Starting The Hobby

Making Your Family History Accessible to others – You’ve done a lot of research –what now? Often one ends up with piles of paper, books stuck in odd places, certificates folded up and kept in a chocolate box – difficult to work from and impossible for others to decide what to keep and what to throw away.
So as family historians we need a plan to ensure that years of research are not wasted and that the wheel doesn’t have to be invented all over again. We need to store our papers in a way that they are retrievable and valuable documents and photographs are preserved.
In this way we can make use of our research and it will also be available to those who come after us.
Who is going to carry on after you? What you have accumulated during your research, indeed during your lifetime, needs to be organized so other people can understand the value of what there is. Filing system – indexing – much more likely to be preserved than a whole bunch of papers stuffed in an apple box and you can find things when you want to write about someone.  Concertina Files, Ring Binders and dividers. Filing Cabinets – hanging files or folders, Card Index System, Flip Files, Inventory of personal and family memorabilia – keep in a safe place with your will, Heirloom furniture and silver, jewelry, portraits and pictures, bibles, autograph and address books, scrapbooks etc; include information about previous owners, invoices if they have survived, where they are located.
Add photographs. It can become an interesting document in itself Books; if valuable collectors’ items include this information so they don’t get sent of to a book sale! PhotographsRecords, documents and certificatesCare of photographs and documentsAcid-free or archival boxes, acid-free tissue paper, polypropylene plastic sheets or sleevesScrapbooksWill – detail who should inherit genealogical material and what thy should do with it – sound out family members beforehand – add codicil if necessaryPreparing written documents and chartsFamily Trees – many different formats – “drop-line”, circular, descent format, etcArticles – you can write short pieces about a particular person or family, or experiences you have had while busy with research and find a vehicle in which it could be published. Look through the publication’s requirements to make sure you comply with them before sending in your articleOur newsletterFamiliaCapensisOther journals and magazines, newspapersBooklets & Books: people often feel they can’t possibly produce a book but it surprisingly easy to put together something – copy shops are a great facility to make use of for copying and bindingSelf publication – can be a home-made job or use a self-publishing company – do your homework first – how many copies do you think you need – are you going to give them away to family members or do you want to try and sell them to a wider public – what can you afford to investFind a publisher – if you think you have produced a work of interest to a wide enough group of people – need a potential buying public of about 3000Talks – if your research is of interest to a wider group you can give talks about an aspect of your research
Women’s groups are always looking for speakers – community radioUsing your computerGenealogy programmes to store data, prepare charts and reports – wide variety available – do some looking around before you buy oneStore scanned copies of photographs and certificates – can circulate these to other peopleWeb programmes to prepare CDs for distribution – again a number available – go for something simpleInternet – this has revolutionized research into family history and provides a powerful platform for sharing information about your researchProvide information on mailing lists, websites – may be one for your surnameUse the Society’s website – you can provide information either as a family tree or in the form of a story
Set up your own website – make sure you provide our web master with the details so it can be linked to our website


[Prepared by Lois Harley for Cape Town Family History Society January 2008]