Personal Publishing

I consider myself a family historian rather than a genealogist. I have no credentials in anything to do with genealogy but I do have decades of experience with the history of my family. Growing up in a small town that also just happened to be the oldest city in the United States, genealogy wasn’t a study but a social structure defining where you fit into the community. I was “Bubba’s eldest” or “one of Tot’s girls”. Many families could trace their local heritage back 9 or 10 generations, but ours was a family of newcomers who didn’t arrive here until the 1920s. I grew up on a creek that 300 years earlier was used to float coquina (a local shell-rock) across the bay to build the Spanish fort that still dominates the city’s bayfront. Like genealogy, history is also part of everyday life here. It’s not unusual to find pottery shards and other historical artifacts anywhere and before you can do almost any kind of construction within the city limits, the city archaeologist comes to look for anything of historical significance.

Although I enjoy chasing elusive ancestors, most of all I want to preserve and share the family artifacts and stories that have been a part of my life. I want those stories to be fascinating as well as factual with the appropriate source citations. And, I don’t want to restrict myself to one format. A “coffee table book” of family art and treasures is a project already in its initial stages and my artist uncle recently presented us with a beautiful watercolor collage of my father’s maritime career. There are many other project ideas yet to take off. My current focus is on the people I have known personally. They were extraordinary, ordinary people (I love that term!) and I want to show what made them so. It’s a challenge.

Having also spent a few decades in the technology world, I’ve enjoyed watching the genealogy community embrace the tools that have allowed us all to expand our research horizons and capabilities. Technology that was once both expensive and complicated has become accessible, affordable and user-friendly. I’m just as delighted to see the same thing happening in the publishing arena. For me, personally, it offers a broad range of options for building more than project ideas. Most of all, it’s opening up publishing to everyone. The technology is here and functional, but we’re blasted with so many choices that it’s awfully distracting. The challenge is to find one or two options that fit my needs and support my work style. I’ve found one – blogging with WordPress – but I’m still looking for book-building and multimedia options.

Just like research tools, publishing tools are a personal choice. This app isn’t better than that one, it’s just that I find it more suited to the way I work. There are many options out there and more arriving every day. The geek in me wants to try them all. The family historian wants to tell some stories. Looks like both of them are going to be very busy.

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