Image of a collection of photos, letters, and artifacts. Words written on grey "Photos & letters captured lives lived of generations past. How will your stories be told."

Family historians, hooked on stories

These are stories of a family’s journey. Objects, letters, and voices take them through migrations, tragedy, and triumph to teach family lessons of empathy and resilience. These are the stories that matter to families today — and into the future. They're our responsibility to capture, preserve, and pass down.

At Projectkin, we’re here so we can do this together.

This community is a place for family historians of all ages, skills, and interests. We meet in an online forum and virtual events to share ideas, projects, and inspiration. We’re hooked on stories and eager to tell them in ways that will engage not only our siblings and children but also the generations of descendants to follow them.

We invent and refine creative ways to capture and preserve our stories. Re-imagined as PROJECTS we can explore ideas independent of vendors, we freely combining our narratives with media, maps, and more.

We’ve flipped the digital platform.

Instead of examining platforms for features and specifications, we focus on stories to be told and audiences to engage. At Projectkin, platforms, tools, and hacks are shared like tips between cooks. 👩‍🍳 👨🏼‍🍳.

Once a good solution is found, members share it with the community as a specific, how-to project “recipe.” These recipes follow a consistent template that anyone can understand, with ingredients, tips, and lessons learned. Using the Chat platform here on substack, community members can add comments and expand on them — perhaps even adding innovations.

What you won’t find.

We are truly platform-independent, so you will not receive a pitch on any platform, service, or tool. We’re not selling anything. That independence allows us to be both objective and creative.

Membership is simply a free subscription.

We welcome everyone at our public events, but only our members get access to recordings, resources, and “project recipes.” The value here is in the community, connection, and conversations.

Haven’t joined yet? Just drop your email 👇. That’s it. You’re in.

It’s a newsletter with benefits.

Dropping your email lets you receive our articles and recordings via email. If you want to circle back to create a password and a handle, you can join in on the conversation with an authenticated identity. This helps us keep the community healthy and avoid the noise of open sites like Twitter.

The forum uses Substack to manage emails and delivery. We believe the platform is well suited to Family History and have written about it in a section at

There are rules, though.

As my mother used to say, “Participation is a privilege.” In our modern, online world, written guidelines can be helpful so you understand what we see as appropriate here: 

1. Be kind and contribute. Listen to understand. Respond to support.

Our community works best when we listen to each other and helpfully engage with suggestions, tips, and resources. There are no points to score. Respecting opinions, perspectives, and life experiences is the starting point for thoughtful dialog and comments that contribute. 

2. This is no place for hate, threats, or fear.

We've seen how words can hurt, destroy, and undermine — especially online. That kind of behavior is not welcome here. If you engage in it, I'll remove it and block you from the community.

3. My judgment isn’t perfect. It’s what I have.

I may make mistakes in judgment about what violates our guidelines, and I am willing to discuss it offline. My goal here is to build a community, and all I have is my sense of what feels right. Kindly respect that.  

Once you join

I’ll send you a welcome email with background about what we do and how we do it. Email systems often filter this into Updates (Gmail) or something like that. You might need to search on “Welcome” and “Projectkin” to find it.

Here are a few tips to get started:
  • I always invite new subscribers to our exclusive member Chat section and introduce themselves. It’s a great way to get to know the community.

  • Since many of our members are new to Substack, and most of the Support section is written for folks planning to write their own Substacks, I’ve pulled together a section just for Substack + Family History. You’ll find background on using this stack, plus a recording of a tour we did for members.

Our Special Events Each Month

All events are hosted online via video conferencing, and so far, we’ve managed to offer them all for free. You can see a full listing of programs at Membership gets you a regular calendar update with details on special programs. These are our regular monthly events:

Kathy’s Corner
Project Recipes
  • Essentially, project show-and-tell with a documented recipe, these events started in September 2023. They give members a chance to show a project they’ve completed and talk about how they did it.

Project Clinics
  • These free-wheeling brainstorming sessions help members move from the spark of an idea to the tactics and techniques necessary to execute it. Often, these sessions lead to Project Recipes.

Special Topics & Events
  • We host a variety of special topics and events, such as our virtual RootsTech Party, Tours, and Tutorials on technical topics. These programs are open to everyone. Watch for our occasional special programs, too! Topics include book publishing, media, and family archives.

A dedicated Members’ Corner

Soon after launching in May 2023, the idea of a community of family historians started to attract a growing number of committed members. Most engaged in programming that focused on “how” to share stories. As we moved to Substack, many members wanted to share their stories using the platform but were intimidated by the burden of creating their own Substack newsletters.

In March 2024, we expanded with the addition of the Projectkin Members’ Corner, a dedicated section for publishing our members' family history stories. New cohorts of guest writers are added each month. Learn more and join us!

Hang on, how is this all free?

In the software business, there’s an expression that “if you aren’t paying for a product, then YOU are the product.” That’s a reference to platforms like Facebook or Google, which offer robust platforms for free in exchange for paid advertiser access to you and data about you. I’m not doing that here on Projectkin.

After a long career in startups, I have no interest in launching a new platform. Instead, I want to help more people be productive in capturing, recording, and sharing these important stories. Today, we have a remarkable array of tools at little or no cost, so why not take advantage of them to benefit a community?

Getting to self-sustaining operations

I’ve promised to make this endeavor self-sustaining over time. I’m not charging for my own time. I’ve added mechanisms to support operational contributions when I incur external costs.

  • Substack gives me email, video hosting, and a discussion platform for free.

  • I’m paying for my own productivity software and modest local taxes, fees, and insurance.

  • Eventbrite was the first platform to charge us, so I started leveraging their donations mechanism, but it was frankly awkward. Though our contributors were generous, we’ve dropped Eventbrite.

  • We now present all our events on our own Events page (and use Zoom for video conferencing.)

Unfortunately, this has meant that we now incur modest monthly expenses. To manage them, we now accept ad-hoc “tips” or contributions using a tip jar platform hosted at They accept credit card contributions on my behalf in increments of $5. Tips are always appreciated but never required.

Drop me a five-spot at

Substack also offers robust paid options, including a top-tier “supporter” level for one-time donations above $50. I will hold off on leveraging this until I can offer a modest gift in exchange for such contributions. (The “NPR model,” as a member put it.)

Who is this “we”?


. Like you, I’m a family historian, hooked on stories. I started wading into this community with my previous startup, As we wound down the platform, I realized that our subscribers had become my friends. What brought us together was now my mission too. So, in a post-Ponga world, I formed “Projectkin.” More about me on LinkedIn.

As I’ve gotten to know community members, I find myself thinking of the community as a collective and my language reflects it. At the end of the day, I’m the one responsible for this content, however.

In an online world, it can be hard to tell when a phrase or topic lands poorly, offends, or is inappropriate. If you have concerns or suggestions, please reach out to me. I’ve learned to rely on your candor. I appear personally here on Substack as both myself,

, and as the. You can also reach me via email at

I hope that gives you a sense of what Projectkin is all about. Feel free to reach out if you have comments, suggestions, or tips.

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We invent and refine creative ways to capture, preserve, and share our family stories. Won't you join us in FREE events, shared resources, and online conversations?


I'm @barbaratien and your "ringleader" for, a community of family historians hooked on stories. Together, we explore capturing, curating, and collaborating on family history stories in a modern digital world. ⮕ Join us?
Retired Professional Photo Manager working on her own family legacy and stories, and helping others do the same
Ringleader at, a community of family historians hooked on stories. I'm the one tossing packets at the Projectkin forum hosted on Substack at Join us?