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How to Share Genealogy Stories with Non-Genealogists

May 24, 2023

We drafted this piece for you today at the direct request of multiple Artifcts Community members. There seems to be some frustration out there when it comes to family history enthusiasts sharing the excitement after hours of toiling* away at genealogy research. For some, the issue is that friends and family refuse to even listen. We warned about this in an earlier post.

Others simply want their friends and family to sign into genealogy websites to look at the timelines, galleries, and trees they've built but the loved ones hit the same wall: intimidation. People tell us that they find the sheer volume of ancestry information and the hyper-detailed nature of it overwhelming. They just want the highlights.

Then there's the anxiety that genealogists report with regard to the 1000s of photos and documents that remain locked on their hard drives, behind subscription paywalls, or in their physical possession, all deterring easy sharing of the stories we’ve pieced together with our families.

A New Resource for Genealogy Story-Sharing

Here are some of the ways we’ve made story-sharing and storytelling simpler and more powerful than ever before for family genealogy and history.

  • No ‘story’ is required. Or at least not what the weight the word “story” might carry for you. A few words will do! And if you’re capturing the history of an ancestor from long ago, consider using a photo, snapshot of their place in the family tree, and maybe a census record with their entry highlighted. You can always fill in more details about who that person was and their life, where they lived, and the heirlooms they left behind later.  
  • You can include video and audio snippets to bring your story to life! You learned that your ancestor founded a major port city in Virginia? Click record on your phone, tell the story, and add it to the Artifct. Move on! This becomes even more fun when you have a living relative to tell the story. No more second guessing, “What did Grandpa really say?” Grandma’s biscuits are legendary, and now so is the video of her showing you how to make them.   
  • To share or not to share, that is always up to you! Some memories will be private until the day we die. But, for others, sharing with a family member may help recall more story details (or an alternate version of events!). Import your contacts to Artifcts, create family invite-only circles for easy group sharing, and off you go!
  • Devil is in the details, and we’ve got your back! If you like to color code your ancestors, highlight key story gaps or points, or create custom folders for your research, Artifcts is here for you. As you write, you can easily format your story. You can even use the @ feature to link to other related Artifcts about the same collection or family line. And tags are infinitely custom with the rigid structure of folders – use a special tag like #MayFamily52 to easily click and sort your collection or tag related relatives and events that help you organize your work.
  • We help you balance details with privacy. Genealogists know, birth dates and other important biographical information for living family members need to stay out of any story or tree you might share with people outside the family or publicly, even at Artifcts. At the same time, we’ve learned you want to be able to share documentation—like a scanned collection of letters or the life story Grandpa wrote—privately with friends and family. Now you can!

What tips and tricks have you discovered for telling and sharing your family genealogy and stories with Artifcts? We’re all ears and would love to hear! You can contact us at hello@artifcts.com.

Happy Artifcting!

________________ 
 
Check out related ARTIcles and tips about storytelling and genealogy with Artifcts: 
 
Genealogy Gems checklist – Free downloadable! 
Chasing Histories Can Be Exhausting and So Worthwhile! 
Artifcts Quick Tips – Free downloadable! 
Not sure what to write? Tips from author Jeff Greenwald

* Toiling, they'd have us believe! As though they aren't having fun? Hmm, we suspect otherwise.

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Telling My Story Without the Pressure of a Memoir

Reading time: 4 minutes 

Many of us feel overwhelmed by the prospect of telling our stories never mind authoring a memoir. One. More. Thing. To do. And, "How do I even get started?”  

Companies exist that will send you daily and weekly prompts to help; some will even call you. You answer a question at a time until you get to some state of "done." This is a solid, time-tested strategy for any of life’s larger tasks, breaking it down into something smaller.  

Those question-by-question approaches are not for everyone. You may feel pestered as well as stressed if you “get behind.” And not all of us are great with open-ended questions that lack true personalization.  

Another option is to work with a professional writer. No, not someone you meet for 30 or 60 minutes and with their notes they write or record your life story. Really? That’s a neat trick. If only life were so simple.  

We’re talking about the professionals like with LifeBook Memoirs, whose work is a true art, a physical family heirloom, and a gift. The level of care, privacy, and personalization to your needs, coupled with the product they print makes anyone a believer in the power of a memoir. 

But what if you want are not yet ready to plunge into the time and cost of a memoir and still want to privately make progress on your own? That's what we're talking about here today.

The Artifcts Approach to Writing Your Story, Your Memoir 

I’ve been telling my story through travel mementos, collections, books, photos and more, slowly but surely through my Artifcts. No outline. No grand scheme. As I come across or receive something that inspires me, I Artifct it.  

I'll use one of my most recent Artifcts as a simple example. I took my 13-year-old daughter to see the Broadway show Six. She loves choir and drama, and yet she couldn’t have been less excited in the days leading up to the show. I stayed quiet (which if you know me is quite a feat) and waited. The lights dimmed, the six wives and the all-female band took the stage. And ... magic! 

