PictureFrances Amos (nee Delderfield).
I love to share the stories about our family with my nieces and nephews. The challenge I’ve found is that they don’t always believe they’ll find anything interesting. This year, I was able to visit my brother in California and my other brother in central Manitoba. During both
visits, I was able to share family stories but I was surprised at how the opportunities arose. My sister’s kids had a school assignment about family trees, so there was another chance. 
One of my nephews is very young and I got the chance to babysit one night while I was there. That meant I got to tell a bedtime story. As both of my brothers are extraordinary story-tellers, they don’t always use books so I was feeling quite a bit of pressure! Then I realized I didn’t need to make up a story, I could just use part of our family history. I told him about Jabez and his family, including his daughter Frances (pictured above), and how they used to live in England which was far, far away and then they came to Canada on a big ship that took a long time to sail. I went on about the people but you get the point.

PictureWilfrid George and Adeline May White (nee Edmondson)
The other opportunity came when one of my nieces, now in college, asked me about the people in the photographs they had in their living room. These photos were the ones from our grandparents’ home so they have a bit of age to them. On one hand, it’s fantastic that we all know the images but sometimes that makes it easy to forget to tell the stories about the people in them.
It just so happened that I’d done a bit more research about that family earlier in the year and there were some pretty interesting details to share. As my niece is older, she was interested in more details than had been my 4 year old nephew at story-time. When my niece asked the question, the other kids were also around and we ended up having a really good discussion about these ancestors.
The photos are of the kids’ great-great-grandparents, Wilfrid George White and his wife, Adeline May Edmondson. They appear to be in their 30’s which would put the date of the
photos sometime in the first decade of the 20thcentury. I was able to tie in stories about their lives by referencing places and events that the kids recognize. It seemed like a good idea to relate the people back to something known (in the hopes that the stories would stick!).
When my sister called me a few weeks ago, the kids wanted to know if we’re related to anyone famous. I wracked my brain and then recalled a letter that my grandmother had in her collection from an uncle. He had written a little bit about the history of the family and indicated that we were somehow descended from Bloody Queen Mary. I’ve always found that interesting because if Mary, then why wouldn’t you say Henry VIII? Unfortunately, the writer did not cite any of his sources. A vivid reminder to us all to keep track of our sources!
These days, I think it is much easier to record conversations. Whereas in the past we had letters and tape recorders, today we have recorders in the form of pens that record audio – some of them write AND record. Because I seem to be having more and more conversations about the family history, I picked up the LiveScribe pen so I can record them. That way I’ll have the information, as well as a recording of the people’s voices.
If you want to check out LiveScribe or other recording pens, search for Smart Pens and see if one might be right for you. Here is a link to a review of a variety of Smart Pens, http://digital-pen-review.toptenreviews.com/.

 
PictureStanley and Stanley Herbert Daines during WWI.
My husband’s family has a long line of military service. As a surprise Christmas present, I created a shadow box
commemorating his grandfather, Stanley Herbert Daines. 

A shadow box is an opportunity to tell a
bit of a story about someone’s life. It’s also one way to display memorabilia  that isn’t just photographs. I still recall the images of ancestors from around the house when I was growing up but it didn’t engage me or give me any ideas about the person in the photo.

5 Tips for creating your shadow box
  1. Before you purchase the shadow box, gather everything together and try different layouts on your table. This way you'll get a good idea of the dimensions that will best suit your project.
  2. Decide how you will set the items into your display. Consider glue, thread, adhesive tape, or dimensional adhesives (3-D effect). Whichever you choose, use archival quality materials so the items won't get damaged. In the case of photographs, you could use a copy.
  3. Set items at different depths within the shadow box add to add more visual interest. If some items have a backing (pins or buttons, for example), insert Styrofoam behind the fabric or paper. Make small slices in the fabric to allow the backing through so the fabric doesn't pull.
  4.  Before you put it all together on the back board, MAKE SURE it is facing up! I made this mistake and it was a pain to re-set everything.
  5. Carefully clean the frame and glass to remove dust and debris and make sure it's dry before you put it all together.

In the shadow box I created, I used a heavy fabric over slim Styrofoam and a combination of dimensional adhesives, thread and glue to hold everything together. The photo is set onto contrasting colours of card stock paper that is raised from the background fabric using dimensional adhesive; the rope is threaded on in a co-ordinating colour of thread and I sewed all of the buttons on to the fabric, too, as well as setting them into the Styrofoam. The pins were probably the easiest because they got pinned to the fabric. That said, it was a bit fussy to get everything aligned!
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This was my first layout attempt with one fabric option. There is a spot where I was going to include the details of his military career.
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A sample. This is from Pinterest, citing Bradley's Art and Frame.com
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Finished project on a shelf in my husband's home office. His family's military service is something he's proud of.
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Another sample. This is also from Pinterest, citing thingsorganizedneatly.tumblr.com
Military Collection
 
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!


 
 
PictureMom as a little girl. Note the chair she is sitting on remains in the family. Another chance to share your family's stories!
Last year I got this idea to collect all of our favourite family recipes and put them in a book. There are 4 of us kids, Mom, her sister and a number of grandchildren and the first great-grandchild.
A friend of mine (Spring Cochrane) who is a personal historian told me about Blurb so I checked it out as an option for self-publishing and found it suited my needs so I got to work.
This was going to be Mom's Christmas present and she has most of the family recipes. I went over to her place and just said that I wanted to scan in the recipes so we could all share them with each other.
Little did she know that EVERYONE was in on it. Well, she didn't know until 'someone' included her in the email exchanges. It was still a suprise at Christmas, so all good.
My original plan was to get the recipes scanned in and tell a bit of a story about why each was a favourite. I wanted scanned copies of the recipes because that, to me, is part of the memory and I feel warm and fuzzy when I see the Newfoundland Chicken recipe that we got from Grandma's sister, Aunty Clara, used to make. For some reason, it's more recognizable.
What ended up happening is that all of us started reminiscing about events that had taken place around food. The book became a compilation of memories that were triggered by different meals we'd had growing up.
Memories are priceless and they are one of the very few things that you can take with you. Don't take them with you; find a way to share them.

This is Aunty Clara’s Newfoundland Chicken recipe. This recipe triggers a bunch of
memories almost as if it took place yesterday (not 3 decades  ago!). It`s very faded and difficult to read so I typed over it. The image is of Great-Grandma Jessie Amos feeding the chickens at the family home in Dauphin, Manitoba.  

This is You-tube video showing how you can use Blurb. Note that this is not a promotion and I do not receive any compensation for sharing this.
 
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