Monday, October 05, 2009

Write Your Family History

Fellow genealogical writer, Lisa Alzo, teaches a course for GenClass titled "Write Your Family History Step-by- Step" and since they were offering a discount on classes, I decided to enroll to give me the incentive to start writing some of my family history in a readable format.

As I am a published author of non-fiction titles for teachers, I know very well that you can learn something from everyone and this certainly is the case. Lisa sent out the first two lessons for the course a day early and in easily archived and printable PDF format. This course has no meetings and no homework which is perfect for me as I am a self-directed learner.

I am Facebook friends with Lisa and follow her on Twitter and I read her published articles in magazines. She holds an MFA in Non-fiction Writing. I feel confident that I will make progress in this course.

I have absolutely no formal training in writing. I was a science geek in my undergraduate days and I still feel most comfortable writing about technology in both education and genealogy. My most recent book on digital storytelling, is in final production and will be published in January.

In Lesson 1, Lisa asks some excellent questions about writing the stories of our family. All of these questions are ones that I have been answering in my blog posts in this blog but it is time to gather my ideas together, see what is missing genealogically, and begin to write a story based on my maternal line. I have been gathering the gravestone photos, books about both my ancestors and the time period in which they lived. Census records and city directories are helping with the later generations for the story that continues until today.

I own seven computers and a scanner. I purchased a new scanner for my Christmas gift and although it will not be used until then it has arrived here at my home. In Lesson 2, Lisa provides information about the genealogical aspect of the process and is very useful. I think anyone can get started with this process by following that lesson.

I have learned many things from my friend Maureen Taylor about preserving photographs and I am following her advise.

No matter how much research you have accomplished, there is more to be done. I still had to start pulling together the information into a notebook to be able to see what I have and what is missing. [so much is missing!]

Recently, I have switched from PAF to RootsMagic 4 and I am still learning the features and reading the book that Bruce Buzbee has written. I maintain a tree at and I use it as my main resource and I GEDCOM it out from there to my desktop. I am slowly writing citations, but for now, I am going to focus on the story.

Upon the recommendation of Denise Levenick, I downloaded a software tool called Transcribe to help me manage the transcriptions I will need for future projects. For the purposes of this course I only have two sources to tie into the story and they are mostly ready.

For some of you, this story begins with one I used as a blog post last year but now there is more to tell as my research has progressed.

This will be my only blog post about the lessons in this course unless readers are interested in hearing more. I will be reporting later on about what I am writing.

1 comment:

Thomas MacEntee said...

I just want to say that Lisa Alzo rocks! I had the pleasure of meeting her at SCGS Jamboree 2009 and not only is she "good people" but her wealth of knowledge esp. on writing is phenomenal!