This article is continued from Splitting our Historian 1: People.
The other side of the coin is our vast trove of genealogical information. Our five published Strong Family Updates volumes are only a small portion of the information we have collected and organized.
The SFAA is a genealogical society. One of the best ways to serve our membership and potential membership is to provide authoritative information regarding the Strong family and descendants. We have the information to be shared, but it’s just not that simple!
This is the quandary that I’ve been struggling with for years.
The Official Genealogy Database
Elisha and Mary A. (Strong) Richards
I remain convinced that our ideal situation would be to have one or more “official” genealogy databases, such as with Family Tree Maker. At any point in time, we can click a button and generate a new book with the latest information received. This book is in electronic form. It can be purchased and mailed out on CD, or even be put up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, EBay, etc. EBook publishing is definitely the way of the future AND it’s what the younger generation has come to expect.
The huge advantage of ebooks is that we don’t need to deeply cut our material. Our current published books, the five Strong Family Updates volumes, were very heavily condensed to keep the number of pages down. With ebooks, adding another dozen pages just does not matter. There is no additional cost!
With ebooks, we can (in theory) add any number of photographs and other research documentation. We can add stories and essays just as with the published volumes. We could include specific essays, for example, on Northampton and the Deerfield Raid of 1704.
The difficulty is that we do NOT have such a genealogy database. We need to create it, one name at a time, by hand. I’ve tried a number of ways to scan our material by computer and create the database, but the result is just not 100% accurate. That means the result is NOT acceptable! In short, we need to transcribe our thousands of printed pages, by hand, in to Family Tree Maker. Ultimately we need to do this… I don’t see any way around it.
Looking forward over the next 10, 20, or 50 years, our genealogy database allows us to enter new information as it is received. We can turn around and immediately publish the updated material for our membership.
To be sure, merely adding facts to Family Tree Maker is not the same as creating a publishable book. However, just getting the facts out in book form is a great start. We may have to leave the proper editing of those facts to a future generation! Our part is to ensure our future generation has those facts to edit.
Our Unpublished but Organized Material
We already have a lot of material which has not been published.
First, we have the “manuscripts in progress.” After publishing our Strong Family Updates books, we received additional information from our readers and new members. Our prior historians turned these into updated Updates manuscripts but they were never published.
Second, I have about 24 shelf feet of paper materials submitted by our membership over the decades. Much of this was original source material for the Strong Family Updates books. However, the material was very highly condensed to fit in the published books. It would therefore benefit our future to work through this material, folder by folder, gleaning all information suitable to be published. With electronic publishing there is no concern over the length of a book, or the length of a person’s bio. I, for one, would like access to all the information available!
Third, we have information sitting in the basements of our membership, particularly with our members who wrote the Strong Family Updates books.
Finally, we have the more recent information submitted.
We obviously can’t just dump this haphazardly upon our reading public. This is the quandary. Continue reading