Sunny McClellan Morton

Expert Author

Sunny McClellan Morton is a genealogy writer who loves helping other people document their personal and family stories. She has degrees in both History and Humanities, which give her a unique perspective on that most personal branch of history, that of the individual and family. The author of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories (Family Tree Books), Sunny also writes the Family Archivist column and frequent feature articles for Family Tree Magazine and teaches an 8-week intensive online course on writing family hisory. She was recently appointed the editor of Ohio Genealogy News. Sunny is a member of the National Genealogical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists, Ohio Genealogical Society, and International Society of Family History Writers and Editors. Find weekly tips for life story writing at her blog, Your Life In 5 Minutes, and learn more about her at sunnymorton.com.

Favorite Genealogy Quote

"My genealogy is all done." Because it's rarely true. Names and dates traced in a thin thread are just the beginning.

What are your specific genealogical interests?

I care most about three aspects of genealogy: the fascinating stories you find close to home (like in interviews, diaries, and heirlooms); the process and ethics of writing personal and family history; and how genealogy can enrich our sense of self and our relationships with our living relatives.

What got you into genealogy?

My parents spoon-fed me family stories from the time I was child -- including my own stories. These gave me a sense of who I am, and who our family was a generation ago, or two, or five. They roped me into their research as soon as I was old enough to crank a microfilm reader, read a headstone, and scan old newspapers for our family names. I think it was only natural that as soon as I had my own children, I went back to those old stories and began passing them along.

Most surprising genealogical find:

That one branch of my husband's family in 1860 owned a fair-sized plantation and several enslaved people (including children). That was an unpleasant surprise. Interestingly, within a decade, a son of that formerly-wealthy family was working the dangerous, sooty coal mining railroads of West Virginia. That discovery actually felt kind of good, like he got what he deserved.

If you could find the family history of any historical great, who would it be and why?

I don't care so much about the historical greats; I think they get plenty of attention. I want to know about the daily, invisible lives of everyday people, especially the daily, invisible lives of women.

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