Writing Your Family History : A Guide for Family Historians
Gill Blanchard's practical step-by-step guide to writing a family history is designed for anyone who wants to bring their ancestors' stories to life. She looks at ways of overcoming the particular problems family historians face when writing a family history -- how to deal with gaps in knowledge, how to describe generations of people who did the same jobs or lived in the same area, how to cover the numerous births, marriages and deaths that occur, and when to stop researching and start writing. Her book provides examples to help readers find their own writing style, deal with family stories, missing pieces of information and anomalies.
It also offers advice on key aspects of composition, such as adding local and social history context and using secondary material. The focus throughout is on how to develop a story from beginning to end. Exercises are a key feature of the text.
There is guidance on the various formats a family history can take and how to choose the appropriate one, with examples of format and layout. Production and publishing are also covered -- books, booklets, newsletters, websites, blogs and ebooks.
This book is a practical step-by-step guide to writing your own family history. The book contains six chapters, each dealing specifically with individual topics. The first chapter describes the type of story, the content and the number of ancestors that should be included. The following chapter suggests the length of the book to be written, and the setting of deadlines and goals. The remaining chapters adopt a more technical approach covering the development of writing skills, how to make the book interesting to the reader, how to proofread and tips and advice on publishing.
Each chapter is accompanied by a series of exercises and tips. The exercises are designed to practice and develop your own writing skills, your research methods, individual writing style, and composition. However, a majority of the exercises require a fair amount of additional work, some of which are time consuming, involving research at a local repository and producing pieces of written work.
The book is set out in an easy to read format with short paragraphs interspersed with tips and exercises. There are copious illustrations taken from photographs and original documents.
Gill Blanchard is an experienced family and local historian and author of many years standing who has produced a well-written and practical step-by-step guide to writing a family history. Although comprehensive in content I feel that it is only suitable for an individual who is serious about publishing their work. The average amateur historian or genealogist would find the amount of additional exercises recommended in the book time consuming and slightly off-putting. Nevertheless it is worth reading if only for some of the useful tips contained within the book.
Friends of The National Archives.