Favourite Book(s) #35 – Tracing Your Ancestors Through Letters and Personal Writings by Ruth A Symes

Letters and Personal WritingsThis made it to the favourite’s list for whole host of reasons.

Our existence can be tracked in paper from the moment we are born, through education, employment and taxation records. Houses we buy and sell and even articles we write. In the modern age we write blogs, send tweets, upload holiday snapshots to Facebook. On reflection the list is endless in the modern world of things we leave behind, whether they are reams of paper and notebooks or 140 character tweets.

Our lives are made up of more than just dates and places. We potentially may tap into letters, notebooks, journals of our ancestors. Perhaps we even write our own, I certainly do. This book arrived and sat on my desk buried under a pile of papers for about a week. I had made the deal with myself that I would read the book once the papers had been filed or recycled. I confess I cheated and merged two piles into one and picked up the book!

The book is divided into 11 chapters, each one concluding with questions that we might consider when reviewing our ancestors written legacy, along with a list of further reading material and websites. The book concludes with a bibliography and index. My copy of the book is covered with post it notes and this is one of those books that I would take to a desert island, along with my own notebook and pen. It did make me reflect not only on the material my own ancestors left, and their ability to read and write, the circumstances of their lives and access to materials, but also my own writings; planners, notebooks, articles and publications and the reason behind such writings.

It would be interesting to see what conclusions people would draw from my own planners and notebooks after considering the way they are written and even down to the ink I use to write in them, as that does tell the reader something about me as a writer. I also reflected on what I want to happen to such writings once I have joined my ancestors. One other thing that I had not considered was writing in code and the ability to decipher such a code. That made me recall the BBC fictional series about a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park and used those techniques to solve crimes, and of course, the actual Bletchley Park which inspired the series.

I had never considered that I perhaps might leave a written note of why I write such material, I do though keep a copy of my articles when I submit them for publication and a copy of the published one. I do this for several reasons, one of which, is because I met an author a number of years ago and we began talking. They shared with me that they had not kept a copy of a book they had written and now the book was hard to come by. I thought that was quite sad and fairly ironic that they would have to pay somewhere in the region of £60 at least, to purchase a book that they had in fact written. I guess we all live and learn.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in Books, Favourite Book(s), Genealogy, Stationery, Filofax, Journals & Notebooks. Bookmark the permalink.

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