The Family History Help & Product Review Newsletter
Toys & Inspiration for Family Historians
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to this issue of Family History Help &
Product Review Newsletter. I hope that it find you
in good health and spirits.
I apologize for the length of time, that has passed,
between the last issue of this newsletter and this one. As some of
you know, I spent most of the last four months in Afghanistan. I
kept very busy and didn't have much extra time, except to answer e-mails
from those who wrote me.
The Afghan people are a very proud people and have
suffered much over the decades. I spent my time in the northeastern part
and it was, to my surprise, quite beautiful. The mountains in
Bagram Afghanistan provide a 360 degree panoramic view.
Hoping you can help...
On another note, I have put together a quick
questionnaire that I sure wish you'd take 30 seconds to complete.
I have never conducted one of these for our newsletter community and the
results will be very helpful to me in compiling future editions of this
What's really cool about it, though, is that you
will be able to see the results in real time also. Look
for more information at the bottom of this newsletter or click the link
below to take the survey....it will take you about 30 seconds.
I wish to especially welcome all of our newest subscribers. I am Michael Boyter, publisher of this
newsletter. Your input, feedback and suggestions are always welcome.
Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have another exciting issue for you,
... before you dig in -- please do your friends and
family a favor and forward them a copy of
this newsletter/e-mail or send them this link so they can
1. Create a Family
Calendar complete with pictures and family dates and events.
2. Document this past year by gathering the
family stories, pictures, videos and documents and put them on a
3. Give someone the gift of world-class
journaling software with The
4, Give the gift of your lifetime memories
to your children
5. Getting a new video camera? Learn to turn your
home videos to DVD
News and Happenings
"Seniors & Veterans
Personal Histories" a Non-Profit Organization in Olathe Colorado to
begin Helping Nursing Home Residents Preserve Their Life
Gary Burnett, his wife and others in his local
community of Olathe Colorado have begun a new non-profit
organization they call "Seniors & Veterans Personal
After coordinating with The Library of Congress (U.S.)
and the National Folklore Society, they plan to work closely with
nursing homes within a thirty mile radius of their community.
Volunteers will interview seniors and transcribe their memories,
providing a more permanent record of the lives lived of these
Even keeping it within a relatively small 30 mile
radius, this is quite an undertaking for Gary and his
organization. I applaud his efforts and have donated copies of my life
story workbook "Memorygrabber"
to help the project get off the ground.
Here is some of the letter
that I received from Gary...
"First of all a bit of a history about my project.
I live in a small town that has a large population of older people and
it has been my responsibility to call on nursing homes and visit some of
them. I was saddened at some of their passing and
especially coming to realization that they passed on without much
a of a record of their life.
Upon doing research me and several people decided to try
and help them with a personal history. What we found out was most did
not know much about the computer and did not feel they could write a
personal history. So we offered our services and did not feel right to
charge them. We are now in the process of making this a non-profit
organization and calling it "Seniors & Veterans Personal
Histories" with the object of offering personal histories for free.
We have contacted the "Saints at War" and the Library of
Congress to become affiliated with their projects."
If you live near Olathe Colorado, or if you are be
interested in helping in some way, please contact Gary by CLICKING
In This Issue....
New Product: Absolutely
Family - a guide to editing and publishing a family newsletter
Updated: The Family
History Jumpstart e-book is updated and free to download
and Family Year in Review
A Quick Reader Questionnaire
- Win free stuff!
be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the
only end of life."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Journaling Software -
Here to download
Family Picture Calendar - Click
Here to download
Updated - Family History
Family History Jumpstart e-book has been newly updated and converted
into a format that is ALSO viewable by Mac users. Family History
Jumpstart is a collection of inspirational and how to family
history articles and tips.
