Sunday, September 25, 2005

Opinions Wanted!

Photo taken from "The Shipleys of Maryland 2002"

I haven't yet decided on the style in which I wish to produce my Family History book intended as a gift to my children and siblings, but yesterday I began writing.

There is a lot I have to work with, including (in most cases) names, birth and death dates, census data such as occupation, marriage information, and photos. In more recent family history I have some interesting stories and anecdotes.

I began writing with my early Shipley family, and it looked much like this:

"In my two year family search, the earliest of our documented Shipley family is Adam Shipley, born about 1650 in Yorkshire, England.

Adam was transported to America, along with nine other young men, by John Pawson (also of Yorke, England) in 1668. These men were to serve an apprenticeship for a period of time before receiving their fifty acres of land, which Adam earned by 1675."

Although historically correct, this reads much like the oh so boring history books which were required reading in school, where one was going to be tested on names and dates rather than content.

Now I could go off the deep end, and write something like this:

"Young Adam, with icy saltwater sheeting down his face finally espied the new land, the new life for which he'd been searching- America!"

I'm now toying with the idea of using snippets of family lore, told to me by my mother and linking these tales to the information I've found:

"... when my mother told me about an ancestor who sold himself into slavery. She explained he likely couldn't afford the passage to America, and had contracted his services for a period of time becoming an indentured servant.

This man was Adam Shipley of Yorkeshire, England, who arrived in America in 1668..."

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about a published book here, just a family memento.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. You're such a creative group, I'd love to get your feedback.

Update! I'm now looking at Cafepress. The upside is a 100 page book (with a choice of bindings) can be printed for about $10.00 per book. The downside is that there is a whole world of publishing formatting I need to study before I begin. To think I thought writing this would be the difficult part!


Blogger SoozieQ said...

As a person who HATES History (I took my college history course during the summer session because I KNEW the curriculum would be bad is that?!?), I vote for the more "creative" writing approach.

Like you said, it's not for publication so as long as the facts are as accurate as you've been able to determine, then why not spice it up a bit with the family lore? Because in all honesty, whether it's from a book or your Mother, it is technically part of your family history now that she's told those stories! 100% accurate or not ;-)

I think this type of family momento will be treasured for the time and energy you put into digging up all the facts, as well as the humor and creative side you will be adding. You will be leaving a bit of yourself in this Family History Book, as I do think you're quite witty and funny.

Again, just my opinion and you can take it for what it's worth (not much) :-)

1:28 PM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

I'm liking the Mom's stories and how they relate to the truth idea as well.
All of Mom's tales have proven true except for a couple I haven't been quite able to verify yet.
Thanks for your well thought out response!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Romani Heart said...

I like the historical approach myself, but that's because I do so much digging that I want everything I find to be fact. It depends on your purpose. What do you want it to be? Entertaining or a resouce for future generations? There's no wrong choice.

By the way, one of my family lines, the Deadmans (how's that for a creepy sir name) came over from England at about the same time. My Deadman had been imprisoned in London before being stuck on a ship for the colonies. I'd LOVE to find out what he was in prison for. My relatives act embarrassed over the "dirt", I think it's cool lol.

2:09 PM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

romani heart-
I totally know what you mean! I feel like I must include the dates and other facts over which I've labored so hard, but it makes pretty dull reading.
I'm thinking about perhaps using family tree segments at the end of each chapter, showing these facts.
Your Deadman family sounds totally worth checking on! I love that kind of tale.
My mother also told us we descended from one of two sons of an English Lord who was sent to America (for some misdeed or another,) and I'm thinking this was Adam (mentioned on the blog.)
I loves me some bad boyz!!!

2:23 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

If you can pull off a Tolkien version of your family history, I think that would stick with the younger generations a heck of a lot better than a dry historical recollection of facts. Lessons learned, the trials they faced, it all soaks in better when told from the heart. Start out with a good timeline and some maps of where these folks have come from and where they ended up.

It makes the world a lot smaller for the kids :).

4:02 PM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

Great points!
I also thought maps would make a more visual statement.
Thanks for your ideas!

4:11 PM  
Blogger cheesecakey said...

I also like using the snippets from mom... I am a history buff (medieval though) so I find it all interesting and I think the 'dirt' will spice it up along with the maps.

4:23 PM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

Oh, I love medieval history!
I agree that any dirt, or possible dirt would be just the thing to jazz it up.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

I love the third option too, comparing your mom's stories to your research. And the maps and other photos too. I'm into charts and graphs too, but that might not be something you're interested in. And it's interesting that your family started out that way. One of my great aunts has done a lot of research into one branch of our family and it started pretty much the same way. I think a lot of people could read the story of your family and be able to relate.

5:45 AM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

rae ann-
I'm normally not into charts and graphs, but had some good ones which showed migration (by family surname) as well as occupation.
What I've loved about this research is receiving emails from people who descended from the brother of my GGG Grandmother (for example.)

I'm so appreciating everyone's opinions and advice!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Squirl said...

I'm a little late getting into this discussion. Things have been crazy around here.

I just love the idea of putting your mom's tidbits in with it. Hisory of any kind comes alive when there's a story involved. It's also easier to remember.

You'll want to get all the names and dates in there, too. Not only did you work hard to find that, but it will be more help to anyone else in your family who is interested in the realy history.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Oh the family lore, with the my mom told me, is something I would love reading. Just my two cents.

8:40 AM  
Blogger SierraBella said...

I'm really liking the idea of using my mother's stories along with maps, and perhaps a page at the end of each chapter with names, birth and death dates and census info. (The more boring data.)

The oral tradition of family history is so important!
I know several families who have videotaped family elders talking about their memories and history, such a great idea!

12:20 PM  

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