Storytellers Studio

Family History Shorts

I recently received an advertisement for National Geographic Shorts – publications that are more than an article in a National Geographic magazine but not a full-blown book. I saw a couple that I’ll be sending on to the g-kids, but I also saw a great opportunity for family historians. Short publication projects serve several purposes.

First, the history of our families is often a collection of individual stories – anecdotes, events, biographical sketches and such – pulled together in some organized manner. It’s much easier to tell the story of a single person or event than to plan and organize a complete family history project yet, when you focus on one story at a time, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your collection of stories grows.

Second, it’s a whole lot easier to start and complete a short than to tackle a big project. You can work as your research leads you or by focusing on the people, places and events you find interesting.

Next, thanks to today’s technology, you can publish each individual short with the research you have at the moment and easily update it any time new research provides additional information.

From a design perspective, create a standard template for your short publications. By using the same page format, typography and styles on each project, you’ll not only develop a consistent look to identify your work but you’ll also make it a lot easier when you’re ready to combine selected shorts into a larger publication.

Publishing is just as easy too. Kindle offers a section for Kindle Singles and a support page for authors interested in publishing them. Scribd supports all kinds of publications and their storefront gives you an opportunity to sell your shorts too. Other retailers and publishers make it easy for family historians to publish their works and support short projects so you have many options for distribution. It’s your choice to distribute your publications just to family members, post them online or even make a few bucks to help support your genealogy habit. And, with family history shorts you keep your family’s interest as you continue your research. Everybody wins!

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