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Create a Family Newsletter

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Woman with laptop.A fun way to share family history is by creating a family newsletter.  This need not be a complicated and elaborate undertaking. A newsletter is simply a way to keep family members up-to-date with genealogical research that has been done and what is still being searched. It also provides a platform to keep family members knowledgeable of current family events, such an up coming wedding, a move to a new house, a change of job or the birth of a new baby.  The newsletter can also remind family relatives of what additional photos are needed or if a family Bible should be checked for information.

The basics for a family newsletter are formulating what you want to be contained in the newsletter, how often you want to publish it, who will receive copies, how those copies are delivered and of course -- what you will name this newsletter.

Naming the newsletter is really fun.  You can use one or more surnames, titles with ‘News’, ‘Herald’, ‘’Tales’ Events’, ‘Post’, ‘Times‘, ‘Chronicles’ or ‘Bulletin.’ to suggest a few. The ancestral hometown might be an interesting title; such as the ‘The Tales of those Frederick, Maryland Relatives.”

Once you have a name, take the time to figure out what you want to include in each issue. You can always change those topics as time goes on, but do start with at least three topics.   They can be current events such as graduations coming up, reunions, and special achievements by individuals or engagements.

Have a portion of the newsletter relating to the family history research, especially requesting assistance on supplying scanned copies of document or photos. Try to specific to one ancestor in what you need, never try to place all the requests in the first newsletter.

Try to have a section on some of the unusual family stories or events you have uncovered on your ancestors.  One recent example was the rediscovery of some old letters dated 1863.  They had been read originally by the researcher years earlier, but after taking time again to reread the details it revealed that an ancestor may have well attended the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery in November 1863 and heard President Lincoln deliver his famous speech.  It is these types of tidbits that will spark interest in other family members in aiding the research.

Next figure how often you want to publish this newsletter. Never get carried away with starting off on a weekly or monthly basis. Producing a semi-annual newsletter is a good start.  After seeing how successful it is, you can make it four times a year.  Important to remember is not to make it too length. If it is twice a year, four to five pages is good.  If it is four times a year then two to three pages is fine.

A list of which family members are to receive the newsletter is needed. With today’s modern email service; that will be the most effective method to get the letter to those who have email addresses. However, do not leave out those with not email.  Have their regular postal address to send a printed copy. Include on the list any family friends, especially those who have known the various family members for years.  An excellent method to know how well your first newsletter is accepted, is asking all to respond back to you that they got it and their reaction. If you never hear from certain relatives, just drop them from the list.

The easiest method to produce the newsletter is by using a computer word processing program. Check your word processing program such as MS Word, there is usually a family newsletter template to assist in setting up the document. Include photos or images of documents and embedded them in the letter.  Everyone loves seeing photos, so do try to include those along with information of the dates, names and locations with each photo.

Proof your work, have someone else read it, checking for mistakes and you are then ready to save it in PDF. That is ‘Portable Digital Format’ and is the easiest way to send as an attachment to an email and allows relatives with any type of computer to open up the newsletter.  From the PDF document printed copies can be made to send in regular mail.

The main aspect is to have fun and enjoy sharing the discoveries you have made in the family history.

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