On the Bookshelf: Writing Family History
9/26/2009

When you consider the type of family history you want to tackle, think of the options as seven genres of genealogical writing. Browse this list for examples in each genre:

Technical Genealogical Narratives
The Langhornes of Langhorne Park by D. Brenton Simons (Newbury Street Press)
Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts 1742-1998 by Franklin A. Dorman (New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Life Story Writing
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (Simon & Schuster)
Dad Was a Carpenter: Blueprints for a Meaningful Life by Kenny Kemp (Alta Films Press)
Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon by Silvia Pettem (The Book Lode)

Family History Narratives
The Hatch and Brood of Time: Five Phelps Families in the Atlantic World, 1720-1880 by Peter Haring Judd (Newbury Street Press)
A Scattered People: An American Family Moves West by Gerald McFarland (Ivan R. Dee)

Family History Memoirs
Halfway Home: A Granddaughter's Biography by Mary Logue (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball (Random House)
Where She Came From by Helen Epstein (Plume)

Genealogical Fiction
Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley (Dell)
Sally Hemings by Barbara Chase-Riboud (St. Martin's Press)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (The Penguin Group)

Edited Letters and Diaries
A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Vintage Books)
Rose Cottage Chronicles: Civil War Letters of the Bryant-Stephen Families of North Florida by Arch Fredric Blakey, Ann Smith Lainhart and Winston Bryant Stephens Jr. (University Press of Florida,)

Writing Guidebooks
Writing Family Histories and Memoirs by Kirk Polking (Writer's Digest Books)
Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach (Story Press)
Writing the Family Narrative by Lawrence P. Goldrup (Ancestry)
For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History by Charley Kempthorne (Heinemann)
Bringing Your Family History to Life through Social History by Katherine Scott Sturdevant (Betterway Books)

Genealogy Writing Courses
Check with adult education and community colleges. Many offer courses in life story writing, creative writing and creative nonfiction writing. Writer's Online Workshops offers courses in life story and personal/family memoir writing.

 

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