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09 January 2015

Narrative Project: An Introduction

Devon Noel Lee Family Historian
This is me, patiently working on their stories.
Last year, I knew big changes would take place so I called it my year of writing. I wanted to write down all the stories and research notes  that I have discovered in recent years. My fear was something bad would happen and all the stories would be locked in my head and my relatives would have to start over with their research. The worst part, was the stories I have learned would be lost.

Fear can be an amazing motivator.

In order to be organized in my approach, I decided to start with a parent and then work back through their lines. This approach would keep my branches separate and manageable. The ultimate goal would be to create something relatives can read and learn to love their ancestors as much as I have loved researching them. It's a big goal, but someone needs to do it.

For decades, I have known the names dates and places. Now, I wanted to focus on the heart of family history. What is the heart of family history? Stories are the heart and soul of family history. Who cares about some guy named Harry Brown of Columbus, Ohio born in 1916? Few people, that's who, until you share a story about him.

Sam and Harry Brown of Columbus Ohio in 1940s
Sam and Harry Brown around 1940. Location unknown.
Harry Brown was my mother's beloved uncle. He is fondly remembered by so many, especially someone who didn't know him really well, his niece Bethany. Bethany's father Samuel Brown had died when she was nearly 2 years-old. Bethany knew very little about Samuel's family in Ohio, as she lived in Louisiana. When Bethany was old enough to marry, her Uncle Harry Brown came to her wedding. Harry was 14 years younger than her father Sam and 14 years-old when Samuel moved south from Ohio. Harry came to the wedding so that if Bethany wanted him to stand in the place of her father Samuel, she had someone. Bethany had never met Harry until this moment but she was touched that he would be so thoughtful. Bethany used someone else to walk her down the aisle, but became very fond of the Uncle she 'never knew.'

Stories like these matter so much. These little details give weight to the dates on my charts. That is the focus of my project.

Over the coming year, I will share with you the process I followed to capture the stories. I will provide examples and things I learned through the process. The teacher's heart in my hopes you'll learn something from this series of posts that will be titled Narrative Project.

10 comments:

  1. So glad your going to discuss how your going to do this! For years I have been scribbling down stories I was told, stories I overheard, things that family members did.Writing whenever and wherever it has come to me.Most of the people are gone, often I am the only living person to know this stuff.I want it to be a part of my genealogy but not really sure how. Hope to get some ideas from you!

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    1. Glad to know this will be of help. As a head's up, I'll get to how we add stories we've heard in the middle of the year. I'm hoping my showing my step by step process in bite size monthly pieces, that any one, no matter their research level, can find ways to capture their stories (even if they don't know any stories to begin with).

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  2. I look forward to reading about your progress. Getting at least some stories out there is why I started my blog(s), but I haven't been blogging as much recently, which is why I'm trying the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge.

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    1. I hope this series will benefit you, though the pace of writing will only be monthly. Good luck with the 52 week challenge. I followed Jana Last's series last year, not always commenting. I was so proud of her completing the challenge. I now have another person to cheer for!

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  3. Devon, family stories are very important to make our ancestors 'live again'. Without them we just have lists of names and dates. Recording & sharing those tales is very important.

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  4. I'll be interested to follow this project.

    I, too am embarking on a project to pull it all together; but I'm taking a different approach inspired by Marlis Humphrey. Marlis is an advocate of publishing in a format that appeals to the generations that have grown up in the electronic age. So I'm adopting a two prong approach by creating short videos that will be supplemented by narrative. It is much easier to do the narrative, but I like the challenge of putting a video together.

    Good luck with your writing.

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    1. Mary,

      I love it! What a great project you will have. I am doing the old fashioned writing so that I have the foundation for scripts for more visual projects, just as videos. You're just doing them both at the same time. That's WONDERFUL! I hope you'll stop by often to let me know the status of your work.

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  5. Exciting goals. And inspired ones. I have a great fear that if I die before these stories get told, they will be forgotten. That's why, in my seminars, I encourage everyone to write. Even if you tell the story in one sentence. At least it will not be lost.

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for stopping by.

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