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April 08, 2020

Writing Your Ancestor’s Story and Your Story

Writing Your Ancestor’s Story and Your Story

Written by: Nancy Massey, Indiana Room Coordinator, masseyn@hamiltoneastpl.org

Since I now have lots of time at home, I alternate researching HEPL’s four fantastic genealogy databases with cleaning up my online family trees. Sometimes I find that I accidentally attached duplicate information to the tree. I also clean up my family trees on my genealogy software as the duplicates from those online sync with my software trees. While I am “pruning trees,” I write narratives or short transcriptions of the facts of my ancestors in preparation for a family history book or to clarify for myself why I saved that record. You can do this too as an alternative to doing research.

Writing about your ancestors as you do the research helps you to examine your facts and analyze them in terms of “do they make sense?” I often write a transcription of the facts I’ve found and put them in chronological order. Not only is it a great start towards writing that family history, it makes me really examine that document and/or record for accuracy. When working with the online trees at Ancestry, I use the “Notes” section. Even if your tree is public, the “Notes” section is private. In genealogy software, there is always a section to record your research notes.

I recently received an email from a genealogy friend who is writing her story for her descendants. We all have a story to tell! She reminded me that as genealogist we would love to find a diary or a journal written by our ancestors. She is right! That is exactly what I would love to find!

So, start writing your story. Don’t think too much, just write! Out of ideas? Well, try writing how you feel about “staying at home” during this pandemic crisis. You are living history as it happens. Your descendants will want to know what you did and how you survived.

At our March genealogy roundtable at the Noblesville library, we discussed writing our ancestors’ stories. At our April roundtable, our first virtual roundtable using Zoom, we are going to discuss writing letters to one or more of our ancestors to ask them, “Why did you do that?” We may want to consider writing a letter to our descendants to tell them our story so they will know just why we did certain things. So, write those letters during this time of confinement. If nothing else, just writing about how you are spending your time during this pandemic can be a great stress reliever.

Check our event calendar to register for this roundtable. Hope to “see” you on Tuesday, April 14 at 2pm!