Confessional accounts are popular today. Memoirs seem to compete to tell the most secrets. A Martian reading these books would think all American families are full of abuse, alcoholism, and conflict. Accordingly, some biographers expose every failing of a subject to the neglect of its virtues. These books offer solace to those readers who have… Continue reading Ethics in Writing Lives
In many families someone doesn’t quite fit the mold. After meeting my mother, a colleague asked, “What milk man brought you to the house?” He captured what I had always felt, that I was the family oddball, the outlier. Many children feel that at one time or another, but I had only to look in… Continue reading Outliers: Family History May Explain Why You’re the Oddball
I am preoccupied with the final editing of Gypsy and the Bird Man, a cultural family history. I wrote about my mother’s fund raisers and realized my memory lacked specifics. Then I remembered an online source that might help: http://www.Newspapers.com. Over the decades my least favorite part of research has been finding news articles. First… Continue reading Secondary Sources: Newspapers Online
Going to an archive or special collection? Learn the common practices.
This is a guest blog from Attorney Helen Sedwick, who addresses legal implications of the materials writers often use. When working with an established publisher, its lawyers will vet your work, but it is still wise to know these points ahead of time. Self-publishers are more vulnerable and need to keep informed to avoid legal… Continue reading Letters, Photographs, and Names: Legal Issues
Most of the writers in my critique group do contemporary fiction. We have joked how Google Earth makes it possible to “travel” to immerse oneself in the geography of a place. For those writing about earlier times, maps can fill in. During the 1800s pictorial maps were popular as a way of advertising places for… Continue reading Pictorial Maps
Photographs are a Primary Source: evidence taken at the time of an event. They are wonderful for raising questions to provoke further research. But one has to be careful not to jump to conclusions. This photo is of my paternal ancestry, descendants of the Lisys who came over from Bohemia right after the Civil War.… Continue reading Photographs: Truth and Deception