21 May 2013
|Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net|
A post by Michael Hait, Historical writing and when to use present tense caught my eye. In it, he refers to an article Ben Yagoda Gets Sick of the Historical Present (on the Chronicle for Higher Education website).
As genealogists, we do a lot of writing! Much of it might be in the form of Facebook posts, e-mails, blog posts, entries into our genealogy software, etc, and it is still writing. Whether we’ve written one sentence or a 10-page footnoted article, we need to be “clear” in our communication.
That said, I found both Michael’s post and that by Ben Yagoda fun reads and they make a lot of sense. Stick to the present or past depending on the context of what you are writing. That’s neat, clean, and very understandable.
What do you think of the Historical Present as a tense in genealogy writing? Can it be appropriate or should it be eliminated?
Editor's Note: Harold Henderson, Midwestern Microhistory: A genealogy blog recently post a related piece, "I" and "We" in genealogy writing. He focuses on perspective vs verb tenses.
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