Have you written a family history? If no, what’s stopping you? Lilian Magill from Sydney, Australia recently finished writing a family history for her family and published it too. I couldn’t be more giddy about her success unless I were a member of her own family. Read how Lilian succeed.
During RootsTech, 2017, I attended Andy and Devon Noel Lee’s workshop titled, ‘Start Writing Your Family History Today.’ Even though I had written blogs, about different family members, mainly as ‘cousin bait,’ I was still procrastinating about actually writing at least some of my family history, in greater detail. This workshop and their book, ‘A Recipe for Writing Family History,’ inspired me to take the next step.
|Lilian Magill and Devon Noel Lee, after the workshop. RootsTech 2017.|
The workshop gave me various ideas to expand beyond names and dates by looking at newspapers of the time, look at what the weather was like, explore their wills, anything to bring them to life. The book outlined seven simple steps, which starts with selecting an ancestor and finishes with a full story. Buy the book, it is well worth it!
|My copy of A Recipe for Writing Family Historyunpacked after traveling home to Australia.|
I printed off my blog posts on the family I selected. Then going back over the documents I have for each person, started expanding their story. I will say that I had a chapter for each ancestor in that line and worked on only one at a time. This way I stayed focused on what I was searching for and didn’t get side-tracked, (Well, I did, sometimes).
In my quest to find out more about the family I searched newspapers, from the 1830’s to 1940’s, taking notes of what I found and what I didn’t find, this is important, too. Birth, death, and marriage announcements, lead me to families I didn’t know about. Births and deaths of children, that didn’t make it to their first birthday. Details of wedding dresses, guest lists, and a list of gifts brought a wedding to life. A divorce notice had me searching for the juicy details and then a remarriage of one of the parties, really spiced up their chapter.
Your story is far more than a name and two dates. It is the little things that make our ancestors real and engages us in wanting to find more about them. As Devon says in her book, craft one simple sentence. This is the start of your writing journey
|I did it! The book is finished and published.|
My finished book is ‘Going Once, Going Twice, SOLD! The Family Story of Charlotte Chasmar and Henry Vaughan, Auctioneer.’ It is the result of this advice. If you would like a copy, priced at A$10 (AUD), plus postage, please email me, lily at researchbylily dot com.au and I would be thrilled to send you a copy.
So select and ancestor, craft that simple sentence, and start you journey. (Buy their book, too. Here’s the link.)
Bye for now,
I’m beyond thrilled for Lilian. I’ll be ordering my own copy of her book! If we met up at RootsTech 2018, I’m hoping she’ll sign a copy for me!
If you’ve completed a family history, inspired by my writing workshops or the book A Recipe for Writing Family History, leave a comment below with a link to your finished book. Let us all join in celebrating your success!
You can write a family history. It starts with one simple sentence and expands from there.