I feel like I did a lot of work this week, and I didn’t get to work on things as much as I wanted to.
I read a great article from Vita Brevis (one of the blogs of AmericanAncestors.org and the New England Historical and Genealogical Society). Author Penny Stratton wrote about preparing your genealogical project for publication. Her two bits of advice this week were on the importance of writing a table of contents and coming up with a title. I already came up with a working title last week but had not written a table of contents. I also noticed this week that my father has a title of contents for his book which he uses as a checklist to track his progress. So I got to work and came up with a basic working table of contents for my book. I may have to change the subtitle of my book at some point since I do not intend to write about ALL of David’s descendants in this book. Perhaps I should just add a Volume 1 to the title….
The manuscript has now increased to 38 pages. I haven’t really begun writing any of the individual biographies yet. It is hard when I keep feeling like I can still find more information. It seems so final to write a person’s biography. At some point, I will just have to do it. Instead, this week, I began adding burial information to each individual’s biographical section, as well as writing the footnotes for those facts. I am a little tired of writing Find A Grave, database and images…. but it needs to be done. The gaps in my research are more apparent this way. Overall, I do know where most of the descendants are buried, but I am missing a few. So more research to add to my to-do list…. I have not quite finished this task but will hopefully be done next week.
I received the four obituaries that I ordered last week and ordered another set. I discovered that one of the female descendants had a marriage I was not aware of. She is also one of the descendants with missing burial information. Another obituary gave me a death location. Even though this person lived most of his life in Fort Wayne, and was buried there, he actually died at the home of one of his children in New Jersey. Who knew?!? Well, now I do. One of my death certificate requests came up as a bust. One of my great grandfather’s brothers lived most of his adult life in Indianapolis. He was also buried there but apparently he did not die in the state of Indiana. The Department of Health cannot find a record of his death. This just proves how important off-line research is. Not everything is available on-line, and if you want to really to discover the details of ancestors’ lives, libraries and archives are still our most valuable asset for research. So now, I have to figure out where Uncle George actually died.
I also need to write up a generic questionnaire to give to various family members to help them tell stories about their parents or grandparents: for everything from, where did your parents get married, did they have an obituary, where did they go to school, and what did they do for a living. Most people freeze when you just ask them…so just tell me about this person. Having actual questions can help narrow down and focus the memories.
© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found: https://genealogylady.net/2014/05/30/the-book-progress-report-may-30-2014/
Ain’t it the truth! “I didn’t get to work on things as much as I wanted to.” Sigh.
I love the Table of Contents.
Yes, try to get on with the writing: “I haven’t really begun writing any of the individual biographies yet. It is hard when I keep feeling like I can still find more information. It seems so final to write a person’s biography. At some point, I will just have to do it.” Before I can FINISH the 7th chapter of my book, there is a 450-page book I’ve got to read, but I can get most of the writing done and then add information, insights and corrections as my reading progresses.
Great approach: ” I also need to write up a generic questionnaire to give to various family members to help them tell stories about their parents or grandparents…so just tell me about this person. Having actual questions can help narrow down and focus the memories.” This is the time-tested principle of aided-recall. If the questionnaire is about relatives that they knew well, questions can include, “If there is any one thing about XXXX that you feel is special, or a story that you love, what would that be?”