Creating a Family History in 2018
Collect information on dates of birth, dates of marriage, dates of death, grave sites for your family. If you have them, add service records, medical information, and schools and churches attended.
If you have information on your DNA profile, consider carefully whether you want to share it. If so, you might include a summary of this information in your family history.
Were there any surprises? Does the testing method affect the results?
One of the most popular books for most non-professionals is a family history. Putting together a simple book that can be shared with your family members can be fun but it is also a lot of work.
Involving your kids, if you have any, can turn this into a family activity. Children and teens alike might like drawing family pets or houses where they’ve lived. Some will warm to the idea of self-portraits. Of course, the trusty cell phone can help them take pictures to include.
At some point, you can help them create a family tree. This can be helpful, but be aware that difficult issues can arise. Think of how each family member will react to the information included: divorces, deceased infants, suicides, adoptions, and other events may not be known by everyone who will see this information.
I will post this each month as a reminder to be cautious about information you share. Better safe than sorry!
Consider interviewing relatives, too; their stories are often treasures. Ask them for copies of old photographs of people and places. Don’t limit this to family. One of the things that makes these histories so interesting is pictures of friends, places of worship, schools, and favorite vacation spots.
I will be posting a suggestion each month for an activity that will help you focus your efforts. I think most of these can be done in less than four hours a month. You can spend more time if your interest is piqued.
Commitment to Your Art
Make a habit of looking for opportunities to perform, publish, and exhibit. This is an excellent task for those times when creative inspiration is in short supply.
Reading professional journals in your field is essential. Arts Councils often publish a list of opportunities in their area. So do some galleries and publishers. Try to read at least one newsletter or journal each week. Keep an eye on local art newspapers and the larger newspapers’ events sections, too.
Add possible venues to a some kind of list. Include enough information to find the listing again. I use Duotrope, an online service for writers, for my writing submissions. I add art possibilities to my calendar with a one-month-in-advance reminder to prepare the work for entry. If I submit a story or enter artwork, I put the notification-of-acceptance date in my calendar. This way, I know when I should expect a response.
“I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”
(Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov)
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