My daughter was enthralled, smiling, and shooting looks at me that said, “Wow!” After the show she told me it was even better than Hamilton. Never could I ever have imagined anything would outshine Hamilton in her eyes.  

When we got home, I Artifcted the physical playbill, the digital one with the six wives’ signatures, and a pic of my daughter at the theatre. Why? I’m not going to keep that playbill, but I am going to keep the memory of that day for always, for her, for me. 

Artifct of Broadway musical Six from Egoody

 
 
Fun fact: When I later searched Artifcts to pull up my Artifct, I found a second Artifct for Six. I had forgotten that my co-founder took her daughter to Six, too. Don’t you love uncovering surprise connections? 

The Best of Social Media, Meets the Best of Artifcts 

I always tell people that when we built Artifcts, all the social media giants were on Capitol Hill defending themselves and their policies. We had the opportunity to build something better. So, I’ve been privately Artifcting the big little moments in my life through the objects I collect without the pressure of view counts and follows. 

Then one day about two years into Artifcts, a genealogist challenged me to show how Artifcts could easily help someone to tell their life story. Apparently this is the holy grail of the genealogy world. I eagerly accepted that challenge and gave myself 10 minutes to complete it. 

How? Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I began at the beginning, using the Artifcts I had already created to tell my story in full color (and with audio, video, and supporting documentation, too).  

      1. Created a new Artifct 
      2. Titled it. I was literal, “My Life Story.” 
      3. Picked a category. I used “Life Moments: Other Life Moments.” 
      4. Filled in the story. Within the 10 minutes, I wrote an 1,100-word story that included approximately 40 Artifcts via @ mentions and wove in each of my family members, key friends and other loved ones with @ mentions, too, giving them instant ‘View’ access to my story.
      5. Added documentation. Totally optional, but in this case I chose to privately attach my birth and marriage certificates. 
      6. Tagged it. #LifeStory and #Genealogy made sense to me for single-click sorting to see other Artifcts with the same tags in the future. 

 

 
 
 
This 2.5 minute video shows you the @ feature in action.

Imagine the surprise of the genealogist who challenged me when I privately shared the Artifct with her and it was not just a story, but a multi-media surprise of layered stories about myself, my loved ones, the places of been, and the experiences I have accumulated, aka life!

The text of an Artifct blurred out for privacy but showing the title and names of linked Artifcts within the text

 
 
The green text represents the linked Artifcts that are sprinkled throughout my "life story" Artifct.
 
 
Don’t have 40 Artifcts? You could tell your story in 5 Artifcts, 30, or 100s. Artifcts you don’t weave into your story will always be one click away in your Artifcts collection for the full-er story! 

How Will You Write and Share Your Life Story? 

Artifcts is a gift. The reality is that if I were no longer here tomorrow, my family would know me and remember me with support from my Artifcts. No life story required.  

The life story Artifct I created is simple to create and a powerful, one-stop opportunity to hear the story from my perspective. And, best yet I can go in and edit and add to it any time I want. My story is not done. My perspective may yet shift, even on the way I see the past changes. And, who knows, one day my Artifcts may be the perfect fodder for LifeBook Memoirs to help me write my memoir. 

No matter how you choose to tell your stories, we beg you:

      • Create a digital backup. And make sure your loved ones know your story exists and how to get to it and ALL the supporting materials (photos, documents etc.) that went into it.
      • Do not let perfection or some idea that your stories don’t matter stand in your way. There’s no one “youer” than you!

We promise you it’s the big little details in life that everyone loves you for and wants to remember you for, too.

______________

You may also enjoy these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

Not Sure What to Write? Tips From Author Jeff Greenwald

The Value of Cherished Objects in Our Life Stories

Timelines Have Arrived at Artifcts!

A Family History in Five Artifcts

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Join Us for the 12 Days of Artifcts, 2023 Edition

Join us for some holiday fun!

Starting Friday, we'll publish a daily theme to Artifct as part of our 12 Days of Artifcts. No turtle doves or partridge in a pear tree, but each of the 12 Days of Artifcts offers you the opportunity to take a breath amidst your holiday merriment and chaos. We'll provide the themes, you provide the Artifcts.

No matter your faith or tradition, all are welcome!

New to Artifcts or only have a free account? That's okay! Once you sign up free, you can create your first 5 Artifcts free and see what you think before buying a membership.

And you'll have no excuse for not being ready as we're giving you a head start by sharing with you today the daily themes. Let's have some fun. And remember, if you make any of your 12 Days of Artifcts public, tag them #12DaysofArtifcts for others to easily discover and enjoy. We look forward to Friday, December 1, for the first of the 12 Days of Artifcts!

Psst ... They'll be ANOTHER surprise on December 1, too. Make sure you pop over to Artifcts.com to learn more.

