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Home > 300+ Project > Writing Phase > General Guidelines


Welcome to the Writing Phase of the 300+ Project - an ambitious, cooperative effort to bring Orville Corson's landmark volumes into the 21st Century. Many people are working together to achieve the goal.  The following guidelines are for writers, editors, resource support, peer reviewers - for anyone who is participating and helping during the Writing Phase of the Project.

Getting Started

1-1  Assignment and Scope - Check your assignment sheet for scope, Contact Editor, and availability of data files. Make sure the scope of your assignment and writing “module” are what you  intend.  Work with your Contact Editor if clarifications or changes are needed.

1-2  Getting Help - Help is available to you. The 300+ Project has a volunteer editorial staff and some larger modules will also have a Module Editor. Any one of them may be assigned as your Contact Editor. Your Contact Editor will help you tackle problems and find solutions.

1-3  Advisory Council  - Another way to get help while you are working on your module is by participating in the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is an electronic forum where problems, suggestions, ideas, and experiences can be shared and discussed. Its value depends on participation, so we are urging all writers and editors to take part in it.  See: “How to take part in the Advisory Council” in the Supplemental Information section.

1-4  Learning to live with the Editors -

     Rule #1: They are not infallible. They are reasonably flexible when problems arise.

     Rule #2: The editorial staff has overall responsibility for the work, so “the buck stops there“ rule applies when decisions are needed.  Friendly settlement of conflicts is the goal.

1-5  Flexibility in Following Guidelines - All of the modules that writers are preparing for the 300+ Project need to be similar enough to one another that they are readily recognized as parts of a common publication. Talk to your Contact Editor if certain other practices will work better for your module.

1-6  Information Available from Data Files  - Before the Writing Phase began, the CCFHA spent five years working on a Data Phase. As a result of that effort, considerable information is available to writers for many (but not all) modules.

1-7  Milestones - Each module writer is asked to give early attention to a plan and schedule for preparing his or her module. We ask that you share the information with your Contact Editor in the form of dated milestones on a chart which you can use to track your own progress.

Practices that Help - along the way

2-1  Communications - Writers should actively exchange communications with their respective Contact Editors. If several writers are cooperating on the same Division they are encouraged to coordinate with each other.

2-2  Outlines - If you are writing, we ask you to think early about an outline of what you expect to write for publication, and then send a copy of your outline to your Contact Editor. It would be helpful if the outline can include a rough estimate of exhibits, photos, etc.

2-3  Periodic Reports - We are asking writers and editors to send a brief progress report to the editorial staff each quarter, in a form of your own choosing. It helps to know if help is needed

2-4  Writing Medium - In today’s modern world, most manuscripts are written with word processing software and the results are captured in electronic/digital files. Our final publication will almost certainly require digital files and we might as well start early. Coordinate what you are doing with your Contact Editor: Not all word processing files are compatible; “MS Word” is the default standard.

2-5  Back-up Records and Files - Each writer should keep backup copies of work in progress, including submittals made to the Contact Editor, “just in case.” Label the backup copies clearly to identify contents and dates.

2-6  Documentation Phase - Everyone working on the 300+ Project Writing Phase is working on a Documentation Phase as well. The goal of the documentation phase is to collect originals or copies of as many things cited in the Writing Phase as possible. There is no better way to establish the validity of the various sources and citations.

2-7  Schedules and Deadlines - Only a few schedules have been set so far for the Writing Phase, but with your help we can be thinking about what may be feasible. Let us know what works for you.

2-8  Expenses - The Writing Phase shouldn’t cost anyone very much.  See: “Asking for expense reimbursements” in the Supplemental Information section..

What You Write

3-1  How Your Module Fits - Each module is a part of the larger whole. We want them to fit together into a flawless anthology. We expect reasonably similar formats, construction, and numbering, all of them based on accepted standards. Genealogical standards should follow the National Genealogical Society, see Grammatical standards should conform to "Elements of Style" (Strunk) or similar authority.

3-2  Writing for Interest - You will want the reader to "get lost" in the story of these real people, their lives and times - not just birth, marriage and death. As genealogists like to say: "Put some meat on those bones!"