Some of the sections include:
Please pass a copy of Family History Jumpstart on to
friends and family. They will enjoy reading this inspirational
e-book, designed to bring families closer
History Jumpstart costs you nothing and can be downloaded by clicking
To view Family History Jumpstart you need the fre* Adobe
Acrobat Reader. If you need this program, you can get it at this link:
most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their
A Guide to
Editing and Publishing a Family Newsletter
Note from Michael: It was more
than a year ago that I first came across Jeanne Nelson's book
"Absolute Family". I read it through during one sit
down. It was that informative and easy to read! I give
Absolutely Family an A+.
Be sure to
fill out the questionnaire near the end of this newsletter to have a
chance of winning a free copy of Absolutely Family
HERE to Read a Sample Chapter
Family History is usually about
picking up clues from the past, but keeping a family newsletter is about
capturing family history right as it happens!
Family newsletters are also one of
the greatest ways for family lore to be passed down from the older
generation to the younger.
I asked Jeanne Nelson to tell you a bit more
about Absolutely Family - A Guide to Editing and Publishing a Family
Newsletter. What follows is a brief
interview that I conducted with Jeanne a few weeks ago. Don't miss
To begin, Jeanne, would you tell a little bit about yourself,
background, business and how long you've been helping others with their
Well, Michael, I am trained as and worked for many years as a social
worker. Then, for many more years, I was a mom. I have spent over 20
years researching my family history in Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois,
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland and England. My latest incarnation has
been as a writer and speaker on genealogy topics.
You might think that there is quite a disparity between a career as a
social worker and that of a genealogy writer, but social work emphasizes
the importance of understanding your own background and family dynamics
and it facilitates good family communication, all of which are important
in the study of genealogy. I have been writing and speaking on the topic
of family newsletters since 1998.
You are the author of the very impressive book, Absolutely Family.
If you would, tell a little about that book and what it was designed to
I have published a family newsletter for my own family for many
years. I started it mainly to keep my extended family in touch, but I
had a lot of genealogy information that I wanted to get out to family
and this was a great medium for doing so. I soon discovered, however,
that a family newsletter was much, much more than that. It was a
fantastic way to gather, disseminate, and preserve family history
information, as well as a way to build extended family
I found that very little had been written on the use of family
newsletters in the genealogy literature, so I decided to write a book on
the topic. I hoped that ABSOLUTELY FAMILY!--A GUIDE TO EDITING
PUBLISHING A FAMILY NEWSLETTER would serve to advocate for the use of
family newsletters by genealogists, as well as give people a
non-technical blueprint for what works in family publishing. I included
a lot of ideas of neat things to include in one’s own family
Many of these ideas were suggested to me by my own creative extended
family. I also wanted to impart some secrets about organizing a family
newsletter that make publishing a family newsletter easier.
How can a family newsletter bring families closer together?
Two of the most important ways are (1) to keep family abreast of
the details of each others’ lives and (2) to educate us and remind us
of the many things we hold in common, including our shared family
history and our family pride.
It is often hard to feel close with a family member if you don’t
know what is going on in his life—the big ups and downs, as well as
the small ones. We share those details with each other in our family
news section, as well as family photos and creative projects such as
poetry and drawings by family members.
The family history section is a place for family members (often the
elders in the family) to share their memories of a person, place, or
event in our family’s history. For example, because of these articles,
my whole family now knows what my great-grandfather’s personality was
like, even though most of us have never met him.
I include historical articles that set a context for understanding
the struggles our ancestors must have faced, such as a description of
the conditions that our immigrant ancestors faced on a passenger ship in
their crossing of the Atlantic from Sweden. It is sometimes easy to
loose sight of the fact that we aren’t the only ones who have faced
hardship in our lives, and stories about our ancestors put it all into
We can come away from reading about them with a shared family pride.
As a matter of fact, I received a note from a cousin of mine who said
that when “…I read our family newsletter, I have a tremendously warm
feeling of closeness for the entire family. If pride is a sin, I’m
guilty as H____”
With today's technology, do you still recommend publishing a paper
newsletter (versus digital)? Pro and con of each method?
