APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2007-11 > 1194980950
From: "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>
Subject: [APG] Writing family accounts (was Punctuation, vertical lists)
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 13:09:46 -0600
>I believe it would be correct to use a colon if you rephrased the first
into a complete sentence: e.g., "By his first wife he had three children:"
>LOL Just when you thought there were no more permutations to this - let me
offer one. About 15 years ago I talked David Greene, then new lead editor
of The American Genealogist, and an English professor, into dropping "by" in
sentences like the one below. He agreed that it smacked of "put on your
boots and ride" chauvinism and, for my articles at least, substituted
"with." Time to give the woman a little credit in the bearing of children!
Melinde, your observation is especially appropriate when taken in tandem
with the concurrent thread about women being omitted from invited guests at
Regard the wording we use to write genealogical accounts, there's another
barrier to correcting the illogical wording you and Richard have
highlighted: The genealogical software we use does not actually treat a
couple as a couple in such a manner that a list of children can be presented
as the *their* children, rather than *his* children "by/with her."
Crane, Wray, and Curran (_Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex
Families, and International Kin,_ NGS Special Publication no. 64, 1999)
presents the option of making either the female or the male the dominant
person in the genealogical account--a choice based upon whether the male or
the female is the descendant of the family under development.
However, most gen software has not been brought up to date in this respect.
In some of them, when a woman bears children and the male is identified, the
male is automatically treated as the dominant figure in the biographical
account--even though he may not be the descendant in the family. At best,
users are allowed to choose which person is to be the dominant person. That
person's life is presented blow by blow, with only incidental mention of the
spouse that shared those experiences and had some others concurrently. Then,
after the children are said to have been produced by that parent by/with
so-and-so we have a separate account of the life led by the spouse during
The practical result is a fragmented, disjointed account of a family's
experience. In almost all genealogical accounts, husbands have occupations
and religious affiliations, husbands migrate, and husbands produce children.
Whatever the wife did is then an addenda to the account even though she,
too, had an occupation that may have been intricately involved with his;
she, too, migrated when he did; and she had even more to do with the bearing
of those children than he.
Just to clarify matters: I'm not just approaching this from the standpoint
of "sexism." I'm approaching this as a writer. If we're creating a family
history and we're telling the story of a nuclear family, we need the ability
to present the account of the father and mother as an integrated whole--not
as two separate people who happened, on one line, to produce children
together. That integration of lives and experiences is one of the beauties
of the family accounts presented by the NGS Family History Writing Contest
or those required by the Board for Certification's Requirement 7 (narrative
genealogy, narrative pedigree, or narrative lineage).
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
_Evidence: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian_
(the "briefcase edition")
_Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts
to Cyberspace_ (the "desktop reference edition")
_QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resource, Evidence Style_
_Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers,
Writers, Editors, Lecturers & Librarians_
_Isle of Canes_ www.isleofcanes.com ("A masterpiece. You may never look at
American history the same way again"--Historical Novels Review)
|[APG] Writing family accounts (was Punctuation, vertical lists) by "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>|