Writing Family History

Reflections: Putting pen to paper with Family Tree magazine

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 14.44.55“We put a lot of time, effort and dedication into researching our family history, compiling our tree and filling box files and digital folders with page after page of records. We even get pretty good at relating the tales we’ve uncovered to any willing listener. But when it comes to writing up the story, then it often seems as though we’re not quite ready…”

With these welcoming words Helen Tovey, the editor of Family Tree magazine sets the scene for an article in the July 2015 issue written by Graham Barker of Auntie Mabel. As Graham explains, “In the article I suggest four starting points. The aim is not to write an end-to-end family history, but instead to create a series of vignettes or ‘glimpses’ into your ancestors’ lives.”

Each of the suggested writing activities uses one family history resource – a portrait, census return, heirloom or newspaper snippet – as the stimulus. The idea is to start simply, aiming to craft a few paragraphs of text. The case studies included in the article all revolve around one ancestor – Martin Collis of Leicester; they’re standalone pieces, but it’s not difficult to see how a series of such ‘glimpses’ could snowball into a fuller biography.

Graham’s really rather chuffed to see his article in print – thanks for your support, Helen, Karen and the team at Family Tree.