Out on a Limb: Custom Publishing

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Editors tend to create magazines that they themselves would like to read. Heck, if we didn’t we might as well be doing something easier, like brain surgery. (Just kidding, doc.) But this issue of Family Tree Magazine resonates with my family history interests and challenges so strongly it might as well be called Fryxell Family Tree Magazine.

I don’t think it’s just me, however. Take, for example, our cover story on finding your female ancestors, by contributing editor Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, author of the bible on this subject, A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestors (Betterway Books). Until recently, my Fryxell family tree hit a dead end with my grandmother, Olga Lundeen, as well as with my grandfather’s mother, Hannah Jern. Because of maiden-name mysteries and the masculine tilt of most of history’s record-keeping, your pedigree probably has similar gaps. Carmack shows how to start solving the puzzles of the women in your family.

My mother’s side of the family, meanwhile, has become clearer because of e-mail collaboration with umpteenth-cousins I discovered using some of the networking sites Nancy Hendrickson describes in “The Cousin Connection.” Besides the breakthroughs we’ve made sorting out our mutual ancestors from 18th-century North and South Carolina, it’s been fun building long-distance friendships. If you haven’t yet sought out distant cousins whose research may overlap yours, flip to our feature and fire up your modem right away.

We explore another exciting reason to go online in our look at two new sites that promise to put census pages just a mouse-click away. When the 1790 census was the first to go online at one of these sites, you can bet I dialed for clues to those elusive Carolina kin. If you’ve ever gotten bleary-eyed studying census microfilm and thought there’s got to be a better way, you’ll want to read our exclusive review of these new sites.

I also share a problem with Maureen Taylor, author of our story on building a family photo collection: My family seems to have been camera-shy. You too probably have at least one line of your family that’s not well-documented in pictures. Don’t give up! Taylor offers expert tips for filling these empty pages in your family album.

Finally, though I don’t have any direct Jewish roots (that I know of), I’ll be sending this issue’s guide to Jewish genealogy to my Fryxell cousin whose mother’s side is Jewish. And I might even have the courage to start planning a family reunion, now that I’ve got this issue’s 10-step reunion-survival manual. If you’re already in the throes of family reunion preparation, you might want to turn to page 34 before cousin Madge calls again to complain about the catering budget.

In each issue of Family Tree Magazine, we try to have something for everyone who’s interested in discovering, preserving and celebrating their family history. I know this issue hits the mark with at least one small segment of our target audience — ahem, me. 

Our goal, after all, is that whether your family is, say, Smith, Kowalski or Fernandez, you’ll think of every issue as the Smith Family Tree Magazine, Kowalski Family Tree Magazine or Fernandez Family Tree Magazine. Let us know how we’re doing.

From the April 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine