I've been diving in to my own family tree again. Something I don't always have time for when I'm busy doing client work! It's been quite fascinating and I managed to gather quite a few details about Dad's family.
I feel very fortunate that my family is interested in the research results. Although not everyone wants to do it themselves, at least there are many people with whom I can share my findings!
This leads me to wonder how to disseminate the information to lots of people. Dad's family is quite extensive. I just need to find a good, safe way to get it out there. I used Facebook to post one of the stories I found, but that just isn't a reliable storage and it certainly isn't long-term.
In a recent conversation, one of the other members of the Alberta Family Histories Society was telling me about on-line storage that can be used for posthumous storage of our collections. All it requires is other family members having access to the login name and password.
I did a bit of exploring and so far most of what I'm finding relates to uploading family trees for public and/or private access. I like this for a start. There's a decent article on About.com by Kimberly Powell that provides descriptions and links to 10 possibilities. Here is a link to the article, http://genealogy.about.com/od/publishing/tp/web_sites.htm
My decision on which one to use will be based on which one will protect our privacy IF we decide to share photos and details about living family members; cost; and protection of the data (i.e. can anyone change it). Regarding the latter, the longer I do research, the more I realize the importance of sources and citations. I don't want the reliability of the collection to be lost by well-intentioned family members. As I'm writing this last sentence, I realize it sounds harsh and kind of uppity, but in my own defence, I've spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on my family tree and I definitely am protective!
 
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Why? Why would I need to do all that typing when I’ve got all this paper? That
might be the question you’re asking yourself. The answer is pretty simple when
you’re considering how to share your bounty with others. Having your information
stored electronically makes it so easy to share. There are other reasons, too,
not the least of which is ease of use and the organizational benefits, but I’m
concentrating on why it’s so handy for sharing.

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Once your information is stored electronically, there is so much you can do with
it to share with others. I think the most common thing that people think of is
charts of family trees. Most of us have seen the tree that starts with a single
name at the top or bottom of the page and then branch out to the parents,
grandparents, etc, etc. While these can be really lovely compositions, the
amount of information included generally relates to how much room there is on
the page. Depending on the genealogy software you use, these can be created
right at your computer. From there, you can print the chart or send it out
electronically to your family. I created a 6’x4’ chart for a client here in
Calgary and took it to a local printing company. The cost was very reasonable
and we were all thrilled with how it turned out.

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You can also include images in your databases which is truly amazing. If you
choose, you could include images of the people on your tree. If you’re not
printing out a family tree, maybe you want to create a report about a person and
his or her descendants, including the details
of their lives and pictures
accrued during their lifetimes. Once this information is in your database, the
options for creating and sharing are profound.

PictureAn iPad showing a Heredis screen shot.
Another way to share is using Apps available for your iPhone, iPad or tablet,
etc. I’ve tried 2 so far. GedView,
which costs about $5 ($3.99 US when I
last checked) and Heredis, which is free.

I like them
both. I love the fact that I can pop my iPad in my purse and be able to head
over to Mom’s to show here what I’ve found. A great side-benefit of the visit is
that quite often it jogs her memory and I hear all these stories. That leads me
into a whole new blog about LiveScribe, but I’ll save that for another day!
 
A final note... Once you have added your information into your database, it
can serve as a back-up for your paper
records. Of course, as with anything
stored electronically, remember to back up your work and store the back-up
off-site.

 
I worry about protecting the documents and photographs in my collection. At any given point in time, we hear about natural disasters that wipe out people’s homes and belongings. We all put a lot of effort into our family histories and want to avoid the pain of losing it! Digitizing is an excellent back-up tool and is also a great option for sharing.

 I’m thinking about this today because of a comment I read on-line this morning wondering about the value of digitizing records. In the back of my mind is the flooding we experienced here in southern Alberta last month - the worst in our recorded history. Downtown Calgary, an oil and gas city of well over a million people was shut down for over a week because the water threaded its way through the streets and buildings. Basements, where, let’s face it, many of us store our items, were flooded to the ceilings. If it isn’t water, maybe it’s a twister or a hurricane. So what can we do to protect our precious records and documents? 
 
Digitizing is one very clear option. It is easily accessible and can be relatively inexpensive and anyone can do it. Scanning documents and images is a pretty straightforward process. All you need is a computer and a scanner. Sometimes, all you need is the scanner! There are  companies who will do it for you if you don’t want or are unable to scan it yourself. 
 
Once you’ve got your digital collection, there are quite a few options for sharing it. Cloud storage has become increasingly popular and ranges from free to nominal fees depending on how much space you need. You can store the media on CDs or DVDs burned from your
computer. If this is your preferred method, then remember to store it somewhere else! An option I’ve just started hearing about gives clients the option to store their records on-line in Cloud Storage and include an option for heirs to inherit access to it. 
 
