Organize your Family Book

FullSizeRender (6)It’s nearly the end of my year-long project of writing about my family. For my faithful followers on this journey, I hope you have made progress toward completing a book about your family too. Next month I will suggest some ideas for printing and completing your book to give to family members for the holidays.

For now, it’s time to look at what we have written and collected, to make sure we have gathered all the pieces that will make this book a family heirloom.

I have selected ten people to write about for my book: my two parents, my four grandparents, two of my great-grandparents and my two sisters. These are the people I have photos of and whom I can write stories about that I remember from personal experience or that were told to me by my parents and other relatives.

Now it’s time to collect all the items I have for each person and organize them in one place. I always start with a three-ring notebook. I three-hole punch each item and place the photos and documents I have collected in plastic sleeves (with three holes on the side) that I can add to the chapters about each person.

Here is how I am laying out my book. For each chapter (one for each person) I will include:

  1. Photo (on a page by itself) with the name of the relative to be featured in that chapter
  2. Family tree that starts with me (at the bottom) and goes up and back in time as far as I have been able to research in genealogy records. The name of the person in the chapter is in bold. Most of my family trees go back to the 17th or 18th centuries, thanks to my sister’s diligent genealogy work. The tree lists for each person:
    • Name & dates of birth, death
    • Place & date of marriage
    • Name of spouse
  3. Timeline for the featured person in the chapter, including the dates and places of: birth, school graduations, military service, marriages, children, homes, employment, retirement and death. These are as complete as I can make them, but there are gaps in my great-grandparent’s listings.
  4. Stories about the relative that I have written, culled from my memories or events that were told to me.
  5. Photos of each person at various stages of life, with captions
  6. Certificates of birth, marriage, death, census records, honors, awards or photos of any pertinent memorabilia, such as furniture made by my grandfather and dresses made by my mother.

Now it’s time for you to lay-out your own book. You will quickly see where there are gaps and you can work on those this month. Keep going. You are almost there. This is a book that will be treasured for generations to come, and only you can do it.

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