Members of the writing group of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) believe it’s important to turn genealogy research into stories that can be shared.
The writing group is open to BIFHSGO members who are already writing about their family history and would like to exchange feedback with other writers. (For information about the writing group, contact BIFHSGO, attention Carol Annett.)
But you don’t have to join a writing group to turn genealogy findings into engaging stories. This resource page was created for anyone looking for tips on starting a writing project.
BIFHSGO Writing Group “Guide to writing stories about your family history"
Books we recommend from the Ottawa Branch library of Ontario Ancestors (Ontario Genealogical Society) in The City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive:
- Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, You Can Write your Family History. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2003. Dewey No. 808.06 CAR
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD, USA, 2009. Dewey No. 907.2 MIL
- William Jr. Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed. Dewey No. 808.042 STR
- William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, 30th Anniversary ed. Dewey No. 808.06 ZIN
Resources we recommend that are available on the BIFHSGO website, some in the Anglo-Celtic Roots: Archive:
- How to Tell a Compelling Family History Story, education talk by Ruth Stewart Verger, 10 April 2021, with handout on best practices, in Members' Area only
- “Anglo-Celtic Roots Guide to Authors.” British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Members' Area only, under Anglo-Celtic Roots.
- Charlotte Gray “Bringing Life to History and History to Life,” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 11 No 3 (Fall 2005): 65-70.
- Alison Hare, “Citations for Canadians for family history writers”
- Marnie McCall, “Copyright for Family History,” BIFHSGO 2017 Conference videos, available in Members' Area only
- The Writing Group, “Using Contemporary Novels for Background Material in Family History Writing.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol. 16 No. 4 (Fall 2010): 63-66. Betty Warburton, “On Writing a Family Story,” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 16 No 4 (Fall 2010): 60-61.
Stories from Anglo-Celtic Roots:
There are many family history stories published in BIFHSGO’s quarterly publication, Anglo-Celtic Roots, that can provide a source of inspiration for aspiring writers. You can browse past issues of ACR here and find the stories listed below that were award winners:
- BIFHSGO Members Awards, Best Anglo-Celtic Roots Article since 2000
- Award winners from BIFHSGO 20th Anniversary Writing Competition 2014:
Adrienne Stevenson. “Adventures of a Library.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 20 No 3 (Fall 2014): 16-25.
Carol Annett, “Picturing Knoydart Then and Now.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 20 No 3 (Fall 2014): 25-34.
Anne Renwick, “A Precious Legacy.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol. 20 No. 4 (Winter 2014): 26-35.
Brenda Turner, “Archie’s Rifles.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 21 No 1 (Spring 2015): 19-24.
Dena Palamedes, “The Rambler—Exodus from Savary.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 21 No 2 (Summer 2015):19-26.
Lynne Willoughby, “The McGirrs of Castlederg.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol. 21 No. 2 (Summer 2015): 27-37.
- Award winners from BIFHSGO 25th Anniversary Writing Competition 2019:
Claire Callender, “The Travels and Trials of Adam Logan, Dairyman.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 25 No 4 (Winter 2019): 3-15. Members' Area only
Irene Kellow Ip, “A Tale of Two Names.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 25 No 4 (Winter 2019): 16-26. Members' Area only
and the following resources in ACR issues available only in the Members' Area:
Lynda Gibson, “John and Grizzel’s Epic Adventure to the Land of Milk and Maple Syrup.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 26 No 1 (Spring 2020): 3-12. Members' Area only
Dianne Brydon, “Who’s Crazy? The Sad Tale of Mary Brydon and Mental Health in 19th Century Ontario.” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 26 No 1 (Spring 2020): 12-21. Members' area only
Bette Smith, “Emily Charts a New Course,” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 26 No 2 (Summer 2020): 3-13. Members' Area only
Carol Dillon, “My Father’s Trunk: The Beginning of a Genealogical Journey,” Anglo-Celtic Roots Vol 26 No 2 (Summer 2020): 13-23. Members' Area only
Links to other resources:
Nigro, Carmen. “20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History.” New York Public Library (Accessed on 18 May 2020).
Updated August 2021