Thursday, September 1, 2011

Article #163 Family Gatherings

Publishing a history is just the first step, then comes distributing it to your family. When relatives gather at reunions, marriages, weddings, graduations, baby blessings, holidays and even funerals, these are good times to share your history with those who are interested.

We hold a regular Johnson family reunion each year. At these gatherings I make available my latest histories including my own life story because it includes genealogy information on my parents and grandparents that I’d like to share. When I distribute paper copies, I charge printing costs to cover my expenses.

Family histories can be saved as PDF Portable Digital Files and burned inexpensively to CDs or DVDs to hand out for less than $1/each for those with access to computers. There is software available to make decorative labels just like a cover for a book, but smaller to fit round CDs and DVDs. If you give out both printed copies and a CD or DVD with a PDF copy of the history those wishing to print out the history can do it on their own printer or at a copy center.

Interviews of a family member or yourself can eliminate the writing and printing effort, but do require special software for editing and good equipment for recording. Many older individuals are more comfortable talking than writing about their lives. Audio-video record-ings can be saved to disc also. It’s fun to see the person be-ing interviewed. Old 8 mm home movies can be converted to digital, as can old audiotapes.

I have some old vinyl records that my uncle had made talking with my parents when I was a young child. What a thrill to hear my father’s voice as he died 66 years ago. I transcribed his words and put them in my history and I could have made a sound clip of his actual voice to publish digitally online or on a CD or DVD-a new dimension in publishing that needs to be explored more.

For my mom’s funeral we scanned old photos and snapshots of her throughout her life to make a DVD slide show, adding appropriate music to make a lovely tribute to play on a video screen during her viewing at the mortuary. The options for publishing your family histories are limitless with the new technologies being developed all the time. It just takes some planning and effort.

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