Family history: Storytelling with a theme or topic

Choosing a subject or topic to tell a story

Day-to-day aspects of life 100 years ago or more

When trying to capture what life was like 100+ years ago, it is difficult to know a person’s personality or character from a photo. While photos may not reveal an ancestor’s personality, we can come away with a sense of what life was like when we look at every-day aspects of how they lived.

If we can determine what they are, various aspects of daily living can become the story.

Take a look at transportation. Susan shows us how various forms of transportation were used by the Smith, Phelps, and Seeber families.

Transportation and what it may reveal

On January 16, 1902, my great, great grandfather J.A. “Si” Smith began working for the Soo Railroad company. His son-in-law’s tiny diary shows the dates. What I don’t know is the method of transportation Si used when he traveled to Minneapolis.


Diary of Elmer Butterfield, my great grandfather

If I can determine how Si traveled from one place to the other, it can certainly add depth to his story. His wife Helen Eliza White Smith died the year he moved to Minneapolis. What do you know about how your ancestors traveled? What does it tell you about their lives?

What other topics or themes can you use to flesh out a story?

Happy profiling! ❤

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