Just when I thought I had things under control, I re-prioritized my genealogy goals and began writing an article about my mother’s ancestors for a genealogy journal. I thought that I had most of the information on three to four generations of descendants. I thought that I had most of the sources for that information. Over the last month, I discovered that neither one of those assumptions are true. In this post, I describe my journey to date.
What have I done to prepare for writing an article? In January of this year, I participated in a month-long webinar about writing. I bought a book, Guide to Genealogical Writing, and have been reading it. I downloaded a template for writing using the Register style. I created an outline of people who I would be writing about. On the outline, I numbered each person as they would appear in the article.
Stratton and Hoff suggest to temporarily stop researching and start writing. So, I have done that. I discover gaps in family stories –gaps not always identified in my RootsMagic tree. Information on my RootsMagic tree on my computer is only partially complete, especially for the later generations. Sources are also incomplete. However, the families are becoming more real as I notice similarities and differences in family experiences. Example – sisters who both buried husbands and at least one child.
I began writing the family stories with the information that I have. As I write, I make a note in red that a source or other information is needed. I try to complete at least one person’s story each day. I follow the “cite as you write” guideline. Sometimes, I stop writing and follow clues to locate a source or other information. As a result, my personal tree is becoming more complete. So, the exercise of writing the family history for a genealogy journal has its benefits.
Previously, I focused on the older generations, typically those who lived and died before the early decades of the 20th century. This article includes four generations from my German ancestors in early 1800s through the latter part of the 20th century. I choose not to include information about any persons who are still living.
What have I learned from this? It takes more time than expected. There will be gaps to fill in. There will be sources to find. Even if my articles are not accepted for publication, I will leave fairly comprehensive and extensively researched histories to share with descendants. For your information, if the articles are not accepted for publication, I will share the information with you through my blog. Yes, I said “articles”. Last year, I started another article about a collateral family on Dad’s side. I put aside that article to tackle other projects. When the current article is done, I plan to take up the second one again.
© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021
 Penelope L. Stratton & Henry B. Hoff, Guide to Genealogical Writing: How to Write and Publish Your Family History (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014), p.3.