This newsletter, for and about family newsletters (and their publishers), was established to support the family publisher who wants to help maintain family connections with their publications. We welcome articles from folks who'd like to share their ideas with the rest of us about what has worked in their publications and what hasn't, so that we can learn from their experience. We are interested in ideas about both the printed word and electronic newsletters. We will periodically be adding new information to this page, so check back regularly. To contribute to Family Newsletter News, email your article to <firstname.lastname@example.org> We welcome all questions and suggestions.
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© Copyright 2000 Jeanne Nelson
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Illustrations on this page from
and TURNER INK
Interview By Jeanne Nelson
This man knows what he's doing! Shortly after a review of my book about publishing a family newsletter appeared in the Kansas City Star newspaper, I received a copy of J. Paul Turner's family newsletter, TURNER INK, in the mail. I was extremely impressed with it. The layouts were sophisticated, the content was fascinating--it was just a lovely publication any way you cut it. I was very clear that I wanted to pick this man's brain. As I communicated more with J. Paul, I found that we shared quite a number of thoughts about what a family newsletter should and can be for a family. And so I thought it best if he told us all something about his publishing experience.
Name: J. Paul Turner
Q: What got you started publishing your family newsletter?
A: As I approached my 40th birthday, I began to ask questions of my parents that took me on a fascinating journey of family stories. From that quest, my parents and other members began giving me family documents, photos, and artifacts. I'm not sure what prompted me to start asking questions at age 40, but it was probably from my historical DNA that just started kicking in at that age. I wish it had been age thirty!
Q: What factors have kept you
going in your efforts to publish for the family?
Q: What are three things that
you enjoy most about family newsletter publishing?
Q: What are three things that
you enjoy least about family newsletter publishing?
Q: What has been one of your biggest
stumbling blocks to getting your newsletter out?
Q: What seems to have helped deal
with that stumbling block?
Q: What aspect of your newsletter do
you feel best about? How did you accomplish that?
Q: How do you handle the costs of publishing
a family newsletter?
Q: What are some secrets that you can share
with us about controlling (a) printing costs, and (b) mailing costs?
Q: What direction(s) do you see your family
newsletter taking in the future?
Q: What words of advice would you give to folks
who are currently publishing a family newsletter?
Q: What words of advice would you give to folks
who are contemplating publishing a family newsletter?
(J. Paul has graciously told us that a free back issue sample of his newsletter is available upon request, as long as supplies last. You can contact him at <email@example.com>.)
7 March 2000
Every Reason in the World...
It pains me at times, when
I think about the wonderful family stories we are losing every day as our
older generation passes away. For hundreds, even thousands of years, families
had a connection with their past in the oral traditions passed down from
generation to generation. They told stories as they worked together, or
hunted together, or as they sat around the campfire or the fireplace. In
some small way, I had that as a child, too, when I attended the extended
family gatherings we had for holidays. After a satisfying meal around my
grandmother's large dinner table, my grandparents and parents and aunts
and uncles told stories and laughed until the tears flowed.
Our family had that wonderful communication for many years, but lost it as we went our separate ways and lived our separate lives. We still loved each other, but time and distance made it hard to share with each other frequently. We finally decided to start a family newsletter and have found a new world of stories with each issue that comes out. Not only do we keep up on each other's daily lives, but we are able to share our stories. And, not only can we share them, but they are down in black and white where we can read them over and over, and our children can read them and learn about their past.
The most enthusiastic supporters of my family's newsletter have been our older generation. When asked, they enthusiastically produced some fascinating articles about their memories of times gone by. One of our best newsletter issues was focused on the experiences of our elders during World War II. We learned for the first time about the loneliness and tedium of the daily life of the soldier, periodically punctuated by the terrifying violence of war, or the fascinating and confusing exoticness of new and distant places. We learned about the all-out effort at home, the sacrifices and inconveniences, the worry as the family waited for word of their soldiers. And, though we had read about that war many times in the history books, it took on a whole new perspective as we saw it through our loved ones’ eyes.
I have written a book on how to edit and publish a family newsletter, and I sell it at genealogy workshops and meetings. As people come by my table, they often stop to look, but then sigh that they just don't have enough time for such a project. “That's a lot of work!” they say. I point out that there are ways to publish a newsletter in which the whole family shares in the effort, making less of a workload on any one person. It is a lot of work to put out a family newsletter. But what you end up with is a family treasure. Something that is worthwhile usually does require an effort. This is definitely worthwhile and the treasure far outweighs the effort.
The teacher of one of my genealogy classes pointed out to us that it is very exciting to see how we are related to King George. But the records to prove this have been there for three hundred years and will probably be there for three hundred more. The stories that our older folk have to tell us won't be here long—they could be gone tomorrow. Better that we focus on our elders and help them tell their stories now. We can go back to our musty books and records when the stories are saved for posterity.
4 February, 2000
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