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family newsletters
putting it all together

by Deborah K. Millemaci
(return to genealogy)

Continuing with the theme of family newsletters, I would like to offer you some suggestions that can assist you in their completion . One of the first things you must do is see how receptive family members will be in participating and receiving your newsletter. Their cooperation will result in less work for you during preparation.

Once you determine how much your family will be involved, your next step will be to consider the name you will give your publication. Use your imagination when choosing a name that will reflect the character of your family name (ie. Casa di Millemaci). Once you have chosen the name for your newsletter, you will need to establish a reasonable timeframe for publication. Within this timeframe, be sure to consider the content for each issue. If you are highlighting special events (such as birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, weddings, reunions, etc.), keep a calendar available to record these important events. Then you can refer to it as you need it. When including genealogy information, be sure you have backup files and that they are dated. This will avoid repetition, and can easily be referred to when you do updates. Encourage input from other family members by requesting favorite photos to be shared as well as stories, recipes, questions regarding family ancestors and other historical information that pertain to your family.

Format is another important consideration. Do you want to have a layout which features columns or just continual print on a page? What about photos or decorative borders? How many pages will your newsletter be? You need to consider these factors when preparing your newsletter. Every page should be numbered and should also include the title, address, and editor of publication as well as the volume number and date of publication, as shown in this example:

Casa di Millemaci - Deborah K. Millemaci, Editor
VOL. 1 NO. 1 - June-July 2001
Be sure to note (usually on the front page) requests for submissions and deadlines for your next issue. With genealogy as basis for your newsletter, explore creative ways to present information. Use family sayings or favorite memories as "fillers" between articles. Have children submit their own favorite drawings or have them write a short story about what that drawing means to them.

Special headings (e.g. Upcoming Events, Family Queries, Recipe of the Month, Suggestion Box) can be used to highlight letters, stories, special events, etc. You can vary the information contained in your newsletter based upon the events surrounding each issue.

Developing a family newsletter costs money, but there are ways you can minimize these costs by using some of these suggestions:

  • One newsletter per household and don't send out to those who are not interested.
  • Ask family members who are interested in receiving newsletters to contribute, either with their time or a small donation. Every little bit helps!
  • Keep your newsletter format simple. Also consider how often you want to publish your newsletter (every month, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.).
  • Use your computer (if you have one). Designing and storing your newsletter information is not its only use: you can also save plenty on postage and materials by sending your newsletter electronically to family members who have e-mail addresses!
  • Check online sources that will guide you in the creation of your family newsletter. You will find a treasury of information that will help you in developing a newsletter that will be enjoyed by all who read it.
Family newsletters are a wonderful way to keep communication within families strong-- they share the past, along with the present that will become part of our ancestral history. ©Deborah K. Millemaci - 2002
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.


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