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What Makes a Good Story?

Stop 6
Now that you know your storyteller type, you can learn what makes a good story.

Finding stories from Indian Territory is challenging, mostly because many who retained amazing stories of the past are no longer here to tell them. But what does one do when they have no stories or know of no stories to tell?

The answer lies in two categories—Resources and Construction.
(1)    Resources to Find the Stories
  • Dawes Records: Enrollment Cards, Application Jackets, Land Records

  • Federal Census: Most Freedman families appear in Federal Census from 1900 onward

  • Military Records: WWI and WWII Draft Cards, Civil War & late  19th century pension Files 

  • Oral Histories: WPA Slave Narratives of Oklahoma, Indian Pioneer Papers

  • Newspapers: Chronicling America (free),, Genealogy Bank, OK Newspapers

  • Academic Journals: Journal of Negro History, Western History Quarterly

  • Federal Records: Congressional Record, American State Papers

  • Special Cases i.e. Perry Files, Western History Collection

  • Freedmen’s Bureau (Ft. Smith Arkansas Field Office)

  • Rejected Files: Rejected Dawes Files and MCR Files-Mississippi Choctaw

(2)    Construction of the story
There is a big difference between finding documents and telling a story. Many genealogists make a mistake of reciting data from a document. For example when telling a story—they begin to cite their genealogy BIG MISTAKE! The simple fact is—no one wants to hear your genealogy. Name after name, generation after generation does not make a story. No one wants to hear it!

However---the stories of how the ancestors lived, the challenges that they faced and how they overcame them—those are stories that people WANT to hear.

To construct the story—one must provide the following elements:
  • Backdrop
  • What happened 
  • Resolution or conclusion 
  • Reflection
In our February Meetup, we'll study the story elements of all good stories and share examples in groups. 
After that, people will work to complete their own story using one of the following storytelling styles:


Video & Film