National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) and Family History

Last year I found out that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and thought it would be a great idea for someone who is trying to write their family history stories.

The idea behind NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch in a month’s time. Writing a novel is not something many of us are looking to do at the moment but writing family history stories is something that we want to accomplish.

NaNoWriMo could be the impetus we need to get started writing those stories. The idea of writing 50,000 words might be a little daunting but you could make that number 10,000 words. You could start writing your outlines and ideas down now so that you have a starting point for the first of November.

I am working on a local history project that would fit in beautifully with this idea. So that is going to be my focus for the month of November. I am going to write my local history project and get a rough draft done by the end of the month. The idea is not to have a book completed and ready for publishing by the end of the month it is to get the project started.

Writing your family history stories is a great way to find any gaps in your research. You think you have it all done and when you go to write it up you realize that there is some missing information.

I am putting a challenge out there to everyone who wants to write their family history. Use the month of November and NaNoWriMo to get you started. Let me know how you are getting along with the project. I will post updates on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page to let you know how I am getting along.

Now let’s get writing!

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Future of Handwriting

CBS Sunday Morning had a piece on September 18th called “Is penmanship being written off? “ It was a repeat of a piece that was first broadcast 23 January 2011 called “A Farewell to Handwriting?

It examines the history of handwriting and looks at graphology which I wrote about in a previous post.

Today’s technology could mean that future generations are probably not going to have the ephemera of past generations. How many of us actually print off emails and other correspondence? Even if it is printed off how long can it last before it starts to fade? Will future generations have the excitement of finding a letter written by an ancestor 200 years before they were born?

The written word has changed so much since the introduction of the printing press. Is there going to be a time when we won’t even need to know how to write with pen and paper?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The Lost Art of Penmanship

This week on CBS Sunday Morning there was a segment about penmanship and how the art of handwriting could be lost. While it is a poignant thought there is far more at stake. The onset typewriters and then computers have changed how we communicate by the written word. Two hundred years ago, even with the printing press, the first draft of any written item was by hand.

Will the great grandchildren of the mid 21st century have letters and diaries handwritten by their ancestors? Will they have letters or diaries at all? How many of you print off your emails to save for future generations? It is just not feasible to do and emails these days are small bites of information. People rarely sit down and write a long letter to family that stayed behind when they emigrated. It is easier and less expensive to send an email, telephone or Skype. People are blogging but will the thoughts, sentiment and information in those blogs be available to our ancestors?

I remember in school learning to write and having difficulty writing the capital letters F and J. When we graduated from printing to writing, and could write clearly, we got a BIC pen. That pen was the most coveted item in my grade 4 class. Everyone wanted to move from the pencil to the pen, it was a status symbol.

I remember the excitement of finding a letter written by my 2x Great Grandmother to her soon to be husband in the early 1900s. It is a simple letter saying thank you for a box of chocolates and not being able to meet the next day because of a previous engagement. This is the type of thing that we would send an email or call someone about today. Since there were no computers in the early 1900s I have that letter in the handwriting of my 2x Great Grandmother. There is cookbook written in the hand of my 3x Great Grandmother with little notations and thoughts in the margin. These are items that the future generations will probably not be getting from this generation. They will not get the thrill of finding something in our handwriting.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research