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The Mechanics of Writing Your Family History, Part I

You've collected the data, researched the sources, copied the photos, and transcribed the tombstones...now what? If you are at a plateau in your research, dead-end, or are just itching to make your research public, you may be ready to publish a family history.

This lesson will focus on the mechanics of creating a published family history-it will not tell you how to research, write autobiographical or biographical stories, or how to arrange your photos. It will give an overview of the various options available to you, and provide ideas which may give you that push you need to get writing.

There are three basic types of publications that end up being classed "Family Histories"-an autobiography or biography of a specific individual or individuals (a.k.a. stories), genealogical details for limited generations of a selected family (a.k.a. scrapbook), or a detailed, sourced, researched-within-an-inch-of-its-life family history featuring several generations, sources, and analytical writing. Your family history can be any one of those things, or be made up of a variety of other characteristics.

Step One: Your Goals

Most people write a family history with a specific goal in mind: be it to share information with family members, write about an ancestor's life, or to create a source of information about a particular family or family line. Your goal will strongly influence how much work you put into the project; a full-fledged family history may require months of hard work, while a compilation of photos, family recipies, and traditions can be created relatively quickly.

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