Writing Family Story, Writing History

Primary History article

By Hilary Claire, published 31st August 2006

Why did I research my family history and write a memoir based on my ancestors’ and my own life? And why is all this relevant to readers of the Primary History Journal and not just self indulgent musing? Because it is an insider’s story of trying to write honest history which really tells it how it was, and tries to explain why people are as they are, and how and why they take the decisions they take. I tried to show how my family has been part of wider history that shook the world and how difficult it is to tell that story and not over dramatise, or turn it into heroic ‘skiet en donder’ (blood and thunder) as we used to say in South Africa. All of us have a story, and as teachers perhaps we need to find ways for children to bring their own stories into the world.

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