Sunday, February 18, 2007

READERS' FEEDBACK: Paper vs. online newsletters

DearREADERS,
In December 2006, Ol' Myrt here posted a topic to her blog
http://www.blog.dearmyrtle.com
that referenced a gentleman who was hoping to solicit interest in a paper-only format for his surname. I posed the following questions to readers:

1. Would you personally prefer a hard copy or a digital version of a newsletter to save or print out on your own computer?

2 Do you think that more people will benefit from the newsletter in hard copy or via the internet?

THANK-YOUR, dear, thoughtful readers for your replies. The majority of responses are represented below:

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RUNNING OUT OF ROOM - ONLINE IS BEST
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From: Patricia.A.Crossett@Dartmouth.EDU
DearMYRTLE,
Online, definitely. I am interested in the data, not the paper holding the data. We have too small a house for all the pieces of paper that I need to verify family history data, but have a nice hard disk which stores images as well as text beautifully and is great source storage.

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WE'RE USING COMPUTERS TO DO GENEALOGY ANYWAY
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From: Mary Ward thatsme2@pahrump.com
DearMYRTLE,
Digital format is much more convenient for the majority of us. Source documentation is therefore already in our computers, saving us the time/effort to scan the information. It would also lower the cost to us. Perhaps the gentleman could offer both - that would be the best of both worlds. I personally would not even consider subscribing to a "paper" newsletter anymore. Keep up the great work Myrt - I gain much knowledge from you. Thank you so much!!

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CONTRIBUTORS RECEIVE FREE ACCESS FOR 3 MONTHS
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From: Teresa Elliott Cheasa@bellsouth.net
DearMYRTLE,
I was a member of the Users Group of Virginia for TMG [The Master Genealogist] for a few years. Their newsletter is online and requires a password to access. I never gave out the password to anyone and while I was a member, I wrote articles for which my membership was extended for a period of time based on the number of articles. Perhaps this gentleman could do the same. If a family member writes an article, give them 3 months free. Personally I think $30-40 is a little high though, more like $15-20 would be reasonable.

There's no guarantee that with paper, I won't subscribe, copy it and pass it out to my cousins either. People have been doing that for years too. And in this day and age, anyone interested in genealogy enough to read his newsletter will either have a computer, or have access to one (most libraries offer this service for free.)

Now I personally prefer paper. But as you said, I can print it out of that is what I want. It would certainly be cheaper to produce, which means more profit in his pocket if he would put it online.
Teresa Ghee Elliott
--
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~rutherfordcemetery/
All I want for Christmas is to know who is George's father is... I've been good.

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MORE PEOPLE CAN FIND IT ON THE INTERNET
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From: Jasskirv@aol.com
Interesting concerns, that this gentleman worries about non-computer readers who, I suspect would be older persons, like myself, who have come late to the electronic age. To answer your questions:


1. I am getting very bad about getting my papers in order and tend to file things in the wrong place, so a digital version which I could save in an appropriate file, would probably be best for me. BUT, I really, really, prefer to read things on paper, so if I found the newsletter interesting enough, I would probably print out the parts I wished to read away from the computer.

2. I think my answer to the above covers this. I think more people would find the newsletter if published on the Internet, but so many of us who are retired on limited incomes, might be resistant to subscribing to anything that costs very much.

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QUERIES PROVIDE BREAKTHROUGHS
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From: rutucker@cfu.net
DearMYRTLE,
My thoughts on this topic are the "more the merrier". I would certainly encourage people to publish their information in as many media as they are able. I don't view my research, even copies of documents I have obtained, as my personal possessions. Even though I have spent time and possibly money (much of my information and documentation has resulted from contact with generous persons), anything I have I want preserved for future generations and feel it should be available to as many persons as possible.

If I can share my papers, I am paying back those generous persons who have shared with me without accepting any compensation.

I have had two very unexpected contacts with persons who have found queries in the last couple years that I placed on newslists in 1996 when I first went online. If that contact had not been out there in cyberspace, I would have possibly never found the family of a sister (Elizabeth Matthews who married ( ) Muma) of my g-g-grandfather who remained in Canada when the family came to Illinois about 1840. A kind gentleman in Canada found my query when he was searching the Coleman name (a surname in the family) and has provided me with reams of documents from the Canadian archives near his home, refusing any compensation for copying or postage or time. I now have documents for her. She had married and stayed in Canada raising a large family. There are many descendants of hers still living in the area. It has become a very enjoyable correspondence with a possible Coleman cousin. Elizabeth's mother was a Coleman. We're still working on that line.

Another instance was the lost information of my g-grandfather on my father's side in Illinois. I always had a question of why I couldn't locate any information on my g-grandmother's family, Breivogel/Brochwogal. This was answered by a unknown cousin's daughter who saw my query in 2001, and provided ship list information and obituaries as well as other contacts of the Hildebrandt family in Illinois of which I had no knowledge. My g-grandfather and Ida had been married near Berlin, Germany, and 2 days later left for the United States on a ship bound for New Orleans. They were accompanied by 2 of his sisters and their families. Opened up a who new line for me. We shared information which helped plug some of those holes I had previously struggled to locate.

I've rambled on long enough. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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CHEATERS WILL FIND A WAY
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From: Jffoltzgen@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
I agree online is quicker and easier. In regard to sending it to others to avoid the subscription fee, what precludes someone from photo coping or scanning the paper newsletter and mailing it to someone else? Most genealogists have computers or they would miss out on a valuable resource. A computerized version would attract a larger audience. He can scan original source documents. He could control website access to paying customers.

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CD FORMAT TO KEEP COSTS DOWN
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From: jloudon@nc.rr.com
DearMYRTLE,
I am an old bird but now love the computer. I know how to add the graphics to the newsletter so doing it digitally is better for me. In a genealogy group I made calendars for all the members and printed them out. This cost me $300 which the group reimbursed me but it cut into the funds available for the group. Next year we will post each month as it goes and if someone wants to print the calendar I will burn and send a CD and they can go to local shop and print themselves.
I take stories we have found and do a scrapbook page and print 8.5 x 14.


We have a monthly newsletter which is all words. Most of the group are better researchers and I am only one with any knowledge of graphics or the programs to do it in.

Example of one month - [SPECIAL Thanks to MARCIA for sharing. The blog version of this column provides a link to this sample page <http://www.dearmyrtle.com/07/0219april.jpg> from Marcia's scrapbook page. VERY GOOD WORK, Marcia!]

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)

DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy
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Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

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