Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I promised you a blog post on the storytelling aspect of writing your family history and here it is.  Dr. John Philip Colletta spoke several times during Dr. Jones’s class and he also lectured during the evening sessions.  Dr. Colletta is an excellent technical writer but the focus of his lectures was more on the creative side.  When I say creative I don’t mean fiction.  I mean putting your ancestor in context to the time period and to his surroundings.  Dr. Colletta is an expert in doing background research and then using that research to enhance the story.

Dr. Colletta told us about a nifty trick that I would have never thought to do.  Let’s say your ancestor got married on 01 Dec 1896.  You can look up the weather report for that day in the local newspaper and then weave that information into the narrative when talking about the marriage.  What a great idea!

If you do a little research of the marriage customs/dress of the time, place and culture you can then bring all of that information into the narrative.  Do you know for sure that the couple in question adhered to these social customs?  No, but you can easily qualify what you say:

“John and Mary married on a warm, sunny day, perhaps on the veranda of Mary’s parents’ house—the house where Mary had lived her entire life.  Mary was most likely wearing a new dress that her mother helped her sew for this special occasion.  John may have only owned two shirts but he could have spruced up his appearance by adding a pocket watch to his waist.”

By doing thorough background research and adding in a few qualifies you can craft an interesting story that is based on fact.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Michele, I used this nifty trick in my 52 Ancestors blogpost this week. Thanks for sharing!