Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Preserving Family Legends for Future Generations'

As someone who is increasingly intrigued by their own family ancestry, I have recently had the pleasure of discovering a book that takes a unique approach to genealogy and which I would recommend to anyone interested in the subject.

Preserving Family Legends for Future Generations (Roots & Branches, 2008), by Oklahoma author M. Carolyn Steele, approaches the subject of personal genealogy from the perspective of preserving family history by writing semi-fictionalized stories based on the best information the interested historian can obtain. Steele's personal preference is for short stories, but she also discusses novel-length stories and even provides an entire section on self-publishing, largely for the purpose of creating custom-made booklets suitable as gifts for interested relatives.

"My purpose is to encourage everyone, no matter their writing abilities, to preserve their family stories in an entertaining and readable format," Steele writes in her introduction to the book. "Relating a family legend brings the story to life for that instant, but writing it down preserves it forever."

While Preserving Family Legends for Future Generations is very encouraging and instructive, it is also frequently entertaining. Steele includes a number of samples of her own writing, for example, which relate stories about an ancestor who escaped an enemy firing squad during the Civil War and a somewhat risqué grandmother who was murdered by her fifth husband at the age of just 29!

I was very pleased and flattered, by the way, to learn that Steele's source material included my own Everyday Life During the Civil War. Just as she strives in her work to produce something worthy of sharing with others, I am always happy when I am able to accomplish the same thing in my own.

(Note: For anyone who wonders at the presence of a review of a genealogy book on this site, I have taken the liberty of allowing material related to spiritual journeys reside here, too. Beyond that, very little that interests me does not ultimately result in some sort of associated physical trip, so it is appropriate from that point of view as well.)

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