Sunday, February 14, 2010

Preparation Sunday - Form and Style - Part 1

Preparation Sunday - Form and Style - Part 1

My Sunday posts going forward will be in one of three forms: 1) additional Preparation Sunday tips on preparing your ancestor stories to tell/share, 2) a once or twice a month report titled: "Civil War Sesquicentennial Sunday" where I will report on events and activities taking place during the current month in 1860, '61, etc., and 3) occasional Special Reports.

The Sesquicentennial reports will begin next week, 20 Feb 2010.

Form and Style - Part 1

Many of us don't even know where to start with "writing up" a family history story - an ancestor story - from the material we have on hand. I spoke of this generally in Step 6 of the 7 Steps presented earlier, "Write." Here we want to get more specific, with examples.

I am going to describe, and give an example of, what I will call the "Basic 3-generation family form." This form, or an expansion of it that we will cover in future posts, was the basis for the common family histories of the many county histories that have been published over the years, perhaps beginning with the Bicentennial about 1876. This basic form focuses on a couple, but also listing their parents and their children, thus, three generations. The other element of this form that is basic is what I will refer to as the "style" - that is, the manner of using the vital statistics. Here they will be shown as (year) only, rather than actual date. Let's see what this looks like.

James Preston Family

James P. Preston (b. 1835, Ft. Defiance, OH) married Ellen Rebecca Miller (b. 1850, Bryan, William Co, OH) in 1871 in Williams Co, OH. James was the son of William (b. 1780, Rumney Twp, Grafton Co, NH; d. 1837, St. Joseph Twp, Williams Co, OH) and Asenath (b. 1803, MI) (Butler) Preston. Ellen was the daughter of John (b. 1896, Berks Co, PA; d. 1888, Edgerton, Williams Co, OH) and Rebecca Firestone (b. 1808, OH) (Carle) Miller.

The Prestons live on a ranch south of Deer Lodge, in Powell Co, Montana, and have four children:

1. Ernest Guy Preston (b. 1872, Deer Lodge, Powell Co, MT)
2. Harry L. Preston (b. 1873, Deer Lodge, Powell Co, MT)
3. John M. Preston (b. 1874, Deer Lodge, Powell Co, MT)
4. Ellen Rebecca Preston (b. 1880, Deer Lodge, Powell Co, MT)

You can begin to see from this example how many variations you can consider if you wish to report more details. Or, you could give a little less detail, and remove just a little bit of clutter by not giving the entire place name as I did in this example. Perhaps you would prefer to go ahead and include the full date of birth (marriage and death) for each case. If you didn't know a lot of that detail, you may prefer to go with the above. You can make that decision. Just try to be as consistent as possible within the story... and among several stories if they will be shared as a group.

I look forward to your comments and any questions you have. We will expand our example in Form and Style - Part 2, forthcoming.

Families are Forever!  ;-)


  1. Dr Bill!

    I found the Geneabloggers highlight of yor site today and now that I'm here, I look forward to you weeekly tips on writing. I do hope to do that one day. Tips from a 'veteran' would be a tremendous help to those of us who don't know where to start.

    I also see that you are also participating in the 2010 games and are well on your way to completion. Good luck and see you at the finish line.


  2. After reading the Geneabloggers highlight today, and seeing that you are a fellow Geneablogger Games participant, I decided to stop by.

    One of the things I love most about genealogy is the stories my ancestors have. In order to share them, however, I have to start writing them. I'm looking forward to reading your tips.

    I also think I might need to check out some of your other blogs!