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Rather than printing a transcription of the letter, I just paraphrased it into my own words. You don't need to give us everything you know all at once. Here is a quote from a letter that I used to end a chapter in a family history: Now, be honest. Even if you were late to pick up your kids from school, wouldn't you turn the page for a peek at Grace's answer?And, of course, in the actual narrative, I inserted a footnote and gave the citation for the letter. So who was the other wise person who thought that a family history had to end when everyone in the story died?
Now you can write a compelling family history, too.
Sharon De Bartolo Carmack is a Certified Genealogist, executive editor of Family Tree Books (formerly Betterway Books), contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine, and the author of eight books, including A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors.
I've spent most of my academic career (high school, undergrad, and masters) producing history essays and over the years, I've learned a lot.
In this post, I will share a few tips that I've used to generate successful history papers! The crux of a history essay is establishing an argument and being able to generate a convincing case using reliable published evidence.
Fortunately, Roscoe had written a fabulous two-page reminiscences on his eighty-fifth birthday, about two and a half years before he died.
It contained his life's philosophies and ended with a great closing sentence: "Well, so much for the ruminations of a tin horn philosopher, just turned 85." End of story.Say you're writing about an immigrant family, begin the story aboard ship or the moment they step foot on American soil.Or say you're writing about a family who made the overland journey from east to west; open with what it must have been like on the trail.Reel the reader in with an exciting, happy, or tragic event, or a conflict.If you have letters, diaries, or an interesting record, you can open by quoting that source.Or who thought the story had to have a happy ending? You certainly don't have to kill off your ancestors if you don't want to, nor does everyone have to live happily ever after.You can end the story with your great-grandparents in their old age. After all, tragedies, throughout literary history, stick with us longer and have more of an impact on us.Most published genealogies aren't meant to be read. The ones with just names, dates, and places, some of them no more creatively done than printing out computer databases.Keep in mind that no one's family history is compelling and interesting, until you make it compelling and interesting.But remember: You are writing nonfiction, so you have to write your family history within the confines of fact.Here's an opening example: See how I plunged us right into the middle of the story?