There are some real advantages to publishing a family newsletter
electronically, either on a web site or by sending it via email. The two
biggest advantages are (1) the savings to you in the time it takes to
produce and mail the newsletter and (2) the savings in money to copy and
mail it. Postage and copying costs are the biggest expenses in producing
a paper family newsletter.
That said, I am a very strong advocate of publishing a paper
newsletter for a number or reasons. (1) Not everyone in the family is as
computer-savvy as you, and may not even own a computer, let alone have a
connection to the Internet.
This is particularly true of the older members of the family, key
sources of information for your family history articles. (2) A quality
newsletter produced on quality paper will last for generations. What you
are producing, even in the “current news” section of your
newsletter, is a running account of your family’s history, recent
though it may be.
Fifty or 100 years from now, family descendants can refer to your
family’s newsletter and know precisely in what city Cousin Joe was
married and refer to those county records to confirm their information
or what your daily life was like. How I would have loved to have had
that kind of information on my great-grandparents' lives!
You want this information to last for posterity. I am told that
electronic data on a floppy disk or CD will not last more than 10 or 20
years. Members of my family are collecting our newsletters in binders
for their children and their children’s children. I know of family
newsletter publishers who deposit copies of their family newsletters in
libraries or historical societies in communities where their family is
centered, so that future researchers will be able to find them.
Could you tell about a rewarding moment you've experienced because
of your own family's newsletter?
It’s hard to focus on only one rewarding moment—there have been
so many! Each time a family member calls to ask why they haven’t
received their latest issue yet is a reward. They’re telling me that
they’re really looking forward to reading it and can’t wait! Each
time a family member says “I didn’t know that!” about something
they have learned about our family history, I am rewarded. It’s
Perhaps one of the most graphic moments that I have been thankful for
in publishing our family newsletter was after I published several
articles about my uncle’s recollections of his service in the military
during World War II. I learned that he was about to have surgery, so I
called him to wish him well and we made plans for further articles about
I received a call a few days later that he had died on the operating
table. Though I regretted that we would not be able to learn more about
his experiences, I was so thankful that we were able to preserve those
stories of his that we had while he was still alive.
My family has been very supportive in providing me with material and
helpful feedback for all our family newsletters, which is a reward in
For someone interested in starting their own family newsletter,
how can they get started?
I would suggest that they decide on a branch of the family on which
they would like to focus their publication and contact family members to
see if there is an interest. They should try to involve as many family
members as possible in the writing of the material, not only to make the
workload easier, but to provide a richer, more multifaceted
There are a number of books on family newsletter publishing,
including my own, that one can study. However, the important thing is
not that they wait to become an expert on the topic before beginning
publication. You learn by doing, so after doing a little reading on the
topic, dig in and start publishing. You won’t regret it!
How does someone order a copy of your book, Absolutely Family?
My book is available in both e-book and paperback versions at our
web site at http://absolutelyfamily.homestead.com/
. The paperback version can also be ordered through http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
, as well as at a number of smaller genealogy book stores. And of
course, if your public library does not carry it, you can always ask
them to order it! ;o)
if you have a question for Jeanne or wish to contact her
the midst of change we find the seeds for the future."
Personal and Family
Year in Review
By Michael R. Boyter
As another year draws to an end, it is time to
reflect and preserve the individual and family memories of the past
Things not written down or recorded are often
forgotten. This is a fact.
Keeping family memories and stories alive is very
important to aid in the cohesiveness of family and it can be a very
rewarding experience to look back to see where we were and how we’ve
grown over the past year. (Important Note: Its not necessary to record
everything, of course What
you choose to record is totally up to you.)
Ideally we’d all keep a daily, weekly or monthly
journal throughout the year, but often times, we don’t keep up with
one. So its time for a little catch up work. Here are some quick ideas
and tips for reviewing the events in your life from the past year.
Breaking down the year by month, season or major
milestones and/or events.
big changes in your health occurred this year? If this category
doesn’t jog your memory; it is probably a good thing.
