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Writing Your Family History (ePub)

Family History

By Gill Blanchard
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
File Size: 39.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781473841185
Published: 29th September 2014


£4.99 Print price £12.99

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Family History river cruise

In September 2019, author Gill Blanchard will host the first Family History River Cruise in association with Family Tree magazine. Throughout the cruise, Gill will host several sessions and interactive activities on topics including essential records, information about DNA testing, how to use online resources, visiting archives and your next steps! Find out more via www.family-tree.co.uk

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Gill Blanchard's practical step-by-step guide to writing a family history is designed for anyone who wants to bring their ancestors' stories to life. She looks at ways of overcoming the particular problems family historians face when writing a family history -- how to deal with gaps in knowledge, how to describe generations of people who did the same jobs or lived in the same area, how to cover the numerous births, marriages and deaths that occur, and when to stop researching and start writing.

Her book provides examples to help readers find their own writing style, deal with family stories, missing pieces of information and anomalies. It also offers advice on key aspects of composition, such as adding local and social history context and using secondary material. The focus throughout is on how to develop a story from beginning to end.

Exercises are a key feature of the text. There is guidance on the various formats a family history can take and how to choose the appropriate one, with examples of format and layout. Production and publishing are also covered -- books, booklets, newsletters, websites, blogs and ebooks.

Whether you are planning a full length book, an article for a family history magazine, a website or a blog, you will find this book really useful with tips, hints and warnings.

Glasgow and West of Scotland FHS

Author Q&A, Genealogist and house historian, as featured by

History Revealed

I was drawn to this book for two reasons: I, too, am a writer and I, too, have written family histories.

I wanted to read Blanchard’s creative process and understand her methods. I really connected with the author on thoughts over legacy, detail and corroboration, and agree with the suggestion of sharing family history with others.

Writing techniques like structuring families clearly using generational chapters, and devices like linking family members for the ease of the readers’ experience were handy tips to capture.

There’s an interesting section about dealing with potentially ‘horrible’ people and how to write them, particularly in terms of those ancestors whose attitudes to nationality are vastly different to our modern-day ones.

So comprehensive is this book that it even includes tips on publishing, formatting for print and e-publishing, creating a website for your finished book, blogging and a resource directory.

An excellent tool for a non-fiction writer’s bookshelf.

For the Love of Books

This book is a practical step-by-step guide to writing a family history and is for all those that want to bring that history to life. There are always problems when you decide to write history of any sort, and this is applicable to family history. Gill Blanchard tackles this with clarity, as she describes ways in which you can overcome these problems.

Click here to read the full review.

Reviewed by Paul Diggett via Amazon, Goodreads. Guardian Bookshop, Library Thing & Waterstones

The whole book offers a sensible and practical guide and would be helpful to those who have researched their families and now want to share and preserve their discoveries, to 'tell the story' as the author puts it. Its step-by-step approach sets out a clear path in print.

Federation of Family History Societies

This Pen and Sword Guide was first published in 2014 and this is the second reprint. It tries to give the answers to frequently asked questions about how to tell the story of your ancestors in an accessible and interesting manner. Once your research has gone as far as you can take it, then you might wish to share your story with others. As well as family members, give copies of your story to relevant Archives, Family History Societies or even the Society of Genealogists in London; you do not have to be a member to do this. The guide helps you to decide what kind of ancestral story it will be, with a step-by-step guide to developing a written family history giving examples, tips and exercises. Each chapter deals with different aspects of the task including when to stop researching: very important.There is also a directory of useful resources and a comprehensive index.

This is a well set-out, comprehensive and easy to follow guide.

Rotherham FHS

As featured in.

Family Tree June 2016

Gill Blanchard is an experienced family and local historian and author of many years standing who has produced a well-written and practical step by step guide to writing a family history.

Friends of the National Archives

A very readable and practical guide which will assist family historians to turn their research into a good story to preserve and share.

Essex Society for Family History

This book provides knowledge in a very readable style and format. This makes it a first class starting point for novice researchers and writers.


A handy step-by step guide to the various aspects of writing and publication.

Your Family Tree

As seen in Suffolk and Norfolk Life Magazine.

Suffolk and Norfolk Life Magazine

The great strength of this book is that it's not only practical but encouraging. It is not just concerned with telling you how to write and publish your book. Gill also wants to help you produce the best book possible. And whichever route you chose to take, if you really want to see your family history in print - hard copy or digital - all you need is this and you're away.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

If you're toying with the idea of writing a family history-themed book, whether it be for general publication or simply for family members, read this first and then take the plunge. Who knows, it could be a bestseller!

Family Tree Magazine

What really comes through is Gill's enthusiasm and passion, both for family history and writing. And that makes for an inspirational and very useful book. This is not a highbrow academic piece; it's a down to Earth, practical guide for you and I.
It is quite literally packed with valuable tips and exercises and is almost a mini-course in writing your family history.
Gill is not content to simply to tell you about writing your family history, she wants you to pick up your pen or pencil and start writing.

Bedfordshire Family History Society
 Gill Blanchard

About Gill Blanchard

Gill Blanchard, BA. MA, PGCE (PCE) has been a local historian, genealogist and house historian since 1997 and previously worked in a local record office for six years. She is the author of several books, including Tracing Your Ancestors: Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, Writing Your Family History and Tracing Your House History. She also writes regularly for national genealogy magazines and is a full member of AGRA – the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. 

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