Ways to learn about our ancestors
Creating a biography
In the following article, Susan creates a biographical sketch of Mary Smith Phelps, her husband’s grandmother. Mary was someone that neither Susan nor her husband ever met. Incidentally, Mary was sister to my great, great grandfather Alfred Josiah Smith and aunt to our malevolent matriarch.
By piecing together what we do have, we are able to learn about someone’s character, as Susan writes.
Note how Susan learns about Mary through wedding announcements, photos, and her obit, for example, and how she used these to discover various aspects (stamina, love, principles and faith, her love of being a mother) that define Mary’s character. (Photo credit right, Donna Fetzer.)
Similar to but different than a timeline, a biographical sketch brings depth to and helps create a story about an ancestor that perhaps, before it was created, we knew little about.
This may, in fact, be a bit easier to create than a timeline which is heavily date, event, location, source, and facts-and-figures oriented.
If you’ve created an interpretive, biographical sketch of an ancestor that would be a great example to share, please let me know.