John Fairman Preston: A missionary’s life in Pinterest Pins

OK, so I was curious to see just how far I could push Pinterest as a visual storytelling medium. I have to admit it works really well. This was my first attempt at creating a timeline narrative for an ancestor. So,not surprisingly, it took longer to do than straightforward writing.

The thing to remember about Pinterest is you can’t move pins around on a board (hint to Pinterest – this is something else I’d strongly suggest you tackle in the next round of development). Once you pin something on  a board, you’re stuck with it! So you really have to think about the order of things.

With Pinterest, the first thing you pin on a board will be the last pin that people will see.  And the last thing you pin on a board will be the first thing people viewing your board will see.  It’s a reverse order kind of thing.

When it comes to family history, our usual practice is to start with the birth and go through a person’s life until their death. It’s the exact opposite with Pinterest. Your first pin needs to be the death of the person you’re constructing this narrative about…and work your way backwards to their birth. I know, it’s counter-intuitive to the way we write about our ancestors or construct a narrative (unless you’re Benjamin Button). This might be another option for Pinterest to include – something to allow people to determine the sequencing order of pins (alphabetic, first pin last, first pin first, etc).

This pin on a board order business can be the very devil when creating a Pinterest board that acts as a sequential timeline. If you get one thing out of sequence , you have to start deleting things. This was the main reason why this attempt took me so long.

Trust me, stick with it. The end results can be pretty brilliant.

Here’s one I did for a distant Sheffey relation, John Fairman Preston. John and his wife Annie Shannon Wiley. They were missionaries in Korea from 1903 until around 1940. Their story, and that of their family, was too interesting to simply commit to print. I think the board conveys something of the exotic nature of their lives. I, for one, was amazed I could find photographs for the ships they sailed on!

Have a look.  I hope it inspires.

John Fairman Preston Pinterest board - click for largerimage.
John Fairman Preston Pinterest board

Here’s a link to the board:

3 thoughts on “John Fairman Preston: A missionary’s life in Pinterest Pins

  1. Brian, just found your blog and pinterest. JF Preston is my grandfather. I will certainly come back and read more of your thoughts and research with interest. By the way, he went by his middle name–Fairman. Times past, before spelling was formalized, he said it was pronounced “Furman” same as the university. Indeed, their lives in Korea, and later, after retiring in Georgia, were wonderful and inspiring.

    1. Hello Margaret. Thank you for your comment – lovely to hear from you.

      Fairman Preston inspired me to do something different, something more creative and visual in terms of narrative and storytelling. His life story certainly lent itself very well to Pinterest. Despite the hardships he and his family must have faced in the SE Asia of the early 20th Century, and his mission, there is a profound sense of the exotic. I hope I did it justice.

      There seems to be a theme of public service that runs through the extended Sheffey family. Education, politics, law and religion have all been popular career paths amongst the wider Virginian Sheffey family. My family wonder where I get my love of traveling to the more remote and challenging regions of the planet. lol I can now say I’m far from being the only Sheffey this applies to.

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