I created this little book to preserve and share Mary Katherine Link’s autograph book which I inherited from my grandmother. Miss Kate was her aunt – her father’s sister. My grandmother was only 5 years old when her mother died and Miss Kate stepped in to take on the task of surrogate mother to four young children. She did this while continuing to teach school. She was quite an amazing lady.
Miss Kate’s autographs date from the late 19th century, showing the affection and respect she she enjoyed in her community. The book’s binding is disintegrating and many of the pages are now loose. Before packing it away in an archival box to protect it from further deterioration, I scanned the book with plans to create a booklet from the images so any interested family members could have a copy of their own.
The book was created using OpenOffice.org’s Writer app and Photoshop Elements. My images were cropped and re-sized, then inserted into the booklet document. I added a short biography written by my cousin, Nancy Murphy, and the only photo I have of Miss Kate. After adding a cover and exporting everything to PDF, I uploaded the result to Lulu. Not only does Lulu offer both print and download options, they provide the storefront allowing family and friends to order/download their copies without having to go through me first. By offering the print version at cost, I could provide the download version for free.
Several people downloaded copies and I had a few printed to distribute to older family members and the historical society where Miss Kate lived, but after a few months there was no further activity for this booklet on the Lulu site. In 2009 I moved the document to the Scribd platform. While it doesn’t offer a print option (except to print on your local printer), it’s much easier for search engines to find – thanks to the ability to tag the document with keywords that facilitate searching.
We all have family ephemera in our collections. Consider using them to build e-pubs to share with family members and to publish online at platforms like Scribd which could help attract research cousins. Miss Kate’s autograph book won’t change the world, but to descendants of the Link family and the Tennessee community where they lived it helps bring their ancestors to life. If that’s not enough reason, you’ll also be creating an “off-site” archive of your family treasures should disaster strike at home.