Friday, June 22, 2012

8 suggestions for genealogy writers

Eight friendly suggestions for genealogy writers, after a few weeks' steady reading of many kinds of genealogical prose:

1. Ask your friends to read what you've written. Cultivate the friend who gives you the toughest critique.

2. A little sentimentality goes a long way.

3. White men wrote most of the histories you quote. They missed a few things.

4. Make me see the adorable baby or grandma. Piling on the adjectives won't help.

5. The ancestor who condemned beer gardens as degenerate may just have been a grouch.

6. Omit needless words. Then go back and do it again. (With apologies to Strunk.)

7. The past is what it was. Neither whining about it nor worshiping it will change any part.

8. Keep on revising until it's right.

Good luck!

William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style (Ithaca NY: W. P. Humphrey, 1918); digital images, Great Books Online ( : accessed 22 June 2012).

Harold Henderson, "8 suggestions for genealogy writers," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 22 June 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Cathi at Stone House Research said...

Great list, Harold. So glad you included #3. That is overlooked far too often. And hey - thanks for #1.