Personal History and the Family Newsletter

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Heirlooms we don’t have in our family. But stories we got. (Rose Cherin)

Family Newsletters Can Help You To Update Your Personal History

Start a family newsletter. Have each member of the family, father, mother and children write something, each month, about what they are doing.

Start this even thought some of your children may not be old enough to write yet. Write down for them what they are doing, how they are growing, what they are saying, and how they are progressing emotionally and spiritually.

As children grow and begin to ask questions about their early childhood, you can let them read about themselves in the past issues of the family newsletter. Some day they will thank you for the efforts you put forth to record their lives in their early years.

Besides you might not be able to remember these things later when your children begin to ask you about their early years. Here you are writing it as you go along.

You might consider taking one evening a month to get everyone together and have each member write a letter to the family newsletter. Don’t forget to add pictures and be exact as to where, when, why and how. Keep these issues safe for they will be read for generations, I mean that!

Anyway, as you can imagine, your family newsletter will become the perfect source for updating your own personal history as well as being perhaps the only source your children have to their past.

Extended Family Newsletters

Now, you can have a family newsletter among your brothers and sisters who may be all grown up and have their own families. Its one matter for parents to stay in contact with each of their children, but its another for brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, second cousins, etc. to stay in contact with each other. Sometimes the only contact is at family reunions.

If you are not really close to these family members because of distance, it is only natural that some closeness is lost. And, as a result, you may not know all that is happening in these families. Family newsletter fills that void quite nicely.

Phone Calls Are Not An Excuse

Phone calls are sometimes used as a excuse for not putting together a family newsletter. The parties can obviously talk about more things and get instant answers to questions. In addition, people can just laugh with one another. This is good, so then why a family newsletter if we have a the telephone?

Letters last longer

First of all, phone conversations are quickly forgotten. If someone asked about the conversation you just had, you will leave out most of what was said and how it was said. The only way you could share what the call consisted of was to play a recording. Not everyone has a “bug” on their phones.

The value of a Family Newsletter is its ability to be read and reread. Not only for a month or a year, but throughout a lifetime. And even more, throughout the generations.

I’m not saying don’t call your family, but phone calls just cannot be recalled word for word as in a letter. And because of this simple fact, as time goes by, family newsletters become treasured possessions to be passed down from generation to generation. How many treasured phone conversations have you had?

And as I’ve said above, what we are doing is creating a family history as we go. We are leaving a record of our lives that can be read and reread not only by your family and other immediate family members, but by your descendants as well. This can not be done with phone calls.

Future generations to learn about ancestors

A fourth great grand child of yours, for example, will be able to become acquainted with you or your child who is his third great grand parent in no better way. If any of you have a journal of an ancestor, you know first hand how valuable your newsletter will be to your descendents. Your ancestor left you something for you to know him, you should do the same for your descendents!

Gathering Material for the Newsletter

Family Newsletters can take on many forms. They can very from the simple handwritten letter with news from family member gathered by mom to elaborate creations done on a computer with scanned in photographs.

A newsletter format that requires little work is to have all the children write a letter to mom (she’ll probably be the one who would do it anyway) once a month and then have mom xerox all the letters into one publication and mail it back to the children.

In this way, each person only has to only write one letter and all members of the family can see what’s happening in the other families. If Mom can’t, get someone in the family who will be willing to do this month in and month out.

If you think you could not get a letter once a month from family members, you may have to choose one person to call around and get the information for the newsletter. This can be very time consuming and does require a family member who’s willing to do such a thing.

Naming the Newsletter

An important step in the creation of a family newsletter is what to name it. Get input from family members on this. This name will be referred to for years to come. You’ll often refer to stories from family members in past editions.

Newsletter Symbol

While you’re at it, why don’t you try to come with a symbol, like a family crest or coat-of-arms to put next to the name of the newsletter It can become a family symbol to put on T-shirts and a cultural icon that will live forever.

What to put into your family newsletter

You can increase the scope of your family newsletter to include related subjects such as genealogy, personal histories of ancestors, etc. You can assign members of the family to make reports on history of areas where your ancestors came from. New genealogical discoveries can be shared.

In addition, a family newsletter can be a teaching tool. Here parents can still teach their children even if they are not living at home. Ideas and thoughts can be shared. Good books read can be recommended and assays written on a subject that is close to the family member hearts.

=Other suggestion for what to put into the family newsletter

  • Personality profiles of various family members
  • Birthdays of both living and deceased family members
  • Pictures of ancestors and houses and towns where they once lived
  • Calendar of events
  • Letters to the editor
  • Gospel questions and answers
  • Jokes
  • Folk lore
  • Recipes
  • Poetry and favorite stories
  • Games and puzzles
  • Pages to color for the small children
  • Local news events that other members of the family might find interesting or amusing
  • Essays or kids essays from school
  • Reprints of talks and sermons
  • Reports of vacations

Put your family newsletter on the Internet

Another outlet for your newsletter is to create your own web site, blog or facebook site on the Internet. This allows family members to contribute by posting their own letters to your family’s web page.

You can include pictures and any other visual objects that you would like your family to see. And now it is possible to put video clips on your family web page, as well.

Now grandma can see Bianna saying happy birthday to her. And all the family can see Spencer score a touchdown in his high school football game. How important this is for members of the family that maybe scattered all over the country or the world.

You can archive all this and view it whenever you want. Again how much will this history be valued by future generations. Think about it.