"Writing Your Genealogy" SIG

The leader of this SIG is Dave Egelston (WritingSIG@NorthHillsGenealogists.org). Meetings are held at various times and at various venues. Please email info@NorthHillsGenealogists.org for the most updated information. Please check our website Events calendar or Meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com/North-Hills-Genealogists/) for additional details to confirm dates and times of upcoming meetings.
 
Below please find notes from recent meetings:
 
JUNE MEETING RECAP:
In the June meeting, members present shared writings on people, places (a Georgia town submerged under a reservoir), and things (the providence of an old toy chest). All presenters had props: books, photographs, maps, copies of letters, etc., that provided context for their writings. A few lessons learned from the June meeting: 1) Do not pass up the opportunity to attend a family funeral, no matter how distantly related – a recent funeral attendance led to the uncovering a famous ancestor (the 3rd Mayor of Pittsburgh). 2) If visiting a place where ancestors lived, do go to local flea markets – you never know what treasures they may hold. 3) Using visual aids when writing family histories, such as photographs of ancestors, allows the writer to remember that these were real living, breathing, working people.
 
MAY MEETING RECAP:
During the May meeting, the group discussed various projects they were working on. Two members are working on a biographical narrative of an ancestor, one several generations ago and one more recent. The conversation diverged into the cautions of interviewing elderly relatives - one caveat being not to take everything they say as uncontested truth. One member showed a chart she was preparing for a family reunion, while another was working on a proof argument, and another shared a story she wrote concerning a research trip she and her husband recently took.
 
APRIL MEETING RECAP:
At the April meeting, members shared various articles on which they were working. One person shared a memoir of early childhood, while another provided progress on her writing about her father’s WWII experience. Several members are working on a multi-generation family history, creating a narrative about one ancestor at a time. Another member is working on a proof argument. The SIG has settled into a pattern where members are now going about their own writing pursuits without “assignments.” As the group is now meeting monthly, members are encouraged to continue their writing so that they have work to share at the next meeting.
 
FEBRUARY MEETING RECAP:
In the February meeting, the members first discussed one of the member’s detailed account of his ancestor’s immigration to PA and his service in the Civil War. Further discussion was held on the proper way to cite references, specifically census records. It was generally agreed that Ancestry.com’s references are often of a mediocre standard, while FamilySearch’s are of a much higher caliber. The assignment for the next meeting is the start of an autobiography, to either A) Put together a timeline of your life so far, or B) Using Lisa Alzo’s Writing Exercises for Writing Your Family History: Life Story Guide, pick one topic or life event and write a few paragraphs.
 
JANUARY MEETING RECAP:
At the second meeting of NHG’s Writing SIG, much was discussed regarding writing up the stories of our ancestors. There were some big takeaways, including the idea to not worry so much about writing style, as each person’s style is their “voice." The group talked of the idea that the editing can wait until the story is down on paper, that writing an ancestor’s story within its relevant historical context makes it that much more meaningful, and the question of “If you don't write up your research, who will?” A motto of the day was “Don’t worry about writing – just do it!” The group also discussed that foonote citations are preferred over endnotes. A big takeaway was that every person has a story that needs to be told – we just have to make the time to do the tellin’! 
 
NOVEMBER MEETING RECAP:
Members discussed their aspirations and expectations for this new SIG. Most feel they have enough material to begin writing, but don't always know where to start. The group discussed some issues faced: needing direction as to what to include, how to start, how to organize and verify materials, how to use computer-based software to make the process easier, etc.