3-3  Anecdotal and Apocryphal Information - Anecdotes are stories told by a member of the family and verified by other members. Apocryphal tales may sound plausible but lack substantiation (or may even be disclaimed by others in the family) Be careful to authenticate the tales you include - or if you include a dubious story, be sure to set it apart from the rest and include suitable disclaimers.

3-4  Documentation - What is reported as fact needs to be factual, and the facts need to be documented. Documentation means clear evidence of the facts through citations and/or copies. Some documentation is more likely than others to be valid; we like to have strong, complete documentation.

3-5  Bibliography - It is customary to gather information about published sources such as books and newspapers into a list of publications, or bibliography.

3-6  Copyrights, Credits - Most books and many other published materials have at one time or another been protected by copyrights. Writers should be careful to cite all sources and obtain authors’ written permission before using copyrighted material if quoting directly. If abstracting, acknowledge the source precisely.

3-7  Acknowledgements - Most books like this one are possible only through the participation of many people, who typically are acknowledged for their help. The 300+ Project publication will be especially rich in the many people who are making it possible, and need to be acknowledged.

3-8  Incorporating Other Publications - Sooner or later in the preparation of a module the writer will probably need to rely extensively on genealogical information published in another book. There is no need for all the information to be repeated in the 300+ publication. Instead, the reader should be told where further information can be found.. The module writer will include the citation and decide how much needs to be repeated and how much can be omitted from the current publication.

3-9  Maternal Lines - Mothers are vital links in the story, of course, but how far can our story branch out? To a certain extent this is “writer’s discretion” because the more interesting the storyline, the more you will probably want to include.

3-10  Numbering Systems - Individuals in the 300+ Project publication will be assigned unique person-by-person identifiers, although the exact identifiers are still under discussion. Special guidelines will be issued later.

3-11  Living Persons/Privacy Issues - Participants in the 300+ Project publication have a responsibility to protect private information.  Consensus usually calls for omitting  records for living persons unless they give permission.

3-12  Supplemental Research - No matter how complete the family history, there will always be questions. The quality of what is written depends in large part on the quality of available information. It is up to the individual writer to decide how much additional research is enough. Your Contact Editor may be able to suggest further sources of information and people who can help with research..

3-13  Taking Advantage of "Module Zero" Materials - In addition to the routine things that help shape books, like prefaces and tables of contents, the 300+ Project publication will contain supplemental information about Corson family history in general, the CCFHA, the Corson Cousins newsletter, the Library Program, our Translation Project, and the recent Corson DNA Project study.

3-14  Taking Advantage of Other CCFHA Resources - Over the years the CCFHA has accumulated considerable resources ranging from library materials to indexes, bibliographies, and family group sheets. Get in touch with your Contact Editor for further assistance, the sooner the better.

3-15  Seeking Supplemental Materials - Quite likely you will want to get hold of further materials to supplement what you already have. We’re encouraging plenty of pictures, for example. Many records do exist, but maybe you don't have access to them yourself - call on the Team to dig them out - start with all the information you do know and let them try.

3-16  How Long Should Your Module Be? - There are no page budgets or limits so far. The length of your module should depend primarily on what needs to be said (and said well). That said, we reserve the right to set page budgets.

3-17  Style Sheet - A style sheet will be issued later for your reference. That’s one nice thing about word processing: The format can be changed at any time with ease. Printed materials submitted for review should be double spaced and page numbered consecutively.

Finishing Touches

As your writing efforts approach completion, you will want to work with the editors on a series of “completion milestones” If they aren’t on your milestone chart by then, you will want to add them:

4-1  Draft Reports - Your written module will probably go through several draft versions. With word processing you can make frequent changes and never bother to call them separate drafts. Eventually you will be ready to submit your work for review (dated and identified with your name and address, of course). Here is what to expect:

Preliminary Draft Submittal - Submit a Preliminary Draft to your Contact Editor when you think you are perhaps 80% through the writing, all the really major problems have either been solved or are in the process of being solved. The Contact Editor will return your work with comments; this is not a final review or edit, but it is the best time to resolve any questions.

