cow-174822_1920Common family history narrative:
William E. SCOTT was born 1817 in Tennessee.  He married Sopha CURTEN in 1840 in Tennessee.  William died in 1882.  He had a farm.
What is backstory?  Backstory is that magical ingredient which transforms your vanilla-flavored family history narrative into Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Peppermint Crunch.  The foregoing account illustrates some family history narratives which read in a rather dry manner (some may argue).  Please don’t misunderstand.  Putting your family history story on paper places you at the head of the pack.  Many genealogists don’t get that far!  So congratulations for creating a legacy for your descendants by putting your story down on paper, clues from which to interpret the family history.
If you haven’t already done so, however, why not make that family history narrative sparkle?  Backstory is the key.  Some call it social context or historical context.   Historical inference is a means of creating backstory Historical inferencemeans to call upon historical knowledge of people, cultures, events, trends, causes, and effects to interpret the people or action at hand (1).
How would the foregoing account look transformed by historical inference?
William E. SCOTT (1817 – 1881) and his bride Sopha CURTEN SCOTT (1824 – 1894) farmed the fertile land of Knox County, Tennessee in 1850 with their four young children:  Nancy C., 7, Melvina J., 5, Mary E., 3, and Ann E., age 1.  With its abundant springs, the couple likely grew Indian corn or oats, and raised cattle or pigs surrounded by the majestic Cumberland Mountains and  the main Alleghany chain (2) (3).
Using contemporary sources from Google Books and Ancestry, the SCOTT family saga comes to life. Backstory also makes the story more readable for your descendants, helps resolve or create new research questions, and tests existing assumptions.  Why not try your hand at backstory?  You will slowly and dramatically see your ancestor come to life.

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(1)  Sturdevant, K. S. (2000).  Bringing your family history to life through social history.  Cincinnati, Ohio:  Betterway Books.
(2) 1850 U.S. Census. Tennessee, Knox County, Subdivision 15, dwelling number 1945, family number 1954, 13 December 1850, Roll:  M432-886; Page:  230B;  Image 462.   Head of household:  William SCOTT.  Retrieved from
(3)  Baldwin, T. and J. Thomas. (1854).  Knox, a county in the central part of E. Tennessee.  A new and complete gazetteer of the United States, 571.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  Lippincott, Grambo & Co.  Retrieved from Google Books.
Photograph citation
Sneeknirschen.   (2013, February 9). Cow animal brown pets cattle cows winter. License Public Domain CCO.  Retrieved from  Pixabay.