There are so many ways for us to share our photographs. The problem with photos is that there are never enough to go to everyone who wants them (or who may want them in the future!) and they can cost a lot to print. Here are 5 ways my family has used to share our image
collections electronically.

1. Picasa Web Albums www.picasaweb.google.com
I’ve got a variety of my own albums on Picasa. It’s like having an electronic photo album that can be shared with whomever I want. My best friend, Patty, and I took a trip to England a number of years ago and we each took about a billion photos with our cameras. When we got back to our respective homes we both wanted a complete set. What I really appreciate about Picasa is that I can upload and organize my photos and add in descriptions or titles. The
album can be shared by a url address that I can email, or I can just keep them for myself. An added benefit is that I have a backup of my photos just in case something happened to my computer.

2. A family web site
This is a new one for me. A friend and colleague told me that she’s created a web site for her family. I love the idea and have started one for my own family. In case you’re my family and you’re reading this, it isn’t live yet! We will be able to communicate with each other, share family stories and photographs. The site is password  protected so no-one without a
password will be able to access it. I am using www.Weebly.com to create the site. The
domain name (URL) cost me about ten bucks for the year. The downside is that, as
easy as I find Weebly to use, there is still a learning curve and it’s taking a while to upload the photo albums. The reason I’m using this instead of Picasa or Tumblr is that I want to encourage dialogue and photo sharing between families. As we have about 4 generations of computer-savvy aunts, uncles and cousins, this seems like the way to go.
3. Tumblr.com
My sister-in-law uses www.tumblr.com and it’s a great way to share stories and images. She sent us the link and told us the password for the site. We are spread out over Canada and the U.S. and with busy lives, it isn’t always easy to keep in touch by phone. This lets us check in to see what the family is up to.
4. eBooks
Our family has a variety of personal books that we’ve created to share photos, recipes and family stories. Although I love this option, it is limiting in that you still only have a finite number of copies. I did a recipe book last year and printed a copy for each family. Each family has growing children who will hopefully someday want a copy. Rather than print another copy of the book, the program I used provided me with a pdf version of the book that I can share as many times as I want. The one I used was available from www.Blurb.com
5. DropBox.com
On a bit of different note, www.DropBox.com is more of a file-sharing option using cloud storage. Unlike the other options, this one doesn’t have an option for creating albums and such. On the other hand, I love it for just sharing photos between friends and family. You create a folder and then invite others to join. You are not required to share folders, but you can. I’ve used this to scan and share with family members  some of the photos I’ve got from
Grandma. You should be careful, though, when copying files to DropBox folders. Because it sets up like a folder on your hard drive, you need to make sure to copy and not move the files. Once they are in the folder and you’ve invited others to it, they have equal access and could delete or move your images, too. On the positive side, when my last laptop started dying, I was able to back it up to DropBox and subsequently move all my files to the new one.  

You will note that I have not included Facebook. While I do sometimes share photos and I certainly like to look at them, I have not reached a comfort level with FaceBook’s policies. That may be because they do seem to change with some regularity. I’ve also heard rumours that once an image is posted on FB, they then have the right to use the photos as they deem fit. I don’t know if it’s true but the possibility gives me pause for thought. Also, unless you are pretty comfortable updating the settings, you may be sharing your photos with the global community and not just your family!

 
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/.

 
I'll admit it. My memory for dates is terrible. Tell me a story about your life and I'll probably remember it for decades but do not ask me to remember your birthday or anniversary.

One tool I use is a perpetual calendar. It's hanging on my office wall so I see it every day. The only slight snag is I still have to turn the page at the beginning of the month.
I like this option because I just use the same calendar year after year. I plan on creating one for family members that references all of our birthdates and anniversaries, including the year of the event. This will be a gift (so everyone act surprised when you open your Christmas presents!)

There are all kinds of options for making your own calendar if you want something specific to the current (or next) calendar year. I have not yet found a template for a perpetual calendar but it should be simple enough to create in Word or in Excel and then take it in to an office supply store to get it printed and bound.

I really like the practice of creating calendars for specific years, too. They provide a snapshot in time. My sister has created them in past years and I've kept them as pseud0-photo albums showing the growth of the family and where they live.

Another example of an annual calendar is in the form of fund-raisers. Below is an example of a hockey fund-raiser calendar. There is a lot of information that you could infer from it, including where the family lived, as well as an indication of an important element of the childs' lives.
You can create your own perpetual calendar to include whichever special occasions you want. They don't usually have a whole lot of writing room, but I suppose if you were keeping track of dates relating to ancestors then you could have one for births, baptisms, anniversaries and/or death. An alternative would also be to have one for different lineages.

If you'd like to create your own annual calendar, you have many, many options. Family Tree Maker has a publication option for calendars and you can specify the year, as well as who and what data is included. Check your local photo and camera supply store web sites (Blacks.ca and Walmartphotocentre.ca for example) as they often have on-line programs for creating the calendars.
 
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
 
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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.

 
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.
 
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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.