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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: Is Your Research All for Naught?
by Rhonda R. McClure

August 17, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

You've spent ten, twenty, maybe forty years researching your family history. Friends and family ask you when will you publish your work. You hedge with your answer. But why? With the wonderful advantages that the current technology offers, there really is no reason not to publish your work.

After all, think about how much time you are now spending online. As you discover a new surname or locality, you begin to look for clues on the Internet. Doesn't it make sense to use the Internet to publish your family history?

The Internet offers a wonderful publishing avenue for your genealogy.

Break Out of the Past

It used to be that when you wanted to publish your family history you needed it to be as complete as possible. After all, you didn't want to discover a new child that would force you to totally renumber your entire genealogy. Now, while you may need to reprint, it is not the catastrophe that it used to be when this would result in totally resetting the type before you could print again.

However, I know you are sitting there saying to yourself that you want your research to be as complete as possible. The reality is that genealogy will always be a work in progress. Publishing your family history may be the very way in which you make contact with individuals who can help you break through those brick walls.

Warning - Under Construction

If you are truly concerned that someone may take your family history, errors and all, and run with it, then you can always let the visitors to your site know by pointing out that you have made a work-in-progress available. Encourage them to contact you.

In today's high tech society, publishing your genealogy is easy to do. You've already done the hard part - the research. And you have the information entered into your genealogy computer program. So what's stopping you?

Revel in the Technology

Publishing your genealogy no longer requires endless hours of typesetting. With desktop publishing, it is easy to create a "camera ready" original that you can then get published. And publishing can be as simple as a velo binding on up to a hard cover book.

I have even heard of individuals putting their family history on a CD-ROM to share with fellow researchers. And if you think you don't have a place to post your family history, think again. Most of the areas on the Internet that cater to genealogists either have space themselves or they know someplace that does, usually for little or no money.

In Conclusion

The important point here is to publish your genealogy. Share it with your family, yes, but also put it in a format that can be accepted by the Family History Library. They won't take your twelve file cabinets full of research. But they will accept a published volume. And when you send them your genealogy, be sure to include permission to microfilm in your letter. This way folks around the world will have access to your genealogy.

And post it on the Internet. Imagine the number of people who will find you through such a simple act. You will reach more people than you ever imagined online. After all, how many new cousins have you sought out? Many, I bet.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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