Family History Month: Share Your Stories

This pandemic has lasted a long time, hasn't it? Like many people I have used some of this time to think about, and even start working on, some projects.
 

One of those projects started with a box of photos and family memorabilia. Some very old. Much unlabeled. 

I wanted to know more, so I started asking questions. I spoke to whatever family I could to learn more about our ancestors and our story. I dug into Ancestry and Newspapers.com and I started organizing all the stories.
Learn how to use Ancestry.com with your Oakland Public Library card.
 
There's a wall I hit when I get to the old countries. When my Jewish ancestors came to America from Eastern Europe their names changed and their language was not written on official documents. Many of the places they came from were destroyed, and any records that exist are in languages I don't speak and about names I don't know.
 

Still, though, a story starts to come together. It starts with blurry black and white images and passed down oral histories. It ends, for now, with me. I'm here now and I'm scanning my own old photos and growing nostalgic. I'm thinking about my own life so far and how we are all so tied together.

"But," I kept asking myself, "where do I put it?"
 
If I wanted these stories to be told, stories of all of the intersecting families in my life, and to seen by anyone, including members of those families, I needed to put them somewhere. And that felt complicated.
 
I had a moment of clarity when I remembered Biblioboard and Pressooks, platforms the library provides for self-publishing and reading self-published books by our neighbors.
 

Even as an OPL librarian, I can find myself surprised at the usefulness of some of the things we offer. I wasn't planning on writing a novel, so I didn't think much about Biblioboard for myself. This project, though, has made me realize that there is so much else that it is useful for.

October is Family History Month. I can't wait to get started, and I think this month is going to be a great time to start really putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) in honor of all families.

 
It won't be the first family story shared on Biblioboard. Here's one example I found. More importantly, I hope it won't be the last! 
 
If you are interested in sharing yours, I encourage you to get started.
 
With Pressbooks you can write and format your work directly. For free.
 
With Biblioboard you can share your work. You can share with family and friends and you can share with the broader community. For free.
 
Learn more about the power of these platforms, and exactly what you can do with them, in this previous blog post.
 
Family can take many forms. We have the family we were born into. We also have the families we create, the families that have chosen us, and the families we have chosen. Sharing our stories of family can be fun, powerful, hard, healing, joyful, and intense.
 
Free tools that help us share these stories make it, also, a bit simpler. Your stories deserve to be told.
 
       
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