Future Access to Your Records
 
Something to consider when relying on electronic storage options is will you be able to access the materials in future years or decades? Paper has a proven track record of lasting for millennia. On the other hand, if you use a computer you know that the technology changes every couple of years and pretty soon something you stored 15 years ago is gone because there is no software and/or hardware to retrieve the information stored. 3½” disks are still around but do you see any drives to read them?
 
The other side of this coin is the information stored on the media. The software changes pretty regularly, too. I’ve got files stored in QuattroPro from 15 years ago that I just can’t open.
The contents are essentially gone. What I have noticed though, is that some file formats that are read by many software programs do seem to remain accessible for decades. I am thinking of txt, pdf, tif, jpg, bmp as specific examples. I think because these formats are generic, they tend to stick around longer. Text (txt) files don’t have any formatting so are readable by many programs.  Used by a variety of programs, pdf files, too, are (Adobe and NitroPro, for example) and are usually like snapshots of text. The rest are image files like those that you get from a digital camera or your phone. 
 
For genealogists, there is a very important file type, GEDCom. This is like a .txt file for genealogy software and it allows us to store our genealogy data from one software program into a format that can be opened up by other genealogy programs. If you’re using an iPad or
tablet, then you can download Apps to read GEDComs from your computer. This is a great tool if you’re out with family and want to show them your work!


 
 
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Photos are wonderful representations of important people and events in our lives. I have loads of my own, those inherited from other family members, and my husband's. The problem I've run into is how to display them. I mean, there are so many! I don't have that much shelf space. I do, however, have some wall space.
I took a lot of the inherited photos in the amazing frames and put them on a staircase wall. It was just standing there - a full two stories of blank space. Now we have the opportunity to look every time we go up or down the stairs.
There are a few things I would do differently. First, I would have painted the wall BEFORE putting all of them up. I would also like to get a better light fixture. All-in-all I am satisfied with the outcome.
If you don't want a lot of holes in the wall, you can install a rod and use ribbon to hang the the frames. You get the benefit of fewer holes and you can colour co-ordinate the ribbon to your decor. I did this in one home and just stapled the ribbon to the frames then slid them onto the rod. It worked really well and you can swap out the photos and/or frames whenever you want.

Other ideas I found on Pinterest

 
PictureThe final project - all completed.
This is a prized piece of art and is roughly 20"x26". It represents about 400 years of our family's history and covers a cabin in the woods in late 19th century Manitoba to the shores of Cornwall, England in the 1600's.
When I was growing up, I loved to hear the story of how Grandma's grandparents met. John Erwin Moss Firby saw a group of girls cutting through the cemetery and told his friends he  was going to marry "the little dark-eyed girl." Around 1880, he did marry Jessie Nankivell. After they wed, he took her to his homestead in Woodlands, Manitoba where they started their family.

PictureA photocopy from Grandma's Nankivell collection.
Grandma was able to  connect with others tracing the Nankivell family and received a copy of the document (left). James Nankivell and Edith Nankivell were two people who provided a lot of insight into her reseach and I believe it was one of them who gave her this page.
Grandma's uncle, Jim Nankivell, wrote a letter in 1936 that outlined the history of the Nankivell family and it matches the details in the document. One other thing he mentions: Nankivell is Cornish for Valley of the Wild Horses. I don't know if it's true but my teenage imagination was enthralled. This story had it all: romance, cemeteries and horses!

PictureThe sculpture created from a photocopied page (see above).
This is an example of how a story can be brought to life in a single piece so that it can be discussed and shared with the whole family.
Geoff Sandhurst is a wonderful metal sculpture artist. In 1994, I took a copy of the page (see above) and asked him if he could recreate the fist holding the anchor. He did an incredible job as you can see!
You can check out more of Geoff's artwork at, http://sandhurstsculpture.blogspot.ca/.
I am also very grateful to Felicia at the Michael's on Deerfoot Trail who pulled together my vague ideas and a beautiful piece of art and then created a beautiful family heirloom.

 
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I deeply enjoy doing genealogical and historical research and I believe that information is for sharing. It turns out, though, that not everyone is happy to read pages and pages of facts. How then do we  get our family stories across in a way that is easily accessible?
I've come to realize that sharing the family tree needs to be in some format other than a binder (electronic or paper). That isn't because there isn't value in a binder full of information but it's unlikely that any anyone will (a) pick it up from the bookshelf, or (b) read it. Why should they, really? It's a bunch of pages about people they never knew. And that's the crux of the matter. I want the next generations to get to know those who came before them.
When I sat down to think about how I share the information. I thought about the binders I have in my own collection that, while I treasure I rarely look at. That got me thinking about other ways I might display our history. It turns out that I've already done a few different things. My future blogs are going to describe my projects, and I'll be sure to include inspirations and ideas from others, too. There are so many ways to create family memories and heirlooms! Look for the Memories in Food cookbook I made for Mom last Christmas and the Nankivell Coat of Arms commissioned metal sculpture in the next couple of weeks.
Thank you for stopping by my site and spending some time with me!
~Laura