The OurLetter Story

The Lawrence Family, circa 1977

OurLetter started as a family project. The goal was to get everyone back in touch.

None of us lived near each other. We all had kids and lives of our own. So I made a suggestion: what if we started a family newsletter, but with a few twists to make it easier?

The first twist was to put it on the web so that it could run itself.

The second was to answer by survey. Every month we'd all get a list of questions about our lives, like "how was your month?", "what shows are you watching these days?", "what do you remember about kindergarten?" All we'd have to do is answer the questions and the newsletter would be built for us. We could send pictures from the month, too, if we wanted.

My family was game and we gave it a try.

It worked! And some of the side effects came as a suprise.

  1. We got back in touch. We talked more, got together more and became more involved in each other's lives. When we got together we were already up-to-speed.
  2. Our monthly newsletter was turning into a family history. There were entries and pictures going back for years, covering births and marriages. The pictures showed the cousins growing from baby through elementary school. We weren't just building closer family ties, without realizing it we had gathered this treasure trove of family history.
  3. In-laws and friends started to ask if they could start a newsletter like ours. I thought: great idea! I'd love to start a family business that was all about families.

So here is OurLetter, the third version of that newsletter that started back in 2003. We're just getting rolling, but response has been terrific! I invite you to give it a try with your family—let me know what you think!

- Dave Lawrence