Writing your Family History by Jackie Depelle

Zoom Meeting Thursday 17 November

Notes by Susanne Young

A lively and enjoyable talk by Jackie on the subject of turning your family history research into a published narrative.

First of all, decide what kind of publication you want to produce and who you are producing it for – this is a useful starting point for getting yourself organised. Remember to link each chapter, family or individual to yourself as author by inserting pedigree charts etc. Try to write creatively if possible and imagine what your ancestors’ lives were like. You may wish to produce a book, a website or a Blog.

Starting with family pedigree charts we can create information sheets for individuals and embroider these with interesting detail such as occupation, where they lived and any other useful facts. Remember to include details of your sources.

Internet sites or books about places where your ancestors lived can provide useful historical detail and illustrations to help build up a picture of where they were. Look for the churches where they were baptised, married and buried and the schools they attended.

Old maps are interesting to look up the places your ancestors lived and it may be useful to plot migration routes too if they re-located to new places. There are various ways to find old maps on the internet including Google roll-back, National Library of Scotland Map Images and Old Maps Online.

Research their occupations: Shire history books are particularly useful for this and general internet research can build an understanding of the work your ancestors did. If you don’t have photographs of your ancestors look for images on the internet or in books that portray what they may have looked like (take care with copyright permissions if re-publishing).

Place ancestors in historical context – both local, national and international using internet research: who was on the throne? look up relevant legislation which may have affected your ancestors’ lives.

Population studies, modes of travel and unusual weather conditions (Met Office website) can be interesting subjects to investigate and build into descriptions of your ancestors’ lives. If they have a military connection then look at the kinds of uniform they may have worn – are there pictures of medals they were awarded? Can you find war diaries that describe the activities of their regiment, or an individual service record?

There are lots of useful publications providing guidance on writing your family history by authors such as Gill Blanchard and Christine Lightfoot and there are many different ways to self-publish. So go on, have a go – it can help bring ancestors to life and provide a permanent record for yourself, your family and future generations.

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