Sunday, February 10, 2013

Put it in writing ...

Time for another blog entry and I am in the midst of trying to write up some family history, hoping to have something to pass along to interested parties in the next few months.

This continues to be remarkably rewarding exercise, and one that has transformed itself from simply one of captioning my precious documents and photographs to giving a reasonably detailed account of the family’s growth, movement and change over the years.

Jasper Newton Howard
It has spurred me to read more background material on the regions where family members lived, examine the possible reasons for their moves, and study the social conditions of the period(s).  I have sent for magazine articles from PERSI, strived to find copies of original documents where I had only secondary references, and worked to obtain complete records where I had just a single item (such as a will, instead of an entire probate packet).

It has also encouraged me to explore the less-used features of my word-processing and genealogy  programs in order to develop an appealing physical layout, with charts, maps and photographs.  

AND it has pushed me to sharpen my writing skills so that the narrative doesn’t sink into a series of mind-numbing “begats.”

All this so the years of effort I have joyfully expended won’t be utterly lost on future generations. Wouldn’t we all like to think that after we’re gone our research would still count for something?  If you are considering this kind of project (and I truly hope you are) there are plenty of books and articles to help you on your way. To get started, try Cyndi’s List, a genealogical treasure trove.  Her topic “Writing your family’s history: general resources” can get you started.  Enjoy your adventure!

In case you are unfamiliar with PERSI, it is an index to genealogical periodical articles maintained by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The PERiodical Source Index is available online at home if your public library subscribes to Heritage Quest, or if you are a subscriber to Ancestry. has a good description of its offerings.

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