Guide to Writing Your Personal and Family History

Guide to Writing Family HistoryBy Barry J. Ewell

Conduct oral interviews to uncover important clues and forge relationships that will dramatically speed research. Learn the easy to follow steps in writing, researching, and publishing your personal and family history. Over 1,000 questions across 95 topics organized so you can easily begin a conversation and explore a topic.

  • Price $3.99
  • Pages: 294 pp.
  • Published: 2016

Shop at Barry’s Store

In writing this book, I made a few assumptions about who would benefit.  This book is for you if,

  • You have an interest in writing a personal history
  • You have one or more personal experiences that you would like to write and/or record
  • You have a story to write but are not sure about begin
  • You have member of your family whose story you want to record and/or write
  • You want to research and organize a family history that spans several generations
  • You want to conduct oral interviews but don’t know where to begin
  • You need help in knowing the questions to ask

This book was not meant for you to read from start to finish. Each section is designed to stand alone. There are few dependencies you should know about.

Section 1 is divided into two chapters. Chapter 1 defines the oral interview and the impotence of planning, researching, and carefully stitching the memories and artifacts into a cohesive blend of resources to tell the story that will inspire generations to come. Chapter 2 provides the support you need to put it all together to write and publish your story.

Section 2 provides over 1,000 questions across 95 topics. The questions for each topic are organized so you can easily begin a conversation and explore a topic from as many angles as you desire. Even the more complex issues of death, divorce, and war can be addressed with sensitive and respect. You will be able to easily review each topic and determine whether you want to address the question in an interview or the history/story you are writing


Section 1: Interviewing, Writing, and Publishing

Chapter 1: Defining the Oral Interview

  • Introduction
  • What I Learned in the First Ten Interviews
  • Every Life is a Story
  • Five Questions We All Ask About Writing Family Histories
  • What are Oral Interviews?
  • Involved Family and Friends
  • Who to Interview: Organize a Family Friends and Acquaintances List
  • Oral Interview Considerations
  • Preparing for the Telephone Interview
  • Setting Up the interview
  • Preparing for the Interview
  • Conducting the Interview
  • After the Interview
  • Taking Care of the Recorded Interview
  • Personal History Documentation

Chapter 2: Write and Publish Your Story

  • A Story Worth Writing Begins with an Outline
  • Overview of Writing the Personal History
  • Writing the Personal History—Draft One
  • Need More Help with the Outline or Story? Try the Mapping Technique
  • Revising the First Draft
  • Personal History Structure
  • Support Your Claims
  • Including Artifacts, Photos, and Images
  • Other Elements to Include in Your Personal History
  • How to Organize the Sections of Your History
  • Publishing Your History
  • Sharing Your History

Section 2: Questions for a Lifetime

Chapter 3: Story Themes and Ideas for Writing Your History

Chapter 4: 150 Questions to Ask Family Members about their Lives

Chapter 5: Education Questions

  • Preschool
  • Kindergarten
  • Elementary School
  • Jr. High School
  • High School
  • High School Reunion
  • Trade School
  • College/University
  • Advance Degree
  • Later in Life

Chapter 6: Entertainment and Culture Questions

  • Youth
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult
  • Recreation

Chapter 7: Family Other Questions

  • Ancestry
  • Death of Person You are Writing About
  • Hometown
  • Immigration
  • Looking Over a Lifetime
  • Medical History
  • Personality and Values
  • Religion

Chapter 8: Family Relationships Questions

  • Birth & Adoption of Children
  • Single Child
  • Family
  • Twins
  • Triplets
  • Step Brothers and Sisters
  • Half Brothers and Sisters
  • Adopted
  • Living with Family
  • Divorced Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Pets

Chapter 9: Family Traditions Questions

  • Childhood
  • Teenager
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult

Chapter 10: Friendship Questions

  • Childhood
  • Teenager
  • Dating and Relationships
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult

Chapter 11: Historical Events Questions

  • Starter Questions for Historical Events
  • Natural Disasters
  • Discrimination and Issues of Race
  • Foreign Events

Chapter 12: Legal Matters

  • Youth
  • Adult

Chapter 13: Marriage Questions

  • Married
  • Not Married
  • Additional Marriages
  • Divorce

Chapter 14: Moving Questions

  • Childhood
  • Teenager
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult

Chapter 15: Occupation Questions

  • Child
  • Teenager
  • Adult
  • Stay at Home Parent
  • Working Parent
  • Own Business
  • Retired
  • Did Not Retire
  • Changed Jobs as Adult

Chapter 16: Personal Finances Questions

  • Child
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult

Chapter 17: Personal Characteristics Questions

  • Teenager
  • Adult
  • Sr. Adult
  • Chapter 18: Raising A Family Questions
  • Had Children
  • Did Not Have Children

Chapter 19: War Questions

  • WW I—Joined Military
  • WW I—Stayed Home
  • WW II—Joined Military
  • WW II—Stayed Home
  • Korean War—Joined Military
  • Korean War—Stayed Home
  • Vietnam War—Joined Military
  • Vietnam War—Stayed Home
  • Post-Vietnam War Years—Joined Military
  • Post-Vietnam War Years—Stayed