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Tracing Your Ancestors Through Letters and Personal Writings: A Guide for Family Historians

Publisher: Pen & Sword

$33.45
SKU:
PNS296
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Product Description

Media: BOOK - paperback, 280 pages
Author: R. Symes
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781473855434
Other: b&w photos, addresses, bibliog, index
Publisher: Pen & Sword

Could your ancestors write their own names or did they mark official documents with a cross? Why did great-grandfather write so cryptically on a postcard home during the First World War? Why did great-grandmother copy all the letters she wrote into letter-books? How unusual was it that great-uncle sat down and wrote a poem, or a memoir?

Researching Family History Through Ancestors' Personal Writings looks at the kinds of (mainly unpublished) writing that could turn up amongst family papers from the Victorian period onwards - a time during which writing became crucial for holding families together and managing their collective affairs.

With industrialisation, improved education, and far more geographical mobility, British people of all classes were writing for new purposes, with new implements, in new styles, using new modes of expression and new methods of communication (e.g. telegrams and postcards). Our ancestors had an itch for scribbling from the most basic marks (initials, signatures and graffiti on objects as varied as trees, rafters and window ledges), through more emotionally-charged kinds of writing such as letters and diaries, to more creative works such as poetry and even fiction.

This book shows family historians how to get the most out of documents written by their ancestors and, therefore, how better to understand the people behind the words.

Contents:
Acknowledgements
Introduction: Getting Up Close to Personal Writings
 - How might I locate the personal writings of an ancestor?
 - Why did my ancestor write?
 - How did my ancestor develop writing skills?
 - What did my ancestor write with?
 - What difficulties might my ancestor have faced in writing?
 - How can I learn to read and understand my ancestor's writings better?
 - Personality in writing: graphology
 - Questions to ask yourself of all of your ancestor's personal writing
 - Further reading
1. What's in a Name? Literacy and Signatures
 - Ancestors who could not sign their names
 - Signatures
 - Names in Other Places
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's mark, name or signature
 - Further reading
2. 'Given to Correspondence': Letters and Letter-books
 - Social networks
 - The physicality of letters
 - Delivery
 - Content
 - Style
 - Letter-books
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's letter
 - Further reading
3. 'Eight Words or Fewer': Telegrams
 - Development
 - Some special considerations
 - Messages
 - Coded or ciphered telegraphs
 - Questions to ask of your Ancestor's telegram
 - Further reading
4. 'Personalised Pictures': Greetings Cards and Postcards
 - Greetings cards
 - Postcards
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's greeting cards and postcards
 - Further reading
5. Marshalling Memories: Diaries
 - The development of diaries
 - Some important considerations
 - Content
 - Style
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's diary
 - Further reading
6. 'Humble Reminders': Appointment Diaries and Birthday Books
 - Appointment diaries
 - What can you find out from an appointment diary?
 - Birthday books
 - Questions you can ask of your ancestor's appointment books
 - Further reading
7. Travellers' Tales: Holiday Journals
 - Where do they go?
 - Content
 - Style
 - Useful comparisons
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's travel journal
 - Further reading
8. Scribbles in the Margin: Annotation in Books
 - Why did your ancestor annotate his or her books?
 - Annotation in different kinds of book
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's annotations
 - Further reading
9. 'Collections of Sad Crudites': Commonplace Books
 - The keepers of commonplace books and why they kept them
 - How did my ancestor make use of his or her commonplace book?
 - Where did the material come from?
 - What can I learn from the way in which the book is organized?
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's commonplace book
 - Further reading
10. Rambling Reminiscences: Autobiographies and Memoirs
 - Published memories and autobiographies
 - Why might my ancestor have decided to write a memoir or autobiography
 - When was the memoir or autobiography written?
 - Content
 - Style
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's memoir or autobiography
 - Further reading
11. Literary Leanings: Poetry
 - Our ancestors' knowledge of published poetry
 - Audience
 - Dedications
 - Content
 - Style
 - Questions to ask of your ancestor's unpublished poetry
 - Further reading
Bibliography
Index

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