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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writing a Family History Book

A couple of years ago for Christmas I decided to make a family history book for my children.  It was quite involved and took several months to finish.  It included stories and lots of  pictures of ancestors clear down to the marriage of our children.  It seemed like such a huge project but it was so worth it.

My husband is not someone who likes to write.  It was not easy to corral him to get info and stories from his side.  We took a couple of long trips to visit family.  While he was stuck in the car, I set up my computer on my lap and had him dictate to me something about each of his ancestors.  We started our book with our grandparents (the great grandparents of our children).  I wanted pictures and stories for each ancestor.  I also wanted both my husband and I to write our life history.  That meant that my husband was responsible for 4 grandparents, 2 parents, and himself.  His grandparents on his paternal side were gone when he was young so he didn't have much to say about them except from what others had told him.  He wrote a little more about his maternal grandparents and quite a bit about his parents.  I told him that he would probably only write one personal history so he was to say everything he wanted to say about his life.  He also included some life experiences and things he wanted to say to his children.  We got all of his parent's and grandparent's histories written in the car but time ran out when trying to write his personal history.  We did about half in the car then he took a little tape recorder with him to work every day and recorded the remaining history.  I transcribed it later.

I also wrote a history on my grandparents, parents, myself, and a history of our life together as husband and wife and parents of our five children.  I got 2" binders for each child and one for us.  I included a pedigree chart at the beginning.  Then I started with the grandparents.  Besides their pictures,I included a family group sheet showing them as a child and as a parent.  Then came their history.  I did my husband's side first, which included his family group sheet as a child and his history with his pictures, then I did my side.  This was followed by a family group sheet of our family, our family history, and finally many picture pages of our family from the first child to the fifth.  I showed pictures of ouf family up to the marriages of all five children.

It was so rewarding doing this project.  It took time but it was quite enjoyable reliving memories of our parents and grandparents and even our lives.  How fun it was to revisit pictures of our family.  Our children seemed excited to get the books and especially the family pictures.  Being someone who loves genealogy, I feel relieved that I finally got these stories in print and the pictures available to each child. 

I remember many more stories that I wish I would have included.  I have decided to add them to my "personal history".  I get many of the topics for my personal history from questions found in "Journal in a Jar".  I have a loose leaf binder available to keep these stories and pictures along with other memorabilia that I wish to keep.  I am not a good scrapbooker so I do the loose leaf journaling instead.

If you want to give your family a treasure, give them their heritage.  Make a Family History Book with pedigree charts, family group sheets, stories, and pictures.  Get your family involved in their own personal history.  Start them on their way to knowing and loving genealogy by having them start with themselves.  Journaling and genealogy can be quite fun.  Sometimes you just have to open the door to the past to show the way to the future. 

I find it quite pleasurable to sit down and read a good history book.... a real history book - because it is the history of MY FAMILY!  My next project - write life stories about other ancestors - further back.  I have found the most interesting things about even the most simple of my ancestors.  I used to hate history in school but now I find I want to know more about each era.  What were the people like?  How did they live?  How did their surroundings affect their interests and behaviors?  I can't wait to get started!

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