Family historystorians

Today was my family history writing group – this isn’t a genealogy group, this is for people who want to write about their family, to write their family’s history. There’s usually about ten of us which is a bit of a squash in our front room, but today for various reasons – people on holiday, people poorly, people cat-sitting, there were just four of us.

What we lacked in number we more than made up for in interesting stories and I am so delighted that some who had really lacked confidence about their writing skills had set to with the suggestions I had made last time.

leading this group has been really interesting for me; I’ve struggled with the idea of how to tell my family’s stories – I’ve written plenty about it, but how to tell it in an engaging and accessible way… and I am beginning to realise how I can do that thanks to the discussions we’ve had in our little group.

So today:

  • the continuing story of a family’s war experience; we’ve heard about the young girl and her mother being evacuated from Birmingham, today we had the story of their return to their home and having evacuees billeted on them – two women and six children. It was not a happy story, but so interesting because it showed a completely different side to the experience, a side none of us had heard or read about before.
  • the story of two brothers from Yorkshire who left their families and the coal mines where they worked to join up to fight in the first world war. We followed one of them through his experiences and up to the point where he was sent home in 1919
  • the genealogical investigation and detective work to find out the name of an ancestor’s first (of three) husbands, with a glimpse into her past
  • the story of an ordinary girl, born in a pub in a small Suffolk village who ended up in a similar village in Surrey; her mother died when she was only six, leaving her father to look after the girl, her sister and baby brother. The family had already moved to London and her father remarried and had three more children. The ordinary woman married a man who was her husband for fifty-two years, her poor father died in a workhouse.
  • the story of Concorde through the memories of a young teacher who saw it from its test flights to its scheduled flights, to reading news of the crash in Singapore caused by a burst tyre.

What struck me as we shared our stories which were all excellent, full of subtlety, facts woven with scraps of imagination, how much more confident they are and how they seem to have a real enthusiasm for writing their families stories creatively. Well done group!!



  1. Genealogy Executive

    Ah, I used to belong to a writing group like that! Totally diverse, with writers of all stripes and levels; luncheon afterwards (some only showed for the luncheon and never wrote, but shared their stories orally). Tears were always shed regardless–the stories always resonated, no matter the skills of the writer. It was a lovely experience! I’d love to build a tribe like that again one day, sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

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