Final Draft Submittal - The Final Draft should be submitted to your Contact Editor when your writing is 100% complete and it is accompanied by copies of all the pictures and other exhibits you want included in the publication.

Peer Review - Every written module should be reviewed prior to publication by other participants who are familiar with what is in the module. Peer Review is concerned with content, quality, and documentation. Reviewers will probably recommend improvements.

Final Editing - One of the editors will conduct an editorial review that potentially will include everything  necessary to make your work a good finished “product”. Editors will be looking for good organization of thoughts and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. They will check the module against style standards, make sure the module fits consistently with “surrounding” modules, work with the peer reviewers to ascertain the adequacy of documentation, and generally look for any other aspect of the module that may be in need of correction or improvement. .

4-2  Final Submittal - After the Writer has made all appropriate changes identified during Peer Review and Editing, the module will again be submitted to the Contact Editor, together with all necessary original photographs, documents, and other materials needed for publication.

4-3  Indexing - All good genealogies must be indexed to be useful, but modern electronic methods should be able to take care of most of it. We may ask writers for a little help later.

4-4  Then What?  - The 300+ Project will be finished when everything from the Writing Phase has been published. Both the Writing Phase and the Documentation Phase will end when final submittals have been received for all modules, but cooperation with follow-on efforts would be helpful.

Your Editorial Staff joins in wishing you Happy Writing!

Editor-in-Chief, Gale Corson                          Associate Editor, Iverne Rinehart                                 

Supplemental Information

How to Take Part in the Advisory Council - Anyone interested in the Writing Phase of the 300+ Project, especially everyone with an active role, is encouraged to participate in the Advisory Council. To register, all you need is your name and email address ("handle"):

Go to the Google home page , click on "Groups". Then click on "New users: Join" to register and set your own password. Our forum is called the "Corson 300+ Project Advisory Council". You will receive new messages as they are posted unless you select one of the other options available to you.

Using Input Data Files - Data files created during the Data Phase are available to module writers and contain a wealth of valuable and quite usable information. We strongly urge writers to take advantage of them and the information they contain. It isn’t feasible for each writer to buy and use all the proprietary software that has been used, but there are other options. Explore the options with your Contact Editor.

Documentation Phase - Every fact that ends up in a family history module had to come from someone, somewhere. Documentation is simply a record of where the facts came from. We encourage participants to seek information from many sources. Having found the facts, however, too often we fail to keep a record of where they can be found again, or which ones seem most reliable. Research and documentation need to go hand-in-hand all the way. One way is to keep copies of the sources, which we encourage.

Publication Phase - Publication is the final goal of the 300+ Project and all the materials developed during the Writing Phase. Many details about publication remain to be decided later when a Publication Production Manager will help with the decisions and put them into practice. We hope our progress during the Writing Phase will make it possible for the Publication Production Manager to be working in 2006 or soon after.

Conservation Phase - The 300+ Project is a new beginning, but not the end. The massive effort of catching up on 70 years of family growth and “lost” families is not likely to be repeated soon. But times are changing. Once we have captured all of the new 300+ publication in digital form, it becomes a relatively easy task to update a module and release it for republication on CD. It’s important therefore to capture as much as we can. It’s not a mandate for writers, but they will be the best informed and we hope they will care enough to continue with the Conservation Phase for a little while after the Writing Phase is done.

Asking for Expense Reimbursements - Module Writers and others who are working on the 300+ Project are likely to find themselves paying for a few things like photocopies, postage, computer disks, and disk mailers. Some participants may choose to cover the costs themselves; as a way to help the 300+ Project. Those participants who prefer to be reimbursed need to follow the procedures provided for expense reimbursements.  

Additional Special Guidelines may be issued later as needed.

Assignments for the Writing Phase must be coordinated in advance with the editorial staff.

A full set of the General Guidelines will be supplied to each participant.

Site maintained by  Michael Corson (CCFHA Member M-297). Please report any errors, comments, or suggestions to

The CCFHA web site originally created by Jeff Owens (CCFHA Member M-260).

This page updated 03 Dec 2011

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