Likewise, if you or other family members are conducting research on the genealogy of deceased ancestors and relatives, a family newsletter is a perfect vehicle for comparing notes and passing that information on to the rest of the family. If several members of the family are involved in research, this is also a perfect place to post queries and "finds" to all the researchers at once. A family newsletter can be a wonderful way to educate family members about their heritage. I have received numerous thanks from many family members for genealogy charts that I have included in our family newsletters. One family member commented that he was interested to learn that we were of Swedish descent--he had always thought we were descended from German and English forbears. Our Swedish connection was information that I had thought was common knowledge in our family. I guess that if it isn't discussed, it can't be common knowledge! I think that a lot of interest in our cultural and historic heritage has been sparked by these revelations.
It wasn't until after I started publishing a family newsletter that I began to realize what a fantastic tool a family newsletter can be for gathering, sharing, and preserving a family's history. As mentioned in the previous tutorial, a family newsletter is a wonderful way to gather and share genealogical information on your current family members. That includes names, dates, and places of births, christenings, marriages, divorces, deaths and burials. It is all recorded in one central location, instead of numerous places, such as Aunt Bertha's letter to Mom, and George's note to Cousin Sam. True, this is not a "primary source," but it points to the primary records to which you can turn to verify your information. In other words, if you know from the newsletter that cousin Alice was married in St. Sophia's Church in Los Angeles, California on August 12, 1995, you and every genealogist that has access to your family newsletter through time will know which county records to turn to to verify her marriage information. It is available to all family members who subscribe to the newsletter, and may be available to other genealogists if copies of the newsletter are deposited with an historical society archives or library.
Story Gathering and Reporting
I found that family members have lots of stories inside them which don't always get told. A family newsletter is one way to gather these stories and get the stories out to the rest of the family. Our family has featured newsletters on the themes of World War II and the Great Depression. Family members who could remember those times shared their memories with us. We learned a lot--about the heroism and sacrifice, the tedium and terror of war, and about the tragedies and triumphs of living with severe deprivation during a widespread economic depression. What the younger members of our family began to see was that there used to be a time without a MacDonald's; that even if you had the money to buy tires, you couldn't buy them if you didn't have the ration stamps; that children had to contribute to the family's economic well-being in time of privation. These newsletter issues were real revelations for our family.