Prescriptions: Anything newly prescribed to you
this year? What was it
Again, this is only a suggestion to spark your memory of things
that happened over the past year. Some will consider this too
private and that is fine.
about changes and highlights in your career.
Tell about awards won, promotions received or interesting
happenings around the office or on the job.
about “This time a year ago…”
newborns this year?
Those that have passed
Write about those who’ve passed away this year.
Include family, friends and, if there was a well-known individual
(someone famous) that also passed, tell about them as well if that
person meant anything to you.
Travel and Residences:
Where did you travel to this year?
Who did you travel to see? Who in the family moved closer or
farther away? Why did they
or you move this year?
List your major purchases throughout the year.
What prompted these purchases? Take a look in your wallet or
purse to dig up old receipts. Use
copies of old checks, or an onlinebank ledger/statement to remind you of
where you went and what you did.
Children: Don’t forget your children.
What were some of the milestones in their lives this past year?
Scan young children’s drawings and art projects
– They draw so many and it is hard to keep them all…and even harder
to throw them away. Select
the best and scan them and save
Review your pictures taken and video shot during
the last year. Describe the events seen in the pictures and events. For
example, birthday parties, events at school with the kids etc..
Look for scribbled-in writing on your wall or desk
calendar. Don’t throw it
away until you check to see what you’ve written on it.
Get with other members of your family. See
what they remember. Don't think you have to do it all by
yourself. These are just ideas and
suggestions. Use them to jog
your memory and tailor them to your individual circumstance.
Having a record of each year will, in the end, prove to be a very
valuable compilation of family happenings and history.
If you can't
remember what you had for breakfast 7 days ago, how will you remember
what you and the family did 20 years ago?
You will cherish looking back at the years…but only if you put the effort in now to preserve the
Time marches on and the years blur together. Time
is no friend to the procrastinating historian!
~~~~~~ You are granted permission to use the above
article in your online or offline publications and/or web site.
You must however include the following byline.
Copyright 2004 - Michael R. Boyter runs the www.FamilyHistoryProducts.com
website and is the creator of the fill-in-the-blank life story workbook
Memorygrabber. "Tools and Toys for the Family Historian in Us
HERE to take my real quick reader survey!
Why you want to take this quick
1. You have a chance to win one of three free copies
of Jeanne's Absolutely Family e-book on publishing a family newsletter
2. It will take you only 30 seconds
3. It will really help me in publishing future issues of
4. You will get to see the RESULTS. See how others have
answered and who your fellow subscribers are!
Here to begin the 30 second questionnaire
Tools & Toys for
the Family Historian
There is more than one way to preserve your family
history/stories. At FamilyHistoryProducts.com, I am continually adding
new "tools and toys" to help you get the job done. My
objective is to make the information gathering process easier, quicker
and much more enjoyable!
Compile all of your family history documents into an easy to create
family history CD... great for distributing to family and friends.
Considered, by many, to be the best journal writing
software available anywhere. Combine your typed text, family
pictures, sound to a highly organized way to gather together your
personal and family memories. Try it F*ree for 45 days! Memorygrabber is built-in to this newest version!.
- An unrivaled fill-in-the-answer life story workbook and life story
interview "script". Nearly 900 memory prompts, lists,
activities and web resources. Trial Download
Video DVD Cookbook - Turn those dusty family video tapes into a brilliant family DVD library.
Picture Calendar - Get rid of those generic calendars on
your wall and replace it with your "official" family calendar.
Distribute to family via e-mail. Trial Download
They'll Need to Know - Record and preserve vital information
your family will need to know, when you aren't there to give it to them.
that's all for this issue of the newsletter. Please submit comments,
feedback and suggestion to email@example.com
Until next time, keep preserving those memories,
because it's work that needs to be done, it's enjoyable and above all
else, it's worth it!
I wish you and your family the best.
Michael R. Boyter,
remember to forward this e-mail to anyone you know that values the
family and the memories we create.