Write your Family History

Writing your family’s history seems like a daunting task. Do you mention Great Uncle Edgar’s stint in jail? What about the diary kept by Grandma Lucinda, where she goes into graphic detail about plucking chickens and skinning rabbits? How do you distinguish between the four Elizabeth’s and five John’s in different generations without overwhelming the reader? Is there a good way to discuss an illegitimate cousin, without alerting certain family members who may not know of the status of that cousin, who happens to be in their direct family line?

Or—my greatest fear—writing a story about generation after generation who didn’t really do anything interesting, bad, or funny. You don’t want your readers to die of boredom and use the book as a door stop.

There are several ways to deal with these issues. For example, make sure Great Uncle Edgar’s and the illegitimate cousin’s living relatives already know what happened before you place it in print. With ancestors who have the same personal name, include a family tree and number each of the Elizabeth’s or John’s, so when you write about them, the reader can refer back to the tree to clarify who is who. For boring ancestors, include details of the time in which they lived, to add interest to the text.

For any other questions, come to the November 4th Genealogical Society program at the Batavia Branch Library. The topic is “Creating and Publishing a Cherished Family Book”. The program starts at 1 p.m. and will demonstrate the use of MS Word to help you write your family history.

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