Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brick Walls Writing your Biography

In my years of research it took me a while, but eventually I started to understand the value of writing biographies on family members to better understand them. Looking at family members in the context of their lives helps me better understand them as well as understand the areas I need to do further research for clues. Taking the time to put it into writing has always helped me learn better. The same applies for genealogy. Starting from their time of birth and identifying all the events in their lives helps to understand them. Where were they born? Location? Do I know their parents? Did they attend school? How long did they attend? When did they get married and to whom? Where were they married? Did they go off to war? When were the children born and where? Have they moved? What local and world events were going on that influenced their decision making? What did they do for a living? Did they get married more than once and why? Did they have more than one family? What religion did they practice? Where did they die and when? Who was the witness on the death certificate? All of these questions force you to put your detective hat on to resolve questions on our ancestors. I am always struck how there is one little detail that we miss that when writing the biography sticks out and leads to resolution on our mystery. Stories are what make genealogy fascinating and more interesting to the average family member. The truth is out there we need to identify where it is and retrieve it. So as we move into the Fall months sit down with one of your favorite ancestors and write their biography. Better yet start with yourself. This can be a fascinating way to learn how to write a biography. Who do you know more information on than yourself? One day future genealogist will want to learn your story.