March Back Story – Memoir & Family History

Here’s a portion of the March Back Story issue, my monthly author’s newsletter.
To see the entire issue in a PDF, CLICK HERE. 
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BACK STORY – MARCH 2016

Happy March! I think I’m liking this bit about the groundhog not seeing his shadow! Instead of the iced in days we had in February this year, the trees are starting to bud out and Spring is in the air far earlier than usual. My white Iris, the earliest bloomers in my garden are already blossoming. The Bradford Pears are filled with an abundance of white froth. And the weeds are already thriving and trying to muscle in.

The theme this month is Memoirs & Family History. I’ve included some information for writing your own family histories – along with some special recipes from my Aunt Ida (given to her at her wedding shower in 1960.)

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!
Trisha Faye, texastrishafaye@yahoo.com

Aunt Idas recipes

The recipes featured from the 1960 wedding shower in Glendora, California are posted HERE.

Writing Family History

Here’s some tips from The Armchair Genealogist
A Lesson in Writing a Narrative Family History

If you are ready to start writing your family history book but not sure how to turn your research into an interesting life story then I have some tips to get you started. How do you write a descriptive, creative, narrative story about your relatives when all you have is a list of dry facts and documents to draw on? How do you turn your facts into a story about an individual you never met?

Believe or not before you begin writing your family history, I am going to suggest more research. However, this time, you may want to consider a few different sources. Up until now, you have sought out very specific documents that you can attach to your ancestors. Unfortunately, there will not always be a collection of documents to help identify your relative. Even with these documents in hand, you may need more if you want to write a narrative of your ancestor’s life. Below is a list of my favorite research sources for bringing to life the lives of an ancestor.

  • Interview the living -the first time you interviewed them you may have been seeking mostly facts, dates, and names. Re-address your living relatives with a different approach, this time, seeking out stories around daily events, traditions, hobbies and specific interests. Get to the root of who they were not just when they lived.
  • Turn to your digital library to find social histories and experiences of other people in the same given time and place.
  • Look to town and city histories during the period of your ancestors to help paint a picture of the community in which they lived.
  • Revisit the neighborhood of your ancestors to appreciate the kind of community they came from, who their neighbors were, and the struggles and strengths of their community.
  • Look to timelines of wars, natural disasters and epidemics to understand the world and local events your ancestors lived through.
  • Read about cultural customs including foods, music, social events and traditions of their homeland.
  • Fiction novels although to you may seem unconventional, can sometimes offer up a very detailed window into the lives of our ancestors. Many historical fictional novels were written with great care to insure historical accuracies. Writers invest a lot of time in painting a picture of the people of the time. These novels can be very useful in giving you a feel for the lives and perils of your ancestors through some major historical times and events.

Culling as much historical information as possible from all of these sources and weaving them with the biological facts of your relatives, will put you on your way to a creative narrative history that your family will want to read. Perhaps painting a picture of your ancestor where one may have never existed before.

Memoirs

From Writing & Selling Your Memoir, by Paula Balzer

On the differences between Memoirs and Autobiographies:

An autobiography is a biography written by the person who is in fact also the subject of the book. In other words, an autobiography is the entire life story of a particular individual. … Traditionally, autobiographies are reserved for individuals who are extraordinarily famous, since an autobiography literally spans an individual’s entire life …

A memoir has come to mean an autobiographical work that is generally more specific in nature or that encapsulates a specific period of time or an experience. … a memoir is not so much a “life story” as it is a “story of a life experience.”

On Memoir Hooks:

While most memoirs tend to fall into one of the following categories, I dare say it’s possible that every once in a blue moon, you’ll encounter’s one that, (gasp!), just might fall somewhere outside the general parameters … Here’s a closer look at what kinds of memoirs you’re going to find on the shelf at your local bookstore.

–Travel Memoirs and Spiritual Quests
–Food and Wine: Memoirs that touch the senses
–I’ll Take You There Memoirs
–I Will Survive Memoirs
–Love and Relationship Memoirs
–Memoirs of Exploration

Recommended Books & Web Sites

Writing and Selling Your Memoir, Paula Balzar

The Truth of Memoir, Kerry Cohen

Writing Life Stories, Bill Roorback with Kristen Keckler, PhD

Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories, CarolLaChapelle

http://www.rd.com/advice/great-tips-on-how-to-write-your-memoir/

http://thewritelife.com/how-to-write-a-memoir/

https://www.standoutbooks.com/writing-memoir/

Memories & Milestones: July 5 – 11

Here’s some dates to celebrate, from the new weekly column, MEMORIES & MILESTONES.

JULY 5-11

PT BarnumJuly 5, 1810: P. T. Barnum’s Birth Anniversary

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…” It’s the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, enjoyed by roughly 30 million people each year.

Much of the early success of this popular circus is due to a man born over 200 years ago. A consummate showman and brilliant promoter, he once said, “If I shoot at the sun I may hit a star.” He found his fame. PT Barnum’s legacy continues to bring laughter and enjoyment to boys and girls and children of all ages.

July 8, 1911: Nan Jane Aspinwall’s Grand Feat

In a year when American women didn’t have the right to vote yet, Nan Jane Aspinwall set out on a historic journey. She was the first woman to cross the United States on horseback. She covered 4,500 miles in 301 days. Why? Why, to deliver a letter from San Francisco’s mayor to New York City’s mayor, of course.

July 9, 1893: First Open Heart Surgery

With all the medical advancements this century, it’s amazing to realize that the first open heart surgery occurred well over a hundred years ago. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams operated on James Cornish, who suffered from a severe stab wound to his chest. The patient not only survived the surgery, but lived for many years following this groundbreaking surgery.

July 11, 1960: To Kill a Mockingbird Published

On this date 55 years ago, Harper Lee’s first and only book was published. To Kill a Mockingbird is a best seller, selling over 40 million copies since its publication. It was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and became an Oscar winning movie in 1962.

Overshadowing this milestone date, is Harper Lee’s second book, due out July 14, 2015. With a release date within days of this 55th anniversary, Go Set a Watchman is already a bestseller. Before it’s even been released.

This column is available for publication. Contact me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com for details.

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