Friday, April 28, 2017

Writing a Profile: Joy and Tears Ahead

42 Dedham Ave, Providence, Providence, RI
Photo from the collection of Hannah Tucker Champlin Broadfoot, 1954
Inherited and privately held, by the author,
Writing a Profile
Joy and Tears Ahead

In my ongoing "Close to Home" series of blog posts, I have noticed that by using the Genealogy Go-Over Method (as defined by Thomas MacEntee), I am having a great deal of success researching the people that I knew who were alive in my lifetime. When the 1950 census is released, I hope I am still able to spend hours and hours investigating ancestors and relatives because I was nearly 3 years old when the census taker came to call. 

Most people want to write an ancestor profile because they want future generations to know the person above and beyond the vital records. Photographs of the people and places they lived play a strong role in that (when possible). I am convinced even more today, that blog posts need at least one screen shot or photo clip in order to be interesting and inviting to read.

Recently, a 1st cousin once removed, who lives in England, asked me to tell him where our mutual relative lived before he came to America. It turns out that the place is within driving distance for him and he has been there and noticed signs with the relative's family surname. Immediately, after sending him the location of the birth, I became re-engaged in the quest to know more about the relative in question.

Writing a profile is like making a photo collage. It blends photos, names, places and events into one and has to be carefully crafted to engage the reader. Although the writer must have all the facts and the proof behind them, the writing of the profile must be engaging to read and not necessarily sequential.

The more you remember about a person, it can be hard to write about because it becomes about you and your memories and not about the person who is the subject. Fortunately for me I have a whole surname book devoted to this one person and his family. I pulled it out from the wall of binders and drank my daily iced coffee while looking over what I knew. Then, I spent 4 days more of research using records at places like, Ellis Island and Find My Past. As I am a Find My Past Ambassador, I knew there would be records I had not looked at before that would make writing this worthwhile for my readers. 

I hope you will enjoy following along with me as I make this Profile Collage and learn, as I have, how spending hours on just one person can ease the heartache of losing them forever. Steps in research can be boring to write about, but as I am a life-long teacher, I need for others to learn how my adventures can help others follow the steps to find their own family.

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