Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Spinning gold from family stories

Published: 12/20/2019 10:54:27 AM

Modified: 12/20/2019 10:54:15 AM

The Monadnock Center for History and Culture will partner with the Peterborough Town Library to host author Christine Halvorson for a special presentation: “Spinning Gold: Shaping Your Family Research into Compelling Stories.” The program will be held at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 10 a.m.

Halvorson hopes the lecture and workshop will inspire attendees to dust off their boxes of family memorabilia and start mining them for golden stories – true or not.

Last fall, Halvorson published a young adult novel, “Inmate,” that is very loosely based on her family. She will focus on that book’s genesis, which was her curiosity about the technology behind such websites as ancestry.com.

“I had zero interest in researching my family. None,” she said. “But my husband was researching his, and I was just fascinated by how all that data was inter-linked.”

Experts advise to start with what you already know when undertaking genealogical research, so Halvorson chose her maternal grandmother, who was nearby as Halvorson was growing up. She searched the U.S. Census from 1920 just to see where her grandmother might have lived as a child.

“She was missing in action,” Halvorson says. “I found her family, but I couldn’t find her. Suddenly I cared very much about family history.”

Years later, amid mountains of file folders and sticky notes, Halvorson had more questions than answers about what was true in her family. Instead of being discouraged, she was inspired to fictionalize “the known-knowns,” she had found in the data.

Halvorson will share her research process, the mistakes she’s made, and a bit about the story-writing process.

“The work that goes into genealogical research so often never sees the light of day beyond, maybe, family members,” she said. “Every family has secrets and stories to tell….

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