We genealogists sometimes curse our ancestors for not leaving a better paper trail for us to follow. Why weren't the births better recorded? Where do I turn now to look for these records? Why didn't someone keep an obituary of great-uncle Henry? Doesn't anybody know from what village in Europe Grandpa Claus emigrated? Well, the family newsletter is more than a paper trail--it's a paper superhighway! Every birth that occurs in the family goes into the family newsletter. Every wedding that occurs, and every death goes in there, too. Honor roll announcements and the high school football scores go in there, too. And not only can it serve as a snapshot in time of the family's current activities, if family history is incorporated into newsletter articles, it also educates current and future family members as to their history. Just think! If 50 or 100 family members collected their family newsletters and passed them on to their descendants, what a ready record they would leave 100 years down the road of what life was like for us and our antecedents! And if every family that published a family newsletter deposited a collection of their newsletter issues with a county historical archive or library, what a treasure trove of history their descendants would find!
A Family History Tool
Of course, you may have seen the newsletters of large surname societies to which unrelated or very distantly related people researching the same surname subscribe. Contributors share histories of people who have that surname, and they may also post queries seeking information about a certain ancestor. However, I am talking about a more intimate publication, where news and family stories are shared by people who are fairly closely related. If you all know each other to some degree, it's easier to talk about yourselves and what you have been doing. It's easier to ask others to share stories from their lives. And so a family newsletter can become a perfect instrument for gathering, sharing, and preserving a family's stories--its hi-story. We will discuss this in some detail in the next tutorial.
So you have seen how a family newsletter can be a major contributor to a family's cohesiveness--as a communication facilitator, as a builder and reinforcer of a positive family image, as an important paper trail for our descendants, and as a tool for gathering and sharing family history information. Does your family have a family newsletter? If not, why not?