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Friday, March 12, 2010

Right Your Family History

I spent a half hour or so last night updating my family history web site. It's quite possible that I am the only person who reads what I've written there, but as I type I imagine I am sharing information with a reader who has an interest in, but no knowledge of my ancestors.

I write that my 2nd great-grandfather lived in Chicago "for some time". My imaginary reader asks how long? I check my notes and find that while gg-grandpa was indeed in Chicago for long periods, his stays were speckled with relocations to Michigan. My reader asks how I know these things. Of course I have census records, city directories, newspaper articles, family photos, and several obituaries as collaboration, but my reader doesn't know that.

It's important to me that the information on my web site is correct. Better to have less of a story than to post an inaccurate account. So I check and recheck to make sure I'm right.

My imaginary reader's insistence on knowing the whole story forces me to implement Genealogical Standards as well as literary style to my family history pages. It's like having someone looking over my shoulder asking me the hows and whys of each story. My imaginary reader guarantees that the stories I relay online are accurate.

In writing for an audience, I right the narration of my family history; verifying facts and filling in any missing pieces. And for that, dear reader, I thank you.


Becky Higgins said...

Great post, Laura!! Your technique in writing the family history is to be applauded.

DianaR said...

I love the idea of the "imaginary reader"!! It's so Charlotte Bronte :-) It is also a great reminder to look at whatever we write with through the eyes of someone who doesn't know all the details that we do - great post!

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