London 1984. We lunched with the Duke of Norfolk at the Savoy, along with nine others whose family histories were finalists in the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogic Studies' once-in-a-century contest. The family history I wrote, with the fabulous help of many, many family members, was the only American entry chosen as a finalist.
While in England, we spent time in Sheffield and Pilley, the places I wrote about in the book. Before leaving Yorkshire, I placed a copy of the history in the Sheffield library. And that made all the difference. During the writing of the history, I didn't make up a single event; I didn't fictionalize. Every item had a source outside myself. Yet, some time after leaving that book in the local English library, I received a letter from a man claiming Thomas Wilkinson had not married Mrs. Elizabeth Haxworth as stated in the book. I wrote back asking for proof. He sent it in the form of a family letter that proved beyond a doubt he was right.
Now, if you were to go to the parish registers as I did, you would feel confident that Thomas did marry this particular Elizabeth. But a family document in Sheffield, England absolutely disproved it: a document totally unknown and unavailable to me. If I had not published this book and left a copy in England, I would still believe Thomas married Elizabeth. This is one reason responsible genealogists publish their findings in one form or another, to correct information.
There are additional reasons. By publishing, you save others from duplicating your efforts. People who are not the least interested in doing research may be very interested in knowing more about their families, and they may donate money to help you continue. In addition, by publishing, especially on the web, long-lost relatives will contact you with new information. The truth is, if you're going to do the work, you might as well publish it. Publishing is Step 7 of the research cycle. There are several ways of doing it.
Probably the most effective way to publish your research in this day and age is to put it up on a website. That way, when someone does an Internet search for a name on your pedigree, your site will come up and new history can be made. Richard Wilson has done a comparison of genealogy web pages. Go to his site at http://rwilson.us/compare.htm After studying his examples, you can decide whether web publishing is right for you, and if so, which format best fits your needs.
If you have lots of history to go with your pedigree, you may want to type your information into a book format. Then you can go to www.lulu.com or to Amazon.com where you can print and sell on demand. Every time one of your books sells, you will get a commission. The benefit of selling your family history through sites such as these, is that you don't have to print a gazillion copies or reprints of your books and keep them in your garage. Finally and at last, an accredited university is offering a Ph. D. for writing a family history. Like all Ph.D.s it takes much work and at least four years.
Historians still publish books with frequency. Gateway Press, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland published the family history that took us to the Savoy. Ask for Ann who helped us bring our history to fruition so many years ago. Write Gateway Press, 1001 N Calvert St. Baltimore, MD 21202. Another company specializing in local and family histories is Anundsen Publishing Co. To find others, simply purchase a genealogy magazine at your nearest book store and look at the ads. At the very least, gather your hard won information into some kind of format, burned onto a CD or typed onto paper, and donate a copy of it all to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, no matter where you live or what your subject. If you want to make connections with others working on the same lines, your research must appear in the Family History Library catalog. I also recommend presenting copies to your local and state historical societies. So many times, when researchers die, their research dies with them, destroyed by those who have no idea of its value.
Step 7 in the research cycle is this: if it's worth doing, it's worth sharing. Publish!
LaRae Free Kerr's website is under construction at http://www.grundyec.net/~itsallrelatives/ and will soon include a copy of the index of the Wadsworth book as well as an address where it can be purchased.
Other Articles in the Series:
Step 1: Genealogy Can Be A Cheap Hobby
Step 2: Documentation Saves Pedigrees
Step 3: Family Records Are the Best!
Step 4: Survey Sets Up Research
Step 5: How Many Marys Did David Merry Marry?
Step 6: Genealogy Detecting
Step 8: Evaluate and Decide