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Family Reunion Forum

Re: Presenting research at the reunion

Thank you Gwen but, guess what? Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

When I first found LIVING descendants and that they were going to have a reunion I knew I could NOT show up there with the hundreds of manilla folders, DC's, census reports, obituaries, pics, etc.

Making a book was the only solution. So I went about it as though it were a story that I wanted to share with them and then all the pieces just fell into place. It took time but it was worth it. When I first started the first book I thought it wouldn't perhaps 20 - 30 pages but I couldn't stop and when I began to hyperventilate about what the cost might be to print it I stopped! I had 96 pages and I was determined to print in color. Can you believe it didn't even hage page numbers (smile)? The whole family would be on the phone with someone else saying stuff like "turn to the page with the full page picture of Papa Marcus" or "after the Obituary of Cousin Louise".

The new book has pages, thank goodness. For the second book I was copying/pasting items I'd come across from the Internet a year in advance. Everytime I'd see something that I felt would work nice, I'd save it. One of the most memorable graphics is of an old fashioned trunk with a little black girl peeking out the top of it and her hair is in these huge braids with ribbon on the ends and she has the most adorable eyes. I used that picture to go with a poem I wrote called "Trunk of Treasures" ... stuff like that.

The software I used was Adobe InDesign CS2 and 3. Believe it or not once I finished it I thought one day how cool would this be to save the file as a pdf and send a 'peek-a-boo' copy to my Cousin Kim in Dallas. It took my computer 3 hours to just compose the file (it becomes larger with the graphics) and it still bombed out. It had to be uploaded to a FTP site to send it to the Printer.

You need a good softare package that allows you to make text and graphics sing like Mahalia Jackson! Take a tablet and make a numbered list of the information that you have then on 2nd, then 3rd and so forth pages, begin to move the numbered items around until you begin to tell a story about yo' kinfolks. You know, who, what, why, where and when!

Think of it as your story to tell and you have the best audience you'll ever get on this planet, they want to have the information that you have. You just have to keep reminding yourself that your audience DOES NOT live on the INTERNET hunting deceased people like WE DO (smile). It cant' be a history lesson it has to be a love story, I believe. The census reports and dc's, etc. are simply items you present as a provenance, a legacy, a roadmap if you will, from where your family comes.

Start with a title, a dedication page and roll it all out for them. Remember Lou Gosset in Enemy Mine? He plays an alien who comes from a planet of very proud people and magnificent warriors. His people believed that for a young man to begin to cross over to manhood he was required to go before the Great Council of Elders and recite his lineage. Their family lines sometimes went back 20 or 30 generations!

YOU are Lou Gosset ... so educate them about the generations through your story but do it with love and they'll love it.

I'd be only too willing to type-out the Outline that I used and share that if anyone is interested. For instance, the Table of Contents, Section headings, Topics covered in sections, themes and sequences of photographs used and why and where I used them at. While it may not be exactly what someone else would want to do it would certainly give you an excellent spring board to create from.

Even a Blk/White copy would be great to have on hand because you could refer to it over and over. It took me 5 months to really complete my 2nd one and there are still a few typeos that I failed to catch (smile). The majority of time is spent on the pictures. Receiving them from family members, scanning them, retouching and special effects. Like soft screened pictures with text over them, etc.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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