Famicity – Getting Started

Famicity is a private social network designed for families. It’s designed to provide a safe way to share news, photos and videos. It’s also a great place to stay connected in a secure environment that won’t sell your information to the highest bidder.

How do you get started with Famicity? Actually, it’s quite easy.

Go to Famicity at https://www.famicity.com/en/welcome. Take a few minutes to get a feel for the site. When you are ready, click the Sign up button in the upper right side of the screen. When the sign-up screen opens you will see several registration options. You can register using your Facebook login (not recommended), your FamilySearch login or create your own with your email address and a password. Before pressing the Start key, it’s a good idea to review the site’s terms of service.

Once you click the Create Account button, you will be taken to a page where you enter your name, sex and date of birth. Once that’s done, you are ready to start building your family tree and trying out the various components of Famicity.

Sample Famicity screen

You won’t have any stories or photos yet, but it won’t be long before you’re adding photo albums, videos and stories. Right now, you need to check out the toolbar running down the left side of the Famicity screen. The News button at the top of the bar displays your Famicity site’s timeline. As you invite others to join Famicity, this is the place to view all the latest posts to the network.

Story area

The Story button takes you to your profile screen. It contains information about you along with each of the items you have added to the site. This could include photos, videos, photo albums and stories. The name “stories” is a bit misleading. While writing stories about yourself and others are always encouraged, stories will often include short captions, announcements and news. You choose what your stories will be.

Albums are just that . . . A place to display multiple photos associated with a particular event or topic.

Famicity also includes a family Tree. You can either build it from scratch or import a GEDCOM. The tree is used to show your Famicity members how they fit within the family structure but it is also used to invite family members to join your Famicity group. The birthdate information maintained in your family tree is also used to automatically announce birthdays in Famicity’s News section.

The Inbox makes it possible to communicate with your family members via private message.

Contacts is the directory of members. This can be used by members to contact each other. It is also used by administrators to send family members an invitation to join Famicity and it is used to organize members into groups – like the Florida group and the California group.

The My family section contains a directory for all the members of your Famicity family. The directory can be used by members to find contact information. For network administrators, it is a great way to manage groups and invitations as well as contact information.

Before you start inviting your family to join you at Famicity, post photos, videos and even a story or two. This will help you get a feel for how things work in Famicity and it will give your family something fascinating to look at when they first view the site. The Help button in the toolbar takes you to the Famicity help center where you will find detailed instructions on how to use the many features available.

Once you are comfortable with the site it’s time to start adding others. As they get comfortable with Famicity, start encouraging them to add their own photos and stories. You’ll be surprised how quickly they will settle in.

Found Ephemera

frances-collage
Collage graphic created for a story about Frances Georgina Scott Barrett.

I have found that a compelling graphic is a great way to attract attention to a family story. In the example above, a cousin shared her portrait of Frances giving me an opportunity to embellish a story I was writing about her time in Mississippi. The collage shows a map of the area in Mississippi where the family settled and the riverboat adds a bit of “atmosphere”.

Finding these elements isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming. Vintage design elements are perfect for these projects. And, there are lots of public domain sources available for them. Yes, it took a bit more time and effort to build my project, but I don’t have to worry about legal problems or spend a lot of money for commercial licenses.

Start with what you’ve got. Family letters, envelopes, journal pages, even pages from old ledgers or deposit receipts can become interesting design elements. Scan blank ledgers or diary pages to use behind your own journaling. Old tags, note cards and other ephemera can also be put to good use. Photograph jewelry against contrasting paper to make it easy to “extract” the item from the background and use it on a page. Yes, it will take time to do these things, but once created they can be used over and over again in different projects.

StandardGuideAd
Advertisement in a 19th century tourist guide.

Lots of periodicals from the late 19th century can be found at Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive and Google Books. You can find some gorgeous illustrations in magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Colliers and Scribners, and quite possibly something related to the area or period of time you are documenting in your project. I found architectural journals with plans and sketches of some of our local buildings. There is also a wealth of graphic ornaments. And don’t forget the advertisements either. You might find a business or product advertised that fits into your family story.

Flickr, the photo-sharing platform, is a fabulous resource. At Flickr Commons you will find photo and graphic collections from archives, museums, libraries and organizations around the world. Flickr’s search feature is impressive and even makes it possible to restrict your search to public domain images.

You may find vintage clipart online at the digital scrapbooking shops. Before purchasing, check their licensing/terms of use policy. If they don’t say anything about online and PDF usage, ask. I’ve had good luck with the growing number of graphics shops on Etsy like EclecticAnthology and Swiejko. One of my favorite sources is graphic designer, Cathe Holden, and her divine Just Something I Made blog. She’s always doing something creative and she not only shares her project ideas, but she shares all kinds of design elements too. You’ll find a lot of these graphic “sheets” in her Scribd library.

hzgraphic

While you may need to learn additional skills – especially in the area of screen capture – you will find many ways to put these new skills to good use. And, you’ll craft a family history that is truly unique. It’s well worth the effort!

Found Ephemera – Flickr Commons

Found Ephemera – Flickr Commons

Are you looking for photos of a place or a period in time? Take a look at The Commons on Flickr. Archives, museums and libraries from all over the world are making historical photos and other interesting graphics available for everyone to see. Even better, most of these images are public domain so you can use them in your family history projects. What will you find at The Commons? Obviously there…

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Found Ephemera – Flickr Commons

Are you looking for photos of a place or a period in time? Take a look at The Commons on Flickr. Archives, museums and libraries from all over the world are making historical photos and other interesting graphics available for everyone to see. Even better, most of these images are public domain so you can use them in your family history projects.

What will you find at The Commons? Obviously there are fabulous collections of historical photographs. That’s just the beginning. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has a number of collections, including their Historical Map collection with 149 maps. These will help me track my Mississippi ancestors as they moved into and around the state, but it will also give me graphics I can use to help tell their stories. Who knows, I may even find a photo or two . . .

Texas looks interesting too with lots of maps and even scans of the original Texas Declaration of Independence. I’ll need to spend some time looking through the Gulf Coast photographs to see if any relatives show up there.

The Florida Archive has provided lots of amazing images including the Spanish Land Grants issued during Florida’s Second Spanish Period. Our family didn’t show up down here until many years later, but it’s still quite fascinating.

Both the British Library and the Internet Archive are posting images from old books. The British Library has more than a million images using tags and albums to organize them. Do you need period clothing from a certain era? You’ll probably find it here. There are also tons of great graphical images that could help add “color” to a family history project. Everything I’ve seen so far has “no known copyright restrictions”. The Internet Archive has posted more than 5 million images. Each has information about their source and often link back to the scanned copy of the book containing that image, but they have not yet begun organizing the images. There are no albums so you’ll either have to browse or use search to help you find specific types of images.

Maps, historic photos and graphic images can be quite useful in family history projects. For example, I’ve found several photographs of the S.S. Florida – a small cruise liner that took travelers from Miami to Havana in the 1930s and 40s. As a teenager, my father was a deck hand during the summer. It was the beginning of his career as a merchant seaman. You can bet I’ll put any and all photos I can find of that ship to good use.

the S. S. Florida
P & O Steamship Line. S. S. Florida. Gift of Betty Demonich to the Florida Keys Public Library.

Found Ephemera: Obsidian Dawn

Found Ephemera: Obsidian Dawn

Obsidian Dawn is a digital design studio offering gorgeous graphical elements with both reasonable prices and terms of use. You will find most of her packages can be downloaded for free, but I would recommend going for the commercial licenses (a whopping $3.00 per package) if you’re planning any kind of book project you may put up for sale. You will find many delightful packages ranging from…

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