The Digital Future of Prologue

For 48 years, since the Spring of 1969, the National Archives has published a quarterly magazine, Prologue, that has brought readers stories based on the rich holdings and programs of the National Archives across the nation—from Washington, DC, to the regional archives and the Presidential libraries. For many of those years, each issue also included a genealogy-focused article. The Winter 2017–18 issue will be the last printed edition of Prologue.

So, the question is, what next?

The National Archives is currently exploring options for online publishing with the goal of providing audiences with content that is most important to them. To that end, the National Archives is holding a focus group discussion with historians on Friday, February 2, 2018, from 1-2 p.m. in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives in Washington, DC, with an option to call in via conference line and video call via Google Hangouts. Space is limited. If you are interested, email Jessie Kratz at jessie.kratz@nara.gov.

Family historians (genealogists) have for decades been a core constituency of the National Archives and major user of its records (census, military, immigration, naturalization, and more), so I would encourage those who have enjoyed Prologue in the past, or have ideas on what they’d like to see in a NARA digital publication of the future, to attend the focus group in person or remotely. Or provide your thoughts by email. Either way, be sure to email Jessie Kratz at jessie.kratz@nara.gov.

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MVGS 2016 Writing Contest

The Mount Vernon (Virginia) Genealogical Society recently held a writing contest as part of its 25th anniversary events. Fifteen members submitted stories about their ancestors. A committee of fellow members evaluated all the entries and the winner was Claire Kluskens with a story entitled “Rev. William McCullar Was the Star Witness in a Murder Trial in 1814.”

Second place went to Sharon MacInnes with “Brunswick Tavern” while third was a tie between Sharon Hodges “My Black Sheep and a Wonderful Memory” and Jim Drewry for “A Timely Blue-Grey Friendship.”

Thank you to MVGS for the award, and I hope others will enjoy the story as well. Congratulations also to the other award winners.

Gen-Fed Tales of Discovery, 2016

Malissa Ruffner, Director of Gen-Fed, the unique week-long course on using federal records in the National Archives for genealogical research, recently posted a list of “Tales of Discovery” by members of the Gen-Fed Class of 2016. The discoveries they made were in original paper records that are not online and not on microfilm. Their findings broke through brick walls, shattered erroneous conclusions made by others, and enriched their understanding of their ancestors’ lives and times. Fabulous stuff.

There’s no substitute for going beyond the “easy” online pickings to the harder-to-find or harder-to-access offline material.

There’s not enough time in the day, or in one’s life, to research everything, so one strategy is to focus on those ancestors or family groups that are most dear to you, and learn as much as you can about them. And then publish–or your work will perish.

Storytelling Tips

Here are some useful writing tips from another blogger. Above all, do not be afraid to write. If you can talk, you can write!

There is storytelling, and then there is telling a story that makes sense (even years into the future–long after it’s written). Sometimes as Family Historians, we find that … click on “Storytelling Tips” for more.