WYFH Module One

Writing Your Family History – Module One


Tutor: Gill Blanchard
Author and Professional Family Historian
MA. Biography and Creative Non Fiction (UEA)
Module One: 12 Weeks comprised of five lessons and weekly group discussions
Next running: TBC, if you are interested in joining this course please email to register your interest.

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This is a practical course spread over a twelve week period with a leading expert in writing family histories and published author. It guides participants through the process of bringing their ancestors to life. The aim is on producing an entertaining family history that other people want to read. Each lesson includes writing exercises, examples and tips to aid the process of putting words on the page. The tutor provides personalised, in-depth feedback to all students throughout the course. Students are also encouraged to read and give feedback to each other.

The lessons also focus on enabling students to choose the most suitable format for them, what to include; how to find and choosing relevant social and historical context in order to create an interesting real life story. As such, Students are guided in how to move beyond a basic ‘John begat William and Jane begat Mary’ chronicle, as well as dealing with repetitions, missing pieces and anomalies in their writing.

The course lasts for twelve weeks and is comprised of five lessons. The first four lessons are posted online at fortnightly intervals, with an extra week after lessons four and five to allow additional time for reading, writing, critiquing and feedback.

The lessons include writing exercises, focussed guidance, useful tips, writing examples, links to useful resources and background reading. There will be regular live online discussions with the tutor and other students. A dedicated learning hub can be used at any time throughout the course to share work, ask questions and post news.

This course is aimed at those who have completed a body of research into their family history and are ready to start writing. However, you will undoubtedly find you need to do some additional research during the course, but will be able to call on the expertise of your tutor who has worked as a professional researcher for 30 years.

Module One can be taken as a standalone course. However. there are two additional modules available should you wish to continue. These are designed to build on the first module with new writing exercises to enable you to refine existing work, focus on particular themes and topics, and to develop more in-depth pieces of work.

Weekly live discussions via Zoom and/or a dedicated chat room take place between each of the weekly lessons listed below, including after the final lesson.

Starting Out

  • When to stop researching.
  • Format and what to include.
  • Planning.
  • Introduction to the Writing Craft.
  • Introduction to Adding Context.
  • Writing exercises and feedback.

Expanding a Family History Biography

  • Structuring a family history continued.
  • Dealing with repetition and anomalies.
  • Adding background context.
  • Writing exercises and feedback.

Bringing your Family History to Life – Building Background Material

  • Social and local history context continued.
  • Creating authenticity.

Developing a Family History Further

  • Focussed work using local histories, biographies, autobiographies, letters, memoirs and oral histories to build context.
  • Writing exercises and feedback.

Introduction to Publishing, Layout and Production and Review

  • Editing and layout.
  • Printing and publishing.
  • Reviewing progress.
  • Writing exercises and feedback.