A few weeks ago I read an enthusiastic review of You Can Write Your Family History by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books, 2003) on the blog, Currach. I picked it up from the public library, and was impressed with the clarity and detail of her guidance for the novice writer. When I’m ready to write, I’ll definitely return to it. (Though another blogger recently advised readers to “write as they go.” That’s advice I should probably take to heart.)
One notable feature of Carmack’s book is the wonderful taxonomy of genealogy types she presents: “The Seven Genres of Genealogical and Family History Writing.” Like you, I love a good taxonomy no matter the subject, and Carmack’s is a useful tool for evaluating resources and for thinking ahead to writing.
- Reference Genealogies: Purely about names, dates, places, fully documented.
- Genealogical Narrative: Like above, with some biographical details.
- Life Story Writing: Biographies, memoirs, autobiographies.
- Family History Narratives: Documented, multi-generational stories.
- Family History Memoir: The story of the author’s own genealogical inquiry.
- Edited Letters and Diaries
- Fictional Family Sagas Based on Truth
I think I’ve worked with examples of all those genres now, except maybe the first type. Even the most concise genealogical record I’ve read has some biographical material included.
I suppose personal blogs are very much part of genre 5, family history memoir. I’m documenting my experience of the genealogical research process, hoping to make connections with the like-minded.