The theme of #genchat last night, Friday, 18 January, was Challenges of Writing Family History with guest host Lynn Palermo. If you have never participated in a Friday-night Genchat, I recommend joining in! It’s a fun way to network with other genealogists. You can tune in by searching the hashtag #genchat at 10pm Eastern time on alternating Fridays and contribute to the conversation by adding the hashtag to your tweets.
Usually the evening unfolds with a series of questions posed around a topic. Last night was a little different. The questions guided the participants through writing a short story about an ancestor. The goal was to demonstrate a good way to approach writing the stories of our ancestors.
I liked it so much I wanted to share my responses with you so you can see how quickly my short but meaningful story came together! I have done just a little editing to enhance the original story. You can do it too! Just follow the prompts from the evening:
- Q1: Choose an ancestor you would like to write about. Why?
- Q2: Identify a goal or accomplishment your ancestor achieved.
- Q3: What obstacles did your ancestor have to overcome to achieve that goal?
- Q4: What motivated that goal? What was at stake if they didn’t achieve it?
- Q5: What underlying message can your family learn from this ancestor?
- Q6: What is life like for your ancestor after they achieve their goal?
Marilynn Ruth Bell (1924-2006)
My grandmother, Marilynn Ruth Bell attended college for two years, 1943-44, one year at Ohio State University and one year at Denison University. She was an only child raised by a single mother in Dayton, Ohio. Her father and grandparents all died by the time she was 10 years old. For most of her life Marilynn must have seen how hard her mother worked to manage the household without a husband. I’m sure she wanted to attend college so she could be independent as well.
After completing two years of college, Marilynn went on to work as a transcriber for the National Cash Register Company and later as a stenographer at an advertising agency before she met and married my grandfather, Milton H. Anderson, when she was 26. Even for a short time, she was able to follow through on attending college and supporting herself, despite facing obstacles in her life. My grandmother quickly went from working to raising family when she married in 1950. After a lifetime of having very little family living nearby to rely on, she suddenly joined a family that was large by comparison and soon added three children of her own.
If you write a story about one of your ancestors using the prompts from Genchat, please share a link in the comments or tag me on Twitter so I can see what you came up with!