Family history is fundamentally about the stories of your ancestors. In his talk as part of the annual Family History Feast, Philip Theil, Coordinator of the Discovery Centre at Museum Victoria encouraged genealogists to make their family’s story more than just a list of names and dates in government records. By focusing on the words and not just the dates, he explained how genealogy can come to life.

When it comes to writing your family history, Philip suggested that you consider a range of genres beyond the traditional history such as a memoir, travel writing centred around your ancestors’ home town or even a collection of recipes! Choosing a different approach may help you include the voices and experience of people who are historically from the margins of history: women, children, the disabled and minority ethnic groups.

You can use information about the past to describe a person, even an elusive ancestor for whom you may have very few dates and other details. In this way, Philip challenged you to embrace the mystery in your family history.  You may obtain this information from organisations such as Museum Victoria which has wonderfully diverse collections. The Museum’s collections include History and Technology Collections Online and it also makes other interesting resources available such as The Biggest Family Album in Australia and information sheets about post World War 2 migrant ships.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Thanks for this report, Chris. I really enjoyed presenting at the Feast, and especially liked meeting keen family historians from across Victoria.

    Overall it was a fantastic event. Warm thanks to everyone involved.

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