You’ve spent months, years, maybe even decades researching – diving into archives and gathering all those tidbits about our ancestors. You’ve made a timeline, filled in some missing pieces with some more genealogical research, organized everything, and now you’re finally ready to start writing you family history! Right?
Well, not so much, as I’ve discovered. I’ve done the research on Lodewijk Wesselo, organized it, have a nice timeline, and even an outline of the biography that I want to write about him. In fact, I’ve started writing already. But despite all the careful research, there are evidently still some tiny facts that I either missed during my research (like a conflicting date, which will hopefully be resolved at the end of this month), or a fact that didn’t seem important before but turns out to be important after all now that I’ve started writing (like information on where exactly the house he built was situated exactly). But those things still fall under the genealogical research header and are merely plugging little holes in my research I’ve discovered by writing Lodewijk’s story.
But even with those tiny bits of added research, I discovered I still didn’t have all the material I needed to write this biography. So what was I missing? It turned out to be some key historical facts. For instance, there was a rather puzzling remark made by Lodewijk Wesselo in one of his letters about the success of his story in relation to World War One. Another puzzling remark was about a switch in churches. Researching the economic situation in the Netherlands during and right after World War One and the history of the specific religious denomination he mentioned gave me the background to understand what he meant. Researching two major historical events that he encountered up close and personal gave me a general sense of time that I also needed for this biography.
All in all, I’ve concluded that you cannot stop with just genealogical research if you want to write a family history story. You always need historical background information, either to understand something your ancestors did, or to place them within their specific time during your narrative. So before I can finish Lodewijk Wesselo’s biography, it’s back to the history books for me.