Write Your Family History to Life: Choosing a Topic

Your first step in writing your family history is selecting a topic. This takes a review of your family history documents and artifacts as well as often told (or never told!) stories. Follow up by asking, “What’s here? What’s missing?”

Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 1

Do you want to reveal your family member or ancestor as a unique human being rather than the sum of lifeless facts often found in family history biographical profiles? One way to write a family member or ancestor to life is to write a family history biographical essay.

Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 2

Once you have a concept or main idea in mind for your biographical essay, you’ll want to consider whether you have the knowledge and resources needed to write your piece. Begin by listing what you know about your subject and what you need to know before you start planning and writing.

Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 3

Once you have your subject, concept, resources, and research complete, it’s time to develop your writing plan. Jump into the planning whether you have all the content you need or not. Remember, writing is a messy process, and you will probably weave in and out of the steps we suggest many times as you develop and revise your work.

Write Your Family History to Life: Choosing a Genre to Frame Your Topic

Once you’ve selected a topic, you’re ready to choose a genre to frame it. Simply put, a genre is a format or type of writing. We suggest first adopting creative nonfiction as your overarching genre. Then, with creative nonfiction as your guiding genre, select the creative genre that will best serve your purpose and engage your reader.

Write Your Family History to Life: Creating an Everyday Life World

If you can visualize, smell, hear, taste, and feel your ancestor’s everyday life world, you can recreate it in your readers’ imaginations.

Capturing a Family Member’s Essence

If you want your readers to feel the family members you’re writing about, facts are not enough. To capture your family members’ essence, you’ll want to invoke your creative mind through specific, concrete imagery.

Discovering the Stories in Your Family Artifacts

As family history writers, many of us research the origin of our artifacts and collect the “hard facts” about them, but what we really want to uncover are the meanings and stories our ancestors associated with them.

Writing Descriptive Vignettes Featuring Family Artifacts

In a past post, we presented writing about family artifacts as a “way in” to your family history. Curiosity about your family heirlooms as well as your ancestors’ everyday objects can lead you to a...

5 Ways to Celebrate National Aviation Day with Family History

This August 19th, the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday, is National Aviation Day, a holiday established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to commemorate the development of...

Exploring Family History Through the Stories of Those Who Lived It & the Artifacts They Left Behind

Exploring Family History and Its Ever-Changing Perspectives


Do you have the nagging sense there is more to tell about the people, artifacts, and stories behind your family history? Something beyond names and dates?

If you’re like us, you want to dig deeper. You want to know your ancestors as people, and you want the next generation to know us as living, breathing people. You want to write like a storyteller to uncover the story behind the names and fading photographs.

Our site is dedicated to offering strategies for writing about the past and present in ways that will interest, and maybe even captivate, current and future readers.



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