Save the memories of your older relatives

  1. Talking to older relatives is a critical early step in genealogical research. Do this as soon as possible. Don’t wait until tomorrow because your relative may suddenly not be there.
  2. Prepare a ring binder with your summaries, charts, and photos to show your progress to your relative
  3. Discussions should be an equal exchange of information and should not be an interrogation.
  4. Establish rapport with family members before interviewing them
  5. Avoid questions that seek a “Yes” or “No” answer
  6. Let your relative talk, do not interrupt them. Their conversation will make them feel comfortable. Learn to listen.
  7. Try to check the information from oral histories – treat information as clues.
  8. Re-visit your relative after you have new and exciting information to show them. Seeing your material may turn on their memory for another story.
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Self-Publishing Family Histories

CreateSpace is down and no longer usable to publish my family histories. All of my previous work was moved to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This created a problem for family histories because Amazon now demanded all published work be available for public sale which removed the privacy from my family histories.

I now use Lulu.com to self-publish my family histories that I want to remain private. Lulu allows us to publish our works using three options: retail, direct, and private. Family histories can remain private using the direct and private option. The private option requires all purchases of the book to go through the author. The direct option creates a private web page for the book that can not be found by search engines and can be accessed only through using the correct web address assigned to the page. I distribute this address to family members by including it on the copyright page of the books that I give or sell privately to family members. These two options are similar to how my family history books were set up on Createspace before the changes made by Amazon.

I had considered publishing on Lulu.com when I first began publishing my family histories but decide to use Createspace because the cost of the books was much lower at Createspace. One of my family histories is 482 pages and would cost $6.63 on Createspace but now costs $15.86 on Lulu. Since I no longer have Createspace as an option, Lulu is currently the best option to publish a family history and preserve its privacy and have convenient ordering for family members in the future.

However, if privacy is not an issue than Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a more cost-effective option.

Save your Family Memories

I write family histories to save the stories, pictures, and family history for my children, grandchildren, and all of my future generations. Family gatherings, especially at Christmas time is a great time to start doing this for your family. Collect what you can, write down what you hear, and save them in a ring binder. Organize them by family and ancestor. I hated writing in high school and college but I love doing this. Please try to start. If we don’t do it, who will?

NEW BOOK – My Polish Grandmother: from Tragedy in Poland to her Rose Garden in America

This book is about my grandmother. When researching her life, I found she endured many challenges that made her the strong person that I admired as I grew up around her. In writing my grandmother’s story, I wanted to go beyond the names, dates, and pictures in the photo albums. She was more than that. It is very important to ask why she did what she did.

This book asks questions about her fears when growing up, immigrating to America, and making her new life. How did she face these fears? How did she overcome them? Although I found no answers, I still found new insights about my grandmother.

Our ancestors were part of the wave of emigration that left Europe with the hope of finding work and a better life. It was not easy to immigrate to America. Our ancestors saw immigration to America as their last chance. They had to overcome obstacles getting from their village to the ships and hardships crossing the Atlantic. Then they had to prove they were worthy to be admitted to the United States. Once here, they faced challenges and discrimination to find work and make the better life they were seeking. My grandmother’s story is different because I tried to show how immigration was different for women.

Remember our ancestors made many sacrifices for us and helped build the United States. They could not appreciate what they were doing because they were working hard and surviving each day. However, what they did each day was important. I believe that our role should be to leave something that will help our children remember them. We need to capture the memories by writing our family history. This story is my attempt to preserve my grandmother’s memory.

Future Problems with Publishing my Family Histories

For the past few years I have used Createspace.com to published family histories that have been well-received by my family. These are self-published, print-on-demand, economical and private. Amazon is changing and my perfect solution for sharing my family histories just got harder to do.

Amazon owns Createspace.com for their print-on-demand books. They also own Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which they used to publish eBooks. Today, they announced that Createspace.com production is being moved to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I also got a second email that informed me that all of my print books would have to be made available on Amazon. This second emailed makes it almost impossible to keep my family histories private and limited distribution to my family members. On Createspace.com I could deselect all channels of distribution which meant only I could order my family history books. This kept non-family members from order the books but now this option will disappear when all of my books are transferred to KDP.

I still recommend organizing our genealogy research into summaries and then into large Word documents. This allows me to be more efficient when doing research, makes it easier to share information with family members, and will probably be saved by family members. However, publishing in book form will increase the chances that it will be saved for future generations.

Amazon is just beginning to implement change and many details are not available. Hopefully, they will allow some way to allow for some books to be private.

Because publishing my family histories for family members is very important, I will continue to look for platforms to do this. Stay tuned for future developments.

Meaning of Genealogy

Genealogy is defined in the dictionary as the study of family histories. Genealogical researchers begin by collecting records and documents for their ancestors. This step is the easy part of genealogy. However, many researchers never get beyond this initial step.

As I began compiling the information for my ancestors, I realized that family histories are more than piles of documents and charts with names and dates. Our family histories are made up of the stories that can be found in the oral histories, the pictures and the documents. I found that I became more excited about my ancestors as I discovered that the pattern in the information. I also discovered that my initial view of my family changed quickly as the information and stories flowed from the documents. As more information was found, my family history gave me a greater closeness to my ancestors and their lives.

Identifying who, what and where that were represented in family photo albums will pass along the memories that my ancestors tried to capture in these photos. Interpreting the facts shown on the various documents and explaining their relationship in the lives of my ancestors brought my pages to life. This was important because only a few people enjoy doing the research but most family members enjoy reading the stories. Our task is to find a way to save our family history in a format that can be enjoyed by most family members.

You may find it hard to believe that your family history is important to save. You should consider that all of our immigrant ancestors contributed to America’s history and their stories should be saved for our grandchildren. The farmers and the factory workers contributed their efforts to the growth of America alongside all of the names listed in the history books. Our family histories should give clues of their roles and this will help us understand our roots.

Start now to write a family history. Do not procrastinate. I also find it difficult to write. However, I got past my fear of writing by compiling the information into summaries for each ancestor that I was researching.

Don’t be afraid to begin. Concentrate on finding one story and then another by doing the research. Finding the small pieces will make the task easier and will be fun. Eventually, the small pieces will begin to fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and as the pieces are added the overall story that is your family history will eventually appear.

A family history can be a great treasure to you, your family and future generations. It can help us understand our heritage both here in the U.S. and where our ancestors came from. It lets us gain knowledge and appreciation for our ancestors and their lives.

Do it now!

 

 

Naturalization of Our Ancestors: establishing our roots in America

The naturalization of our ancestors establishes our family roots in America. They were part of the wave of emigration that left Europe with the hope of finding work and a better life. They saw immigration to America as their last chance.

Our lives would be much different if they did not endure the challenges of immigration to America. Do not underestimate their contributions. They may have left us some material wealth, but the most important contribution they left is their family and their role in the factories and farms of the United States. Their lives were building blocks in the growth of their new country. Remember that they made many sacrifices for us and their daily work helped build the United States.

I believe that our role should be to leave something that will help our children remember them.

Research and record the details of their journey to arrival and naturalization. It is an important part of your heritage. Capture the memories by writing your family history. If not you, who will do it?