Whittier Area Genealogical Society
Whittier Area Genealogical Society
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May 16, 2021 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for June 2021
The WAGS Life Story Writing Group will have a zoom meeting on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9th from 1 – 3 pm (PT).  Current Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, email newcomerok@charter.net and you’ll be added.  Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
Here are our prompts for June:
 
  1. Focus on an ancestor’s hometown and research what it was like during their lifetime.  Use historical photos, city directories, gazetteers, county, state, or country history books, Google Earth (to see it real time), and Wikipedia for historical timelines to learn as much as you can about their place of origin.  Check local and world events during your ancestor’s early life and incorporate them into your writing. 
 
  1. Every picture tells a story.  What story does your picture tell?  Choose a photograph from a previous generation and answer the following questions:  What is the format?  (daguerreotype, tintype, cartes de visite, etc.)  Describe the clothing and hairstyles to help determine the time period.  Where was the photograph taken?  (photo studio, outdoor setting, etc.)  Describe what is happening in the photograph.  (wedding, family gathering, military, etc.)  What is the “provenance” of the photograph?  How did it come to be in your possession?  Which branch of your family is represented in the photograph?  And, finally, who is in the photograph and how are they related to you?
 
  1. Create a family timeline that begins with an immigrant ancestor and then trace how and where their descendants have spread out over the years.  In other words, how did your family get from point A (immigrant ancestor) to point B (you)?  Include a map to show the migration patterns that correspond with the timeline.  How far has your family spread over the years?
 
If none of these prompts are of interest, as always, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
April 22, 2021 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for May 2021
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on Wednesday, May 12th from 1 – 3 p.m. on Zoom.  Current Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the Zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, email newcomerok@charter.net and you will be added.  Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
Here are our prompts for May:
 
  • Mother’s Day is May 9th – Write a story, memory, or short chronicle of the life of your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, or wife.  Include photos, mementos, or other documents to highlight the incredible women in your life.
 
  • Memorial Day is May 31st – Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the United States Military.  It was originally called Decoration Day to honor those who fell during the Civil War.  Write a story about an ancestor who gave the ultimate sacrifice to his or her country.
 
If neither of these prompts are of interest, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
March 20, 2021 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for April 2021
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on Wednesday, April 14th from 1 – 3 p.m. on Zoom.  Current Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the Zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, email  newcomerok@charter.net and you will be added.   Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion. 
 
Here are our prompts for April:
  • Occupations – Blacksmith, Railroad worker, Chef, Logger, Farmer, Carpenter, Doctor, Musician, Photographer, etc.
  • What occupations did your ancestors have? 
  • What do you know about those occupations? 
  • What did that occupation “look” like?
  • What tools or training were needed for these occupations? 
  • Were there multi-generational occupations in your family tree?
 
Tell their story using census records, city directories, or other vital records and illustrate it with images from old photographs, Google I mages, Library of Congress digital collection, etc. 
  •  Marriage
  • Who had the longest marriage in your family tree?
  • Why do you think it lasted so long?
  • Who had the shortest and why?
  • Who had the most marriages?
  • Are there “spinsters” or “confirmed bachelors” in your family tree?
  • Did someone in your tree elope against family wishes?
  • Any first cousin marriages? 
                    Dig into those records and see what you can find.
 
If neither of these prompts are of interest, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
 
 
February 23, 2021 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for March 2021
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10th from 1 – 3 p.m. on zoom.  Current Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, email newcomerok@charter.net and you will be added.  Join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
The March prompts are:
 
  1. Award season has come around, so why not write your own award script about your ancestors and recognize them for the various accomplishments in their lives.  Here are a few award categories to consider (but, feel free to create as many as you like):  Founding Father/Mother Award; True Grit Award; Wounded Warrior Medal; Most Dramatic Demise Award; Marital Bliss Prize; Black Sheep of the Family Trophy; Surname Permutation Prize; Best Maiden Name Ribbon; Longest Name Medal; Independent Spirit Trophy; Notorious Kinfolk Cup; and Brick Wall Statuette for Most Frustrating Ancestor.  Write a short paragraph about each recipient.
 
  1. This ancestor challenge was suggested by Lisa Alzo.  Collect as much of the following information about an ancestor as you can, and write up your findings in story form.
 
  1. Full name, birth and/or death dates; location, weather, time of day
  2. List all the places this person resided over their lifetime
  3. Education, occupation, military service, marriage, divorce
  4. Did this person do something news worthy?  Have a special talent?
 
The idea of this exercise is to turn dry facts into an interesting short story about an ancestor’s life experiences.
 
If neither of these prompts are of interest, as always, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
January 26, 2021 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for February 2021
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10th from 1 – 3 p.m. on Zoom.  Current Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the Zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, email newcomerok@charter.net and you will be added.   Join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
Our February prompts are:
  • Who was the first person you researched? Why did you choose this individual? How do they fit into your family tree?
  • What was your first major discovery in your genealogical wanderings? Were you surprised by your findings or did the discovery confirm your suspicions?
  • What was the first mystery that you solved?  What sleuthing techniques did you employ?  Describe the path you followed.
  • Who was your founding father/mother, earliest known arrival to America, or indigenous ancestor?  Describe what they endured in those early years.
  • Which of your ancestral mothers birthed the most children?  By how many husbands?  How many of her children survived to adulthood?
  • Who has been your most difficult ancestor to track?  Why?  What will be the next steps in your quest to locate this elusive predecessor?
If none of these prompts are of interest, as always, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.

