21 May 2013

Genealogy Writing -- Do you use the popular "Historical Present" tense? Should you?

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.

copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
Want to learn more about interacting with the blog, please read Hyperlinks, Subscribing and Comments -- How to Interact with Upfront with NGS Blog posts!
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to [email protected]. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to [email protected]

No comments:

Post a Comment