When to Start Writing

Quick reminder: you are going to die.

I forget that fact myself sometimes, thinking I have all the time in the world to do what I want to do. But I don’t. That bleak reminder has a follow-up truth for every genealogist: if we don’t record our work in some presentable format that can be distributed to others, all of our research is moot, nothing more than a temporary pastime.

Some of us depend entirely on websites like Ancestry to record our family trees, sometimes accompanied by a few vital records and censuses. Posting online is surely a form of publication, but the data presented there is more abstract than meaningful family history.

NGS members are generally a bit more sophisticated. We recognize that family trees are a far cry from family history. We recognize the value of adding details, context, and color to give us a sense of who our ancestors actually were. We recognize the need to coalesce disjointed points of data into a cohesive narrative. We recognize the need to actually write.

Only NGS members have access to full articles of NGS Monthly. Please log in or click here to learn more about joining the National Genealogical Society.

If you have trouble logging on or accessing the articles, please contact [email protected]

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