Tips to Write Your Own Life Stories
By Deb Kaiser and Jeanette Adams
As we look at all of the information we have collected on our ancestors (photos, documents, stories, timelines, immigration records,
etc.), who would want all of those miscellaneous files after we die? More importantly, how can what we have collected be of interest to family today? Stories are one way to make that information come alive. The hardest part of writing a story is getting started. Some strategies that were suggested this morning include picking events from your life and writing on them, for example, cars that I have owned, a favorite vacation, a description of our parents. One person gathered all of her family’s Christmas letters and put them in a three-ring binder. Another strategy is to write about one of your grandparents. Scanning photos, letters, cards, and documents will allow you to insert them into your document along with the text. What you know about yourself and your immediate ancestors is a treasure that can be shared for generations to come. For more about this subject, see our handout under Presentations in our Members section.
The Records Are Always Right, Right?
by Mary Celeste
The answer is a resounding “no” which is also unsettling. A source that was created at the time of the event is likely to be more reliable than someone’s memory 70 years later. If something you have recorded seems odd or in conflict with other information, you will want to explore further and gather other pieces of information that can point to the same event. Perhaps there was something in the newspaper at the time. There might have been a letter to a family member that mentioned the event. When you get to secondary sources, such as, transcripts, errors can creep in more easily. You will want to find the original if possible. Our presenter gave extensive information on this process which you can see in her handout in our Members section.
Working with Photographs and Slides for Genealogy
John Kuhns presented a slideshow of his presentation which is available in the Members section of this website. He covered tintypes which present unique problems. When working with color photos they can be manipulated by changing hue, contrast, brightness and focus to mention a few. He said newspaper photos are the worst to work with because of poor quality. He also talked about repairing damage. He suggested scanning at the highest resolution possible when working with slides and to leave the scanner lid open when scanning them. Enlarging photos may give you some detail in terms of date or occupation, but also crop to include just the people. He also mentioned the formats in which the photo is stored, such as, BMP and JPEG. The Adobe Photoshop software has a wealth of tools but is expensive. Many in the group suggested Photoshop Elements which has the tools we are most likely to use. Be sure to see the whole presentation for additional information.
Social Media & A Search Engine: Genealogy Tools for the 21st Century
Tracy Keeney took us on a fascinating journey hunting for scarce and sometimes non-existent records of her Armenian family history. At the beginning of World War I, the Russians and the Turks were enemies. The Armenians were looked on with suspicion the by Turkish government. That was followed by wholesale massacre of able bodied men and the forced march through the desert of their women, children and elderly. The traditional searches through Ancestry and Family Search revealed little. So Tracy started using social media to find living relatives. She would search white pages to find names that were Armenian and contacted them. She did the same searching on Facebook and used Messenger to contact individuals. She gradually got a national group started on Facebook and received even more information. Eventually, she was able to identify the people in a family photo her mother had and even found one source that had a hand drawn map of her ancient village labeled with the family name of those that lived in the various homes. Her handout in the members section gives the social media she used plus some tips for effective searching and communication.
It's Your Turn
John and Carol Kuhns provided an excellent planning session for members to think about what programs they were intersted in for the coming year. There were two groups and we lined the walls with our suggestions. A spirited discussion lead to many creative ideas.
Using Newspapers to Tell and Write a Life Story
Using the story of her family and incidents that were not talked about, Mary Celest was able to use the local newspaper to unravel the mystery
. Small town newspapers are often gold mines in terms of details and one doesn’t need to be famous or important to get in the paper. More and more papers are becoming digitized which makes them much easier to search than looking through microfilms. Sometimes the information is inaccurate so it is important to have other collaborating documents. Her handout (in the members section) lists many newspaper sites, magazine articles on newspaper searching as well as books. In addition she added several tips and cautions for your newspaper search.
Book Publishing at Woodneath Library near Liberty, Missouri
For the March meeting we traveled to the Woodneath Library branch of Mid-Continent Library system. Dave Burns, our speaker, is the Press Manager for Mid-Continent Public Library’s Story Center department located at Woodneath. He introduced us to the Express Book Machine which can print a book between 40 and 800 pages in 5 to 7 minutes. If you want more than 10 copies, it will take longer. The cost is $10 per book plus $0.05 per page plus sales tax of 9.1%. The cost of a 50 page book would be $13.64. Your text must be already formatted. Bring the text file in Adobe PDF and a separate cover file in PDF on a flash drive. The cover can be in color, but the text is in black and white. What they cannot do is bind loose-leaf pages, include color illustrations or print copyrighted material. There is a very helpful pamphlet available for free from the library called, “An Introduction to Printing with the Expresso Book Machine.” There are 59 EBMs in the world, 30 in the United States, and only 7 in public libraries. Call for an appointment.
Capturing History Now
by Beth Foulk
The focus of Beth’s presentation was current and more recent family history. The current history includes interviews with living relatives (come prepared with questions and don’t go over an hour), newspaper clippings (wedding announcements, obituaries, graduation events, military news, etc.), church bulletins and newspapers, alma mater publications, Christmas letters and special thank you notes. Legacy.com can help you search for obits (free), but to get the clipping you may have to pay a fee. Government documents, such as, birth, marriage and death certificates are usually only available to the person if still living or the immediate family if recently deceased. Don’t overlook personal records, such as, resumes, passports and driver’s licenses. To store these items purchase an acid free box. Then digitized them.
An Adoptee Journey thru DNA for TRUTH
Carolyn Pooler was adopted as an infant. From an early age, she longed to know the truth about her biological family and to find them. She attended her first support group related to adoption in 1995. She did her first DNA with 23 and Me in 2011, then FTDNA in 2013 and finally in 2015 she did Ancestry DNA. Along the line she discovered a nephew who was also adopted and hunting for his family. She has worked hard with a group to get Missouri to issue birth certificates for adoptees. This year they became available. Her advice to those searching is to research the adoption laws in the state of adoption to see what your options are. She eventually discovered both parents who were deceased by that time, but found aunts and even a grandmother and her siblings.