13 August 2010

More from Leslie (and me)

"Dig deeper," Leslie Huber advised us in our class about uncovering our ancestors' stories. She recommends putting the known events of a person's life into a timeline. And include major world events, local events and events from other people in that person's life. This timeline helps us get a feel for the flow of life and possible cause and effect relationships between events. Check out Leslie's website for more ideas on researching and writing.

My experience with writing family history has brought me to the same conclusion. Writing a timeline is always one of my first steps in doing a biography. When I look at the timeline, I can see holes in my research. I start to get ideas of where I need to learn more about a time period, a place or particular events. It also gives me an ideal place to begin writing--not necessarily in the same order as the timeline, but I see his or her life in a shorthand version all spread out before me. Then I can look for turning points and themes. Leslie Huber does this in her book about her ancestors. The theme she writes about in The Journey Takers is their emigration and she weaves that theme through the story of each of her emigrant ancestors.

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