Sunday, December 31, 2006

Creating A Family Story Book

Family history is an increasingly popular hobby activity, and an interesting variation on this theme is the use of research time for creating a current family story. The problem with family history is that it can be tough to trace. Some people have the ability, money, and luck to find out about ancestors centuries past. Others will get stuck after only a generation or two, which can be frustrating.

An alternative is to spend time working on a family story that will cover the current members. You can create this story as a narrative and then turn it into a book for the entire family to enjoy. The best way to get started is to sit down and determine who to include. Perhaps you want to start with your parents or grandparents and include only their children and grandchildren, or you may want to expand to include their siblings as well. It depends on how large your family and how well you know them. Also think about ex-spouses, stepchildren, and all of the variations of family members there are out there.

Once you have determined the scope of the project, you can begin to decide how you will go about it. Start with the basics. Gather birth information on everyone involved. This information should include the parents, the place, date, and time of birth, the size of the baby. If you can find newspaper announcements for the births, then you should copy them as the first exhibits in your book. You also will want to collect any death information on deceased family members who will be in your book.

Now that you have the basics, start to piece together the story. There are a couple of ways you can about creating the story. First you can tell it as a narrative. Second, you can give each person a page or section but make them pretty separate from the information on the other pages. This approach works best if you are able to find out a lot of detailed information. Some older folks can give you wonderfully rich stories about their lives while others are not as open. You could start with how the prime couple in the book met. Tell their story and then move on to each of their children.

Include a chapter on their children, who will probably be your parents or grandparents. Tell about how they were as small children and about how they behaved, where they went to school, and what their lives were like. Include as much rich information as you can about their childhoods.

Then you can break the book into chapters by talking about each child as an adult. Here you would include information on the spouse and children of each person and weave together the same elements of the story for each of them. Once you are done with the story, you should gather newspaper clippings of wedding announcements, articles, and anything else you can find. Include family photographs as well. Put all of this information together by printing out the written documents with places to include the pictures and other items. Use double-sided tape to put the pictures onto the original paper and use glue or another adhesive for the newspaper copies you have made.

You can take the pages to a local printer to get it bound and printed. If you are planning to get numerous copies, you may want to look online for print on demand publishers. You should be able to find one that will make the books for a decent price. Then you can order as many copies as you would like and even have them shipped. If you want everyone else to buy copies, then you simply put the item for sale and send them the link. It is a simple process that will make a lasting book of memories for everyone in your family.

This type of project is one that takes much love and consideration. It is not something that you can or should do quickly. Instead you should savor the time you have to spend with your family story and make it one that everyone will enjoy and that will be great for generations to come.

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