Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Stories I Need To Write

About six years ago I wrote basic family histories for my main ancestral lines to share with my family. A couple of years ago I wrote the stories of several individuals from my tree who I found interesting. Now, the stories I need to write are about my grandmothers. I've been thinking about this for a while and it is starting to nag at me more and more.

When I wrote about people in my tree before, they were largely people for whom living memory is almost if not completely extinguished. The reason I need to write about my grandmothers (and yes, I should write about my grandfathers too) soon is because there are numerous people who know more about them than I and can proof my drafts. 

My maternal grandmother

Initially, I didn't feel compelled to write about my grandparents because I knew them. There isn't the element of mystery there is with long dead relatives. However, if I get these stories written soon I can draw on numerous living resources to add details. Considering how much I learned about my long dead kin I can only imagine how much more complete a picture I will be able to paint of my grandparents. 

My paternal grandmother

While writing I will naturally think of questions to pose to living relatives. The answers will certainly enhance my stories, but anyone who has conducted a family history interview knows that it is sometimes difficult to extract memories even from willing volunteers. Sometimes you don't know what question to ask to draw out the mini stories in their lives. The thing I'm most looking forward to is providing my stories to my family and asking for comments. With an outline of my grandparents' lives in front of them, I'm sure memories will be sparked. I can insert specific questions in the draft and because they are in context, there is a greater chance I'll get some helpful responses.

If my goal is to better understand my ancestors, what better way than to write their stories while there are still people who can flesh them out? And then after I finish those stories I need to start on my great-grandparents. While it's true that my living resources for those stories are fewer, I can probably still glean a few details I couldn't get from any other source.

I think I'll go get started right now.

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