Christmas tree made up of numbers, each with a topic to Artifct

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A New Family Tradition for the Holidays that Won't Cost a Dime

Reading time: 4 minutes

Who doesn’t love the board games, flag football, and annual viewing of movie favorites like Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, and Home Alone over the holidays with your family?

Get ready to make some new traditions, have fun with your family, and avoid awkward conversations like, “So, how’s your dating life?” Instead, you'll get to enjoy more of those, “I never knew that about you!” moments! You guessed it, we’re putting a spin on those traditions of togetherness with Artifcts.  

New Family Memories and Traditions with Artifcts 

We asked around, “How do you Artifct with family” and distilled the rather humorous stories we heard into a step-by-step process anyone can do with only hours to spare before everyone descends on the same spot for the holidays (or the next family reunion). 

#1. CREATE YOUR FREE ARTIFCTS MEMBERSHIP

Sign up free in 30 seconds, start to finish.

#2. DECIDE ON A THEME

Give your family a focus. Here are some ideas to get you started, but we also offer free checklists to inspire you:

  • Recipes. Request modern family favorites to expand your repertoire. Or stick to oldies but goodies that have been passed down through the years. 
  • Photos. “Oldest” and “funniest” competitions could be fun. One person told us they’d like, “You never see her/him in pictures” or “Rarely do you see so many of us together,” types of photos. Go for it! 
  • Family treasures. Again, maybe they’re family heirlooms or modern pieces created by your kids or purchased while traveling and make for a good story. 
  • Going, going, gone. This one made us laugh and came from a reader after our recent “Epilogue: Family Keepers” story. The idea here is that if you are holding on to family heirlooms, antiques, or similar items, and you don’t really WANT to hold on to them, Artifct them to let others know so they have a final chance to call “Dibs!” 
  • All things sports. This final example was from a family of sporting enthusiasts. Maybe your family is made up of musicians, artists, or travelers; same idea applies. This family Artifcted new sports memorabilia, photos, and finishers medals from the year. 

#3 ADD FAMILY MEMBERS TO YOUR ARTIFCTS "NETWORK"

(This step is optional to speed up step #4)

You need only each person's name and email. You can make it easier still by filling in this template and then returning to your Account Settings > Content & Network > Network and clicking “Import” to add them all at once.

Don't have their email addresses? Text, call, or post a message wherever you and your family communicate to ask them to create an account on Artifcts.com and then send you their screen name. You can add them easily that way, too.

#4 CREATE AN INVITE-ONLY ARTIFCTS CIRCLE

Create an Artifcts Circle (we have a help video, too!) to easily unite and organize all the Artifcts your family creates and shares. Add each family member to it by selecting from your list if you completed step #3 or by typing in their email address directly.

      • You can choose, per person, to let them invite others or to make another person an “admin” who can add AND delete others. 
      • In the “About” section, describe for your family what this circle is for, e.g., “Let’s gather up and share favorite holiday recipes for the holidays.”  
      • Then click to invite them and leave a comment, e.g.:

“Please create a free Artifcts account so we can swap recipes this year and not lose them in email or texts! Tag them #Turkey23. Bonus points if you add a funny short video snippet, too, so we all know how it turned out! Don’t forget to click share and choose this Circle or we can't see it. Call me if you need help.” 

You can always edit the Circle details, image for the Circle, and members, so don’t worry if you forget something (or someone) or have a change of plans.

#5. CREATE YOUR ARTIFCT & PICK YOUR MOMENT

When will you have your “Arti Hour, Happy Hour?” to share and chat about all your new Artifcts from the your family? Maybe as the dinner is cooking or perhaps after dessert for everyone to take a few minutes to talk about their Artifcts. You may discover in the sharing new details and related stories you’ve never heard before!

Best yet, once your family starts Artifcting and sharing with your new Circle, they can contribute all year long! Next year you can pick right back up or choose a new theme to capture your family's history.

Togetherness and Remembrance this Holiday Season 

We want to acknowledge and talk about another facet of the holidays: grief.  

We know that the holidays can be an incredibly challenging time for many of us. We’re facing them with loved ones missing for the first time or perhaps facing the end soon. Artifcts can be a powerful way to spend time together capturing memories and stories for now and later, for you and for all your loved ones. It can also make it easier to decide what becomes of all the ‘stuff’ that we ultimately leave behind one day.  

Our free Life Preparedness and After-Loss Support Guide may offer a helpful starting point. You may also find inspiration in some of our past ARTIcles by Artifcts such as Gift Your Loved Ones a Why and The Three Things I Wish My Mother Had Artifcted.  

Consider taking the time to watch the recording from our recent panel discussion about new traditions for the holidays as we process our grief. Our guests, Rachel Donnelly, founder of My AfterLight and Professionals of After Loss Services, and Garrick Colwell, of Kitchen Table Conversations, brought diverse and deep backgrounds to the practical and emotional aspects of grief. 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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