Inspired By a Family History Writing Class

I thoroughly enjoyed a class at a recent family history conference. Interestingly, it was probably the most ‘simple’ class of all, meaning it was a low technology class. The title was Putting Family Back Into Family History.

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I in for a treat! The teacher had a few simple display items: a house dress, an iron, and a quilt. Additionally, she gave everyone a copy of the My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together booklet for use during the workshop. I used my notepad so that I would have plenty of writing room, but I loved this little touch. A booklet to keep all the stories together. Now it was time to think about the stories that could go into such a booklet.

The instructor managed her time so well by introducing her theme and working these pieces into the class. Then she asked for audience participation. As an experienced speaker, she allowed for silence to not scare her. She knew that many folks, including myself, were thinking.

Additionally, she managed her time to allow for class participation. We had time to do writing exercises to take something home from the class. What a delight! I would love to take another class from her in the future.

Now, why was this writing class so good? The teacher shared a story and how it developed from one simple childhood memory. I don’t want to give her entire class but I’ll hit some highlights.

First, her memory started with her grandparents, her parents, and herself on a trip when their car broke down. Grandpa heads off to find help and the rest stay stranded in the car. She remembers her grandmother singing and comforting all in the car with her songs. Apparently, the songs were popular during World War II.

Now, the instructor could have stopped her story right there, but she developed the memory further and walked us through the process. This is where she took her class from good to great. All the while, she stopped for brief writing exercises to have the class engaged rather than just listening. She ended the class by showing how we can post our story, accompanying photos, and audio recordings to go with them on

The highlight for me was I actually had a memory to write about. I didn’t think I had any solid memories to share as I just can’t remember many details from my childhood. However, I did remember one story. I’ll share that story next week.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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