Writing Family History Templates

Writing Template # 1: An Ancestry Search In The Court News

It has become obvious to me that searching for 4th cousins twice removed to add to my ancestry tree is not my forte! They all seem distant & I struggle to feel connected. Until I find a story that is! Then the connection is made. However, when I wrote “Filling In the Gaps” & a “Love Letter For Jimmy” my memories were my starting point. Now, when my ancestry search finds a story in the court news saving them on templates and sharing them with you is going to be quite a different journey!

An image of the Crystal Palace showing the front image with people lying on the grass and under trees in the foreground.
Crystal Palace 1851

Theophillus Adcock

The reason that I have given the image of Crystal Palace pride of place in this post is because it was built in the same year that Theophillus was born. Although I love the name Theophillus I always think of him as Theo. I chose Theo as my first “unknown” family member because his name is so much easier to search for than Thomas or William! I found all the usual information on “Ancestry” search which I carefully added to my tree. this was followed by birth, baptism, marriage, children, census and death. I sat back, looked at the numbers and moved on to the next task which was to add his children. I found twelve children born over a period of 24 years! After number two I was losing the will to live and started surfing the tree for somebody else. After a day or two my tree resembled a patch of weeds! I needed to find my “Plan B”.

British Newspaper Archives (Plan B)

Newspaper report on the court case of Theophilus Adcock.
Bury and Norwich Post: 4th October 1881

I found the BNA through a post on Facebook when I read that you could have 5 free searches without a subscription! Once again the name, Theophillus Adcock proved a winner. I chose to look in the smaller, local papers as I reasoned he would have less competition. There he was, 5 searches and 5 articles. Two different papers reported the same story and the other 3 were different events repeated in different local papers. I know I won’t be lucky every time I search but when luck comes your way we should enjoy it while it lasts. Having a story already written for me was a first but I then realised that fitting it on my family tree was going to be a challenge. I needed another plan.

Family History Templates

Family History Template 1

Making a family history template seemed a perfect solution. I decided to make a template that I could use for any other stories I found. I began by making a list of how the template would be used.

  1. I wanted to be able to print the story to put in a folder so I didn’t want a coloured background that would add to the printing costs
  2. I needed to have space to add the “Facts” (DOB, DOD etc)
  3. I wanted to be able to add a photo or two
  4. Some stories would be longer than others so I would need to add an extra page in case.
  5. I wanted the overall look to be uncluttered (or minimilist as they call it now!)

Family History Downloads

Page 2 of family history template recounting the story of the activities that led Theophilus Adcock into court.
Family History Template: Page 2

My final plan is to make a different family history template for each family member. I will add the download link to my post so that my readers (that’s you) can use them too. I will write about the process I used to find that particular story in the hopes it will contain an idea or perhaps motivation for your own searches. In this way we will all end up with a choice of templates that we can edit to fit our stories. Even if this first template isn’t to your liking I sure the story of Theophilus Adcock will be. So, grab a cup of coffee and read how Theo had a plan and, unlike mine, it didn’t quite work out how he thought it would!

Supporting Notes For Template

  1. I used the “fill” button to place an image behind the name.
  2. I used a photo of Norfolk as my main image as I don’t have a photo of Theo. I also thought about using a map of the area as another option
  3. Most borders are black but I chose the deep red because my printer was running low on black ink!
  4. I kept my “Facts” to the minimum but the text box can be made larger if stats are your thing.
  5. I placed Theo into his own time line for when he was born to give me a sense the world he would grow up in. It helped me to fill the connection that had been missing from my ancestry research.
Family history template poster designed for a Pinterest save.
# 1 Family History Template

In the weeks to come I will be adding more templates for you to download. To make sure you don’t miss out click the “Follow” button for notification. Please let me know if there is something you would like added to future family history templates.


16 thoughts on “Writing Family History Templates

Add yours

  1. I am experiencing ‘writer’s block’ for my blog. I wrote about an ancestor using the same narrative format as before – name, date, event, a comment or two, repeat. Your writing templates gave me a new idea about how to present the information. Waiting for permission to use a picture then will post. Thanks!


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    1. Greetings Julie, Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. It is my second attempt at blogging after my first one. “Ready Set Retire” failed dismally to reach my audience even though I followed all the guidelines. This time my focus was to “talk” to my readers through my writing. Your comments are just the confirmation I need to keep going. Many thanks. Just Vicki


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