective. Memories usually focus on a certain period of time or episode in the life of a single ancestor, while a narrative generally comprises a group of ancestors.
- Book dishes: Share your favorite recipes with the family in time you write about people they -They created. A fun project to assemble, cookbooks help continue the family’s tradition of cooking and eating together.
- Album or album: If you’re enough lucky to have a large collection of photos of family memorabilia, an album album or a photo can be a fun way to tell your family story. Include your photos in chronological order and include stories, descriptions, and family trees to complete the images.
Most family histories are generally narrative in nature, with a combination of personal stories, photographs, and family trees.
Defining the scope
Do you intend to write most of the time only about a certain relative, or everyone in your family tree ? As an author, you need to choose a central point for your family history book . Some possibilities include:
- Single Descent Line: Start with the first known ancestor for a particular last name and follow him / her through a single descent line (to you, for example). Each chapter of the book would cover an ancestor or generation.
- All Descendants…: Start with an individual or couple and cover all their descendants with organized chapters of the generation. If you want to record family history on an immigrant ancestor, this is a good way to go.
- Grandparents: Include a section on each of the four grandparents, or eight great-grandparents, or sixteen great-great-grandparents if you feel ambitious. Each individual section must focus on a single grandfather and work back through their origin or before his / her first known ancestor.
Again, these suggestions can be easily tailored to suit your interests, time constraints, and creativity.
Set realistic deadlines
Even if you find you are probably struggling to meet them, deadlines that force you to complete each stage of the project. The goal here is to get in each piece made within a specified time frame. Revision and polishing can always be done later. The best way to meet these deadlines is to schedule your writing time, as you would a doctor or hairdresser.
Choose a Plot and Themes
Thinking of your ancestors as characters in a family story, ask yourself: what problems and obstacles did they face? A plot gives your interest to family history and focus. The most visited plots of family history and themes include:
- Immigration / Migration
- Rags to Riches
- Pioneer or Life Farm
- war of survival
Not your background research
If you want your family history to read more like a suspense novel than a boring, dry textbook, it’s important to make the reader feel like an eyewitness to your family’s life. Even when your ancestors did not leave the accounts of their daily lives, social histories can help you learn about people’s experiences at a certain time and place. Read the city and town history to find out what life was like in certain periods of interest. Research chronologies of wars, natural disasters, and epidemics to see if your ancestors were influenced.Read about fashion, art, transportation and common foods of the time. If you don’t already have one, make sure to interview all your life relatives . Family stories told in the words of a relative will add a personal note to your book.