December 31, 2020 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for January 2021
The Life Story Writing Group will meet via zoom on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13th from 1 - 3 p.m.  Current members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the zoom link information.  Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
Here are our prompts for January:
  • Who was the oldest relative you got to meet in your lifetime?  How old were they?  How old were you?  Relate your memories about this person and their relationship to you
  • Weird family traits - we all have them!   Are you double-jointed, or can you wiggle your ears?  Perfect pitch?  Tone deaf?  Whistle like a songbird?  Who in your family shares these or other special traits? 
  • Write about a family resemblance.  Do you have your mother's feet?  Who has your father's eyes?  Large hands?  Freckles?  What about hair color, baldness or curl?  Describe these family traits and who inherited what from whom!
If none of these prompts are of interest, as always, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
 
See you on January 13th on zoom!
November 22, 2020 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for December 2020
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on Wednesday, December 9th from 1 – 3 p.m. on Zoom.  Current Writerss Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the Zoom link information.  If you are not curently on the mailing list, email newcomerok@charter.net and you will be added.  Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
Here are our prompts for December:
  • Did you grow up with family traditions, especially around the holidays?  What is the history behind those traditions?  Do you still practice any family traditions presently?  Have you created any new traditions that will be passed down to the younger generations? 
  • Every once in a while you see an article or social media post acknowledging a “first.”  Thinking about this type of recognition, did you or an ancestor have a “first” in your/their life?  It might be a huge, award-winning accomplishment or simply something recognized within the family, like the first person to graduate from college in your family, or your first ancestor to become an American citizen.  It could also be the first person in your family tree to travel abroad, to have twins, or the first person to appear on stage or television.  Categories can include (but are not limited to): Education, Transportation, Occupation, Homeownership, Military, Travel, etc.  Write about one of these stories.
  • December is full of holidays and remembrances that can be written about: 
    • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)
    •  Hanukkah (December 10-18)
    • Winter Solstice (December 21)
    • Christmas (December 25)
    • Boxing Day (December 26)
    • Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)
    • New Year’s Eve (December 31).
If none of these prompts are of interest, as always, feel free to write about any topic that interests you.
 
See you on December 9th on Zoom!
November 7, 2020 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for November 2020
 
The Life Story Writing Group will meet on November 11th from 1 - 3 p.m. on zoom. 
Please join us for friendly sharing and discussion.
 
Here are the November Prompts:
 
  • Describe how you solved a genealogical mystery or brick wall by using reverse genealogy.  Show your steps as you trae back a few generations and then come forward following each sibling and cousin until you solve your puzzle.  Begin by listing:  WHO you are searching for?  WHAT do you want to know?  WHAT do you already know?  And, WHAT steps do you need to take next to find your answers?
  • Were you in the military?  In which branch did you serve?  What motivated you to join?  What was basic training like?  What was the most difficult/rewarding part of being in the military?  Did you serve in a war zone?  What lessons did your service experience teach you about yourself?  Describe your transition from military to civilian life.  If you personally were NOT in the military, but someone in your family was, interview/research them and try to answer as many of the above questions as you can.
If neither of these prompts are of interest, feel free to write about any topice that interests you.
 
See you on November 11th on Zoom.
September 27, 2020 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for October 2020
File:Hello my name is sticker.svgThe Life Story Writing Group will meet via  Zoom on Wednesday, October  14th from 1—3 p.m.  Writers Group members will receive an email prior to the meeting with the Zoom link information.  If you are not currently on the mailing list, send an email to newcomerok@charter.net, and you will be added.
 
The prompts this time have the same focus:  NAMES
  • Write a story about one of your surname origins.  Does your genealogical research agree or conflict with what you know or believe about your ancestor’s homeland?  If things do not seem to align, highlight the puzzle and try to piece together a plausible reason for the discrepancy.  If your surname seems to fit nicely into your research, follow the family name as it winds its way from the past to the present.  Were there any changes in spelling along the way?
  • Are there any naming traditions in your family tree?  Write a story of how and/or where that tradition may have started.  Or, write a story about one of your ancestors with a traditional family name.  Were there a number of people in your family tree with the same name, handed down generation to generation?  Did they use nicknames to avoid confusion?  Extra credit:  Did you bestow nicknames on your grandparents? Children? Siblings?
As always, these prompts are suggestions to give you ideas for what to write about.  You can share your writing on any topic you choose in the meetings.
 
August 22, 2020 By: Kristina Newcomer
Writing Suggestions for September 2020

Hello everyone,

 

I hope you are staying well and doing your best to keep cool during our heat wave. 

 

The Life Story Writing Group will meet via Zoom on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th from 1 – 3 PM.  You will receive an email prior to our meeting with the Zoom link information.

 

Here are two prompts you can use:

 
What is the wackiest or most interesting story you have heard passed down in your family or discovered through your research?  Is there a family tale about a famous or infamous relative on a branch of your tree?  Were you able to prove or disprove the family story to your satisfaction?  How did the rest of the family react to your discovery?
Select a family heirloom (watch, quilt, medal,  Bible, etc.) and write a narrative story from the perspective of the item.  Where has it traveled?  Was it homemade?  A gift? An award?  How did your ancestor acquire it?  How did the item pass down to you?  What historical events would it have witnessed throughout the years?  What important family milestones might it have witnessed?  (Be sure to include a photo.)
 
Looking forward to seeing you in September.

 

Kristina Newcomer