Conversations with Ancestors

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Conversations with Ancestors

AI and the genealogist! Tips on using Chat GPT

In this post, I’m focusing on how we can use Chat GPT to generate conversations with our ancestors and add life to our family history. It seems implausible, but it was an interesting exercise for me. See the video attached for a walk-through on how to do this.

Benefits of Chat GPT for Family History

First, let’s look at the benefits of using chat GPT for your family history. I have found that it enhances my family’s storytelling. I’m able to engage in more vivid conversations in my stories. Plus, it enables me to gain insight into the ancestors’ lives and perspectives, especially when you ask Chat G P T to take on the role of your ancestor. And thirdly, it encourages an interest in your family history among your younger generations.

Prepare for your conversations.

The next thing to do is prepare for your conversation. You’ll need to gather the information that you want, such as your ancestors’, names, dates, occupations, et cetera. You might also collect relevant historical context around the era, the location, social norms, historical events, and so on. And do identify specific events or topics that you’d like to discuss.

Setting up Chat GPT.

The next step is setting up Chat GPT. If you haven’t already, sign up for an account and access the Chat GPT interface. Note: I’m using Chat G P T 4 because it enables me to put in a longer set of text to generate the response. Part of the setup requires you to customise your prompts. I believe it’s the engineering of your prompts that is going to give you the best results. Practice with those a few times to see what you can generate. And in your prompt, set up the appropriate response that you’re looking for, such as the settings; how long should it be, how creative, what voice tone, what style, etc.

Interacting with Chat GPT

Next is actually engaging in the conversation. You type your question or conversation starter as a prompt, press enter, and allow Chat G P T to answer. In one case, I tried this with a very long piece of text that I had already written for an ancestor, and I simply copied that from my blog post.

Analysing the Response

The next thing to do is to look at the response that Chat G P T gives you and analyse it for its historical accuracy and its consistency according to the style that you are after. You could then ask follow-up questions or redirect the conversation as needed.

Fine-tune the conversations.

Next, you want to fine-tune the conversation. You can adjust your settings or input for context for better results. You’ll learn this as you go. Experiment with different topics or events to explore various aspects of your ancestors’ lives.

Save the conversations as transcripts.

The next step is to save your generated conversations as text or transcripts. It’s a simple matter of highlighting, copying, and pasting. Then incorporate that generated dialogue into your family history narrative. Or your projects where you are creating a book or stories about your family history, and then sharing that experience with family members and encouraging them to participate.

The exploration of using chat GPT for your family history conversation starters, includes many different aspects, many different benefits, and some surprises along the way. I encourage you to explore your own ancestral stories by generating a conversation with Chat GPT.

In my video, I show you how I had that conversation with Chat GPT about a reply letter to me from a 200-year-old ancestor. I used this simple prompt:

Here’s a letter I wrote to my deceased great-grandfather Sam. Can you write a reply letter as if you were Samuel Allery, born in 1793 and dying in 1877?

You can read the original blog post, Dear Grandpa Sam in my blog.


I hope you’ve enjoyed that brief. Look at how you can dig deeper into creative styles for writing your stories and come up with things that you might not necessarily have considered, such as how we can use Chat GPT to generate conversation with our ancestors and give life to our family history.

From Ancestry to Narrative

Now, if you’re looking for more like this, head on over to My Preserving Family History Academy at coachcaroleonline.thinkific.com

You’ll find many useful courses that you might take. The latest one is called From Ancestry to Narrative. This is a 30-day challenge on how to use chat GPT to your advantage in writing your family history stories.

There are many modules and many lessons in there that take you through the steps of ancestry to the narrative, how to collaborate with artificial intelligence, how to create your story formats, and the art of storytelling.

So please come on over and have a look to see if you’d like to join in with others who are eagerly awaiting the start of this coaching course. You can enrol now. The course also includes four live virtual masterclasses scheduled for each weekend in May 2023.


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