Tips on Preserving Your Past

Monday, September 19, 2005

For most of us, genealogy becomes addictive after a short time. I think this is why it is so hard for us to commit to actually publishing our findings. We know we are "that close" to finding the next missing link and, for every ancestor found, there are at least two more (the parents) to find, so our work never seems complete. I for one have had a hard time commiting even just a small family history story to paper. So here are some ideas to try to help you overcome this fear.

  • Try focusing on just one family or a few generations. For me, it is my Rayner/Aggio family that I have been concentrating on. This family are particularly interesting as the family were in and out of Workhouses (Marylebone and Mile End) for four generations.
  • Similarly, you could choose a theme such as the Workhouse theme above.
  • Don't worry about only having enough material for a small booklet. The cost of publishing has come down hugely in the computer age. Check out This is a self-publishing service where you submit a book for publishing, order copies for yourself and provide a web address to your relatives so they can order a copy of your book for themselves. For $39.95 US it even has the option of applying for an ISBN number as well as using the Amazon bookstore.
If writing isn't your thing (and for many people it is not), then try creating a heritage album instead. My 2nd hobby is scrapbooking so I am creating a scrapbook for my family history. I like this idea because:
  • Pages can be created out of order (chronological, alphabetical etc) and new pages inserted in-between. As I write up each family story I just create a one or two page layout for each family.
  • Like a book, my album will eventually have a table of contents and an index (although these will need to be created either in a temporary form (pencil) or re-printed on paper each time I add something new to the album.
  • Photos are easily added (either originals, scanned copies or photocopies) as are other items such as ships passenger lists, newpaper cuttings (originals or copies). This cuts down the need for lots of written materials. Remember, even if you don't have a lot of documents for your ancestors you can add information about the town where they lived, or the events in their lives.
  • Other 3-dimensional keepsakes can be added (either the original item or a colour copy), baby tags from the hospital, tickets or postcards from a trip etc.
Genealogy is hard work. We should take the time to share and enjoy our work with our family while we can.

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