Creating a Family History in 2018
Create a family tree. There are many templates available online. Others can be purchased in print, too. This is a great project with children. Go back a few generations. Most people can put together the current generation, parents, and grandparents without too much research. Great grandparents may be able to share some information further back.
This may be a good time to start recording stories you hear. A recording is easiest; taking notes can work as well. If you plan to share this on digital media, a video recording is especially nice.
If you have time, consider writing a paragraph about important historical events and how they affected your family. Did they serve in the military during any conflicts? Write something about that conflict. Were any firefighters or law enforcement officers? What were their experiences? Look for good events as well as tragedies. Perspective is important.
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
Learn to copyright, patent, and trademark your work. Do this for all your work, even if you have to go into your past records and create multiple files to do so.
You own the copyright to your works from the date of creation. It isn’t necessary to register your copyrights but it is extremely wise to do so. Why? If your work is used without your permission, registration is the most effective way to prove that you created it and when. Costs vary but the Library of Congress offers economical ways to go on record.
If you haven’t looked at their website recently, consider spending an hour or so there to learn about all the services they provide.
You may want to register with R. R. Bowker. Professionals can register their names and works with Bowker’s varied services to help identify their names and works. For instance, John Joe Smith from Philadelphia won’t be confused with John Joe Smith from London. As scholarship becomes more globally accessible, this becomes more of an issue for authors, artists, scientists, and others who create ideas or products. It can also serve as a link between specific work and a specific creator.
They can provide publishers with ISBNs, apps for titles, and other marketing tools.
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”