Letter S challenge

I know what you’re going to say – where is the letter R challenge? I will write that one when the results of my DNA testing come in.


Writing your family history unit at UTAS involves writing short 250 word stories about an event or person in your family history. I am finding this unit very difficult. I don’t mind writing factual reports or timelines of a person’s life and including the referencing as I go. That is what I think a family historian should do so others can check the sources to verify facts mentioned.

Personally I feel once I start putting words into the mouth of my ancestor or writing about what their life was like or could have been like, then I am no longer writing family history but am writing fiction or narratives that can’t necessarily be proven.

But I did mention to the Facebook group I am a member of that I would include my short stories here, so they could leave comments about where I could improve. Click on the link for each story as each is a new post.

Story 1 about a whale hunt that relates to my great great grandfather William Smith

Story 2 about my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson

Story 3 about my great great grandfather William Chandler

Story 4 about the townland Garshooey in Donegal Ireland

Story 5 about a murder story from Trove

Story 6 another about William Chandler

As I complete each story I will add the link.

Readers: How are you finding this unit? Can you recommend anything for me to read that might help me improve my storytelling skills?



9 thoughts on “Letter S challenge

  1. Sue, as a fellow retired public servant (social policy, NSW) I too find it difficult to write creatively – I am so used to concentrating on fact. However, although I found it difficult to put words into my ancestors’ mouths, with plenty of concentration and practice I managed – nothing as good as some students though.

  2. I did the first writing course and feel that same as you, Once you add the voice then you are writing a fiction. The course itself was good in that it made me find more information about the times to add to the story.

  3. S = Social culture. I
    believe that to really know our family we need to know the social environment in which they grew up and experienced. Without this information we cannot write our Stories.

  4. Like Sue, Margaret and Claire, I tend to write only with the facts, and this makes boring reading. However, whilst studying at UTAS I am slowly learning to combine these facts with creativity, not necessarily fiction. I enjoyed reading Nick Brodie’s KIN, however, I can’t remember whether it is written in the first person. It encouraged me to look beyond just the facts and to research more. Sue, one thing I am learning is not to judge our writing against others, but learn from it. We are all different with different likes and styles. I found your story about your grandfather, William Chandler, very easy to read and understand. The Chandler family were an important family in the development of our area, Knox in Victoria. Wonder if there is any connection?

    • Rae,
      Maybe some of his children headed to the mainland. Do you have any names for the Know connection? There was another Chandler family in Tassie at the same time who were more related to maritime history.

  5. S is for SCOTT

    Alexander Grant Scott was my second great grandfather. Born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland in 1826, shortly after marrying Annie Reid in 1854, they made their way to Australia and settled in Victoria.

    For the early years, they lived in the Warrnambool / Hamilton area where Alexander worked as a Road Contractor and a Water Carrier. They had nine children and later in life they moved to the city and lived in the Collingwood / Abbotsford area.

  6. S is for saving everything researched, in many forms and locations.

    S is for surprises

    S is for storytelling in many forms- writing, photos, oral, poetry, visual, creating/making, blogs……..

  7. S is for Silver, each piece tells a story. The hallmarks on the back of a spoon give a date and a link to a County or Country . A Crest can link to a Family … all clues in tracing a Family History

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