Lifecards Storytelling

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It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to turn photos into photo stories. The Lifecards app (iOS – $1.99) makes it easy to create postcards, email newsletters, story cards and much more. This is a great platform to display your family’s history in small, eye-catching bites.

In the example above there are three elements – a photo, a bit of photo art and a bit of text. The photo art was created using the Brushstroke app (iOS – free) and what was originally a rather faded photo. Brushstroke turned that faded photo into a beautiful piece of art. The photo on the left shows us all admiring the trophy catch and the text describes the story behind the photo as well as setting time and place. It doesn’t take many words to describe the event, but the text, photo and photo art stirs up fond memories of a long ago time.

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Here you see that story being created with Lifecards. There are plenty of templates to help you build your cards along with tools to adjust the images within the template, add text and even “handwritten” notes. Once finished, you have a number of options for sharing your creation. It can be saved to Photos, emailed, posted to Facebook, Twitter or MeWe, printed and even sent as a postcard via Kite.ly. The only cost to you is $2.49 to print and send it to its destination.

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Here is another sample – a beautiful portrait and very short story about an ancestor. This “postcard” was emailed to siblings and cousins so they could enjoy meeting Francis as much as I did.

Lifecards isn’t restricted to just postcard size. There are templates to create email newsletters – with photos – and even a newspaper-style template when you have a family history scoop to share. With Lifecards you can easily share the stories, photos and ephemera that your research discovers as eye-catching cards or notes that will make them want to learn more.

Who knows . . . it could even generate some new genealogists in the family.

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.

Create Eye-Catching Graphics With Keynote

My family history research has discovered some amazing stories, but it takes more that good writing to get most of my family’s attention. I have learned that a great photo can be an eye-catcher if the viewer knows who is in the picture. Few in my family would recognize the people in this photo, but a bit of graphic design turned a beautiful photograph into the bait that makes them want to learn “the rest of the story”.

This graphic was created on my iPad using the Keynote presentation app. Keynote is also a great scrapbooking/graphic design app and works wonders for creating graphics like these. The background of my graphic was a scan of an aged piece of paper I found in my grandmother’s things. The map of “old” Savannah came from an old Savannah history book found at the Internet Archive. I took a screenshot of the map page in the book and saved it to the Photos app. I then used Photos photo-editing tools to crop the map to the area I wanted. Once I had edited the map graphic, I copy/pasted it on top of the background on the slide. The graphic element under the bottom left corner of the photo came from a book of old graphics and illustrations. The fonts were the only things that cost me money. (I’m a font fanatic and look for any excuse to add to my collection.)

One I had all the components added, arranged and ready to go, I exported my one slide presentation to a JPG format. If my presentation has multiple slides, this export feature will export each slide as a jpg photo file.

The resulting graphic is now ready to become an eye-catching intro to the actual story. Yes, it’s that easy!

Storytellers Studio

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I am delighted to announce Storytellers Studio – a Facebook group for Family historians looking for creative ways to share your family’s history. The Studio is a resource center with discussions on projects, platforms, apps and other resources. It is also a community center where members can ask questions, share their works and pass on tips and ideas.

I hope you will join us and discover how rewarding storytelling can be.

Your Family Infographic

Have you checked out Twile yet? It’s the gorgeous way to create a timeline of your family’s history. They have always had this very cool infographic showing stats about your family, but it was only in digital format. Not any more!

Previously only available as a digital version to share online, you can now order your infographic as a high resolution print, to add to the family album or show off in a frame over the mantelpiece.

There’s more to Twile than just this infographic. See for yourself!