This week, I put into the mail copies of a narrative story of my Geiszler and Zumstein families. I created this in several stages.
First, I used RootsMagic to organize my resource facts and to create notes detailing the events in my ancestors lives. Then I used the program's Narrative Report form to create an organized descendant report with the facts about each person in sentence format. I felt the format didn't flow exactly as I wished, so I then copied and pasted the report (from an exported PDF file, as the RTF function doesn't really work on the program) into a text document (I use Open Office).
Unfortunately, the citations were no longer linked well, so I learned how to make end notes for each section of the family. It was time consuming to re-establish links and cross-references but so worth it. I created a table of contents (very easy if you have used pre-formatted headers for your titles). Eventually I'll make an index, but it's not needed at this time.
The next thing I did was attempt to make each person's biographical sketch read more like a story rather than genealogical facts in sentences. Having the notes feature from RootsMagic insert the information made this fairly smooth. Still it was time consuming, but certainly makes for a better read.
Finally, I went through and inserted a photo for each family member, if I had one. Sometimes I had to use a handwriting sample because that's all I have from that relative.
So now what? Well, these research files are certainly in need of more information, more photos, and more editing. However, now I can send these 'books' to different relative connections. I'd prefer to send it electronically as one printing has 50+ pages. However, not all of my relative connections have e-mail accounts.
Why do this work? The hope and intent is this: generate more interest in my research. For years I've contacted different family members and they're like, "what do you want?" I share a group sheet, a list of questions, etc., and it's met with resistance or ignored completely. However, when I share stories of what I have, then it opens the doors for more communication. I am familiar with how exciting a family tree or a family bible listing is to genealogists. However, many of my family members aren't so excited. However, when they read that George Geiszler was a railroader and his grandson Bob loved making model trains because they reminded him of his grandfather, that's tangible and exciting.
So... the packages will go in the mail and I'll wait patiently for replies from those distant relatives. Perhaps they'll say, "Aww, that's nice" and then throw the pages in the trash. That's fine. It only cost me postage and printing of loose papers. Others will say, "Hey you got such and such wrong," and proceed to correct my mistakes. Others might say, "I have more information on ____ person. Now that I know what you're doing, I'll send you a packet for your use."
So... I'm sharing my treasure chest of information with my families. I still have the Long and Brown lines to print and mail. I hope that I'll receive a treasure chest discovery in the future. I'll keep you posted.
Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.