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August 19, 2010

Creating A Family Tree Booklet

A few days ago I talked about my surprise that my nephew did not know about my mother and father's (his grandparents) double wedding ceremony in 1936. That story is at The Things Family Don't Know 

His surprise at finding this out made me realize I know a lot of things that other family members don't. And I have a lot of items - newspaper clippings, photos and so on, that other family members have probably never seen.

It seemed to me I needed to start creating family booklets which contained all this information. That's not as easy or quick as it might seem, because I have become the unofficial keeper of the family papers and photographs. It started when I was about 16 and my grandmother gave me her "stuff". Every time someone in the family passed away, their "stuff" ended up with me. I'm not complaining, but it's a lot of "stuff" to sort and organize before it is ready for a booklet.

Several readers have asked me how to create such a booklet - what do you include, how big do you make it, etc. I've completed one on my McGinnis family which I'll be giving to my brother and nephew today. Here's how I tackled it:

1. Decide what your focus is for your booklet. I wanted to provide photographs and newspaper clippings plus a few documents for my generation (my siblings and I), my parents, my McGinnis grandparents, my great-grandparents and my great-great grandparents. You could focus simply on your generation and your parents, the choices are endless.

2. What size will your booklet be? I made mine on 8.5x11 inch paper, portrait orientation.

3. How many pages will you include? I didn't decide on a specific number other than less than 25 pages. I just kept adding photos until I decided I was done. Actually in my case, my LaserJet Printer ran out of black ink and that ended my project.

4. Think about your audience. What format will you use for your booklet for that audience? Since my booklet won't be in the hands of any avid genealogists, I wanted it to be easy to read, not too many dry facts, and appealing enough to be looked at more than once.

I decided to do brief write-ups on the first 3 generations down to my parents, each write-up giving a few basic facts interspersed with images. I used a program called PictureIt! to create these pages.

First Generation Story

So I talked a bit about my Irish McGinnis family coming from Ireland to Ontario during the Famine. I gave some details from various census and land records (but not too many! I kept in mind that no one in my family but me is a fanatical genealogist)

When I got to my parents' section, I started adding photographs, the more the better.

The Double Wedding
I tried to focus just on our direct male ancestor and not get side-tracked by siblings or spousal lines. Adding photos and documents for siblings and spouses would have meant creating a huge book, not a booklet. For myself and my siblings I didn't provide any text, just photos.

My next section was a scrapbook type section, created in Picassa using the Collages feature.

Scrapbook Section: Mother's Early Years
I created several pages of scrapbook photos complete with captions. These pages were focused on my mom and dad and my siblings and myself.

Some things I mulled over were whether or not to include death certificates. I decided against it because I felt that my family members would not want to read such an item (again - they are not die-hard genealogists!) These are all personal decisions and keeping in mind who will be receiving your booklet helps you make a decision appropriate for that audience.

One item I added was a family tree chart of head shots of our ancestors. It doesn't follow our McGinnis line exclusively because I only have some ancestors' photographs. So these were the ones I put in my chart.

Family Tree Chart
Last, I created a cover page on card stock, laminated front and back and then bound the entire booklet together with a coil spine.

Booklet Cover
Here is an example of the finished product (two pages from the completed booklet) which will be given to my brother and nephew today.
Final Product - Coil Bound Booklet


Barbara Poole said...

Perfect, and we should all follow your lead. Thanks for sharing your wonderful Family Tree booklet.

Kristin said...

interesting. i should do something like this for christmas for my sister and our children.

USNchic said...

Oh, this would be a fantastic Christmas gift! Thank you for sharing!

Geniaus said...

What a great gift idea for the family. Thanks for sharing

Geniaus said...

What a great gift idea for the family. Thanks for sharing.

Mary said...

Very well done!! A great Idea!! Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I have created several booklets for various family lines. You have given me some new ideas though. I struggled with what to put in and what to leave out. Generally, this kept the booklet from ever getting out. I like your ideas about how to streamline the process. How long did yours take to make?

Genealogy Blogger said...

I neglected two items in my post. I printed my booklet myself rather than take it to a printer. It took me a week to create, working a couple of hours each day. The booklets were well received yesterday!

Ginger Smith said...

Thank you so much for sharing your examples! I can't wait to try this out for myself :-)

Margaret Harris said...

I love the idea of these little mini-booklets; the idea of getting information into the hands of other family members is golden. I think that if I could get my documents and photos organized, it would be much easier to do a project like this!

Leslie said...

This sounds really interesting. I too was the recipient of my grandmother's "stuff". With it and the things I've collected myself over the past 20 years I too have a lot of "stuff" that I am trying to organize, analyze, and share. I just started blogging about my Family History in the last few days and am finding your blog extremely helpful. Thank you.