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The October 1, 2009 posting was entitled “A ‘To-Do’ List for Genealogists”.

This posting will discuss:

#3. Go for a consistent, readable writing style

There are many reasonable reasons for performing genealogy research, including family history, health determinations, place in history, cousin identifications and many others. I would guess the major reason, however, is to leave a written history of the family as best you have been able to determine. This would suggest that as you prepare the Notes section of your database on the family you should write in a consistent, readable fashion.

I could leave this subject at that – consistent and readable – and let the reader determine their own definitions. But as you might expect I will share some of my own thoughts. My thoughts here are derived from the use of Register Reports as the format of a book, and not from the use of other forms of writing such an historical biography or novel which some might employ.

First, it seems to me the writings should be in chronological order. We do not locate events in the life of an ancestor that way, but it seems best to present them in that manner. Sentences should be properly constructed with subject, verb and so forth. Further, the document should be spell checked and hopefully read, reread and then read by a fresh pair of eyes to locate errors.

Pictures of the person or the described event would help to garner attention to the writing. The addition of an historical event can help to place the person in time. For example, I say the following about someone in 1895: “He was born on his father’s farm about six miles from Madisonville, toward Manitou. It was a propitious year as seen in this record from the Hustler: By means of the wonderful long distance telephone, people in Madisonville can now talk with people at Hopkinsville, Nashville, Henderson, Evansville and intermediate points, and the conversation can be as distinctly understood as if the persons conversing were within a few feet of one another. The route will be extended to Louisville in the spring. [4 Jan 1895 Hustler]  His birth year was thusly celebrated.”

Taking this a step farther, it might help readability to write a preface to the Register Report which could address the derivation of the surname or describe the history of the town in which a family resided for several generations, or the company which employed several family members.

The point of course is that we are all a product of our family, our environment, our location and our times and future readers may need such a reminder or introduction to the history.

Some genealogy software products preface Notes with a heading such as “Notes About Jane Doe”. This seems distracting to me and I would use WORD to remove all occurrences of that heading. Other software may similarly distract and I would remove those distractions as well.

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