I fell into using a desktop publishing package quite by chance. In the village in which I was living a skilled resident had taken the local parish council newsletter, sent three times a year to all residents, and the parish church news, distributed six times a year, to church parishioners, and turned them into very satisfactory publications from the cutting and pasting of paper and photocopying that had been done before. He liaised with a helpful local printing company and the results were much appreciated by all. Then he came to leave the village. Who could take over? Who had the skills? I certainly didn’t but I was interested and stuck my head above the parapet and so with very little ceremony both jobs were passed to me. I purchased a copy of Microsoft Publisher, the parish council sent me on a morning’s training course, and with a couple of hours one-to-one training from the instigator of the two publications I was then on my own. A very steep learning curve followed. I took the whole thing fairly slowly, one step at a time. The parish newsletter was the easier of the two publications being four sheets of A4 printed onto two sides of A3 and folded down the middle. I had to get used to typing everything into text boxes which could then be moved anywhere on the page. I would turn these pages into a PDF put them onto a disk and deliver the disk to the printer. Back would come over a thousand professional looking copies and I was thrilled to bits.
The church magazine was more complicated as this was a 36 page A5 booklet with a card cover. I also received content in all sorts of formats which I had to juggle with. This was the publication that had me tearing my hair out at times but I just had to get on with it and so I became pretty reasonable, in the end, at getting Publisher to do what I wanted it to do. It is funny when you start out often as not the software package is in charge of the operator but gradually the tables turn and eventually I got the upper hand and I became very much in control of Publisher and now I just love what it can do for me.
Being interested in family history story telling I soon realised that the four page newsletter could become an eight page story about my family and so I created my first simple publication, which actually ran to 12 pages in the end, and I had half a dozen folded and stapled copies produced by the helpful printer, using black and white photographs. What an achievement – I was very pleased. Given the advances made since then both by me and by the easy availability of printing generally this all looks rather primitive now but I had made a start.
Now we fast forward several years and I have now moved and left behind the two publications that got me started and now I use Publisher for many things and I turned my attention to creating a family tree that I could distribute to members of the family. I wanted something a bit meaningful to those who may not have any preconceived ideas of what a family tree should look like and at the same time I wanted to show younger members how their family name travels back in time, show them a few photographs on the way to aid their understanding and perhaps interest them in family history. At the top of this article you will see the result. This was produced, I have to admit, over a period of some considerable time as an A3 publication. I then sent it to a well known printing company in the Midlands and they turned it from A3 into A2 and I had five copies made to distribute. At the same time I had one special copy produced as a fine art print, using archival paper and ink, by Jayson Hutchins of Old Barn Framing Gallery in Sherborne, which I have had framed and is hanging on my wall. I am very pleased with these results.
If you would like to give it a go and create your own very personal family tree, you will find a PDF giving details of how I went about this on our website.
If anyone has found other methods of creating and printing their own family trees we would love to hear about it from you – please make contact via firstname.lastname@example.org.