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February 10, 2013

Creating Memory Books on Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Creating Memory Books
Creating one of the McGinnis Memory Books
As you can imagine, I've been researching my McGinnis family for many decades. Part of my ongoing quest is researching all siblings on all generations back to the immigrant ancestor who came to Ontario Canada from Ireland in the 1830s.

The immigrant ancestor John McGinnis had 7 sons and 2 daughters that I've found so far, and most of them left Canada to settle in the USA. I'm sure you get the idea of how much data I have now on each generation of each branch!

Recently I decided it was time to organize and preserve my research - documents, photos and so on. I've wanted to do this for a very long time but keep re-thinking and changing my ideas on how best to accomplish this.

Finally last month I decided it was time. Make a decision and go with it! And I'm pleased to say that I've done that with the help of Shutterfly.

Making Decisions

My first decision was that these books are just for family. So I am comfortable with showing photos, documents and information for living people.

My second decision was that I would create one book (volume) for each generation starting with my father and working backwards.

Normally this is the stage of the process where I start second-guessing myself. I end up with several different ideas on how to best create the book(s) and as a result - I become bogged down in minutia and am unable to forge ahead!

With the encouragement of my husband who simply shrugged his shoulders and repeated (often) "Just set it up how YOU like it and do it!" I was able to minimize the internal "maybe this way is better" agonizing that I usually face.

Creating Different Volumes Within One Surname

My final decision was to create one title that would be used for each volume, and number the volumes starting with my father and working backwards. I know - one would normally number from the immigrant ancestor coming down the generations. But unlike my usual flip-flop over what was best, I simply made the decision and went with it. No looking bad, no second-guessing, no "gee I wish I'd done xxx instead of yyy" It was liberating!

Having one book for each generation worked well for me. I forged ahead quite quickly, gathering my scattered documents and photos, uploading them to Shutterfly into "albums", one album for each volume I planned to create, and then inserting them into the appropriate books.

Using Albums in Shutterfly

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Shutterfly Albums
Once I had my photos and documents that I had uploaded into what I called McGinnis Album Dad inserted into Volume 1 (my father, mother and children) it was easy to write the text and photo captions that I wanted to add to each page. 

A hard lesson I learned after creating dozens of other books in Shutterfly was to carefully and precisely name my albums where my photos and documents were being uploaded.  I had not done this, instead leaving the default name/label which was simply the dates of the upload. That meant that I had to look through dozens of albums every time I wanted to move more photos from the albums to my books!

It took me awhile to figure out how to rename albums in Shutterfly so I urge you to name them with an identifier immediately. You can see in this photo on the right that I have not finished renaming all my original albums.

Organizing Pages Within the Book

I kept it simple. I started with the marriage of my grandparents, then the birth record of my father. The next several pages were devoted to information, photos and documents that pertained to my dad, up to his death. Items were placed chronologically for ease of reading. The nice thing about Shutterfly is that it is easy to rearrange pages if you need to add or move a page.

I allowed 2 pages for some photos of myself and my siblings, but I already have a book I created about us so I didn't need to go into details in this project.

After my dad's section was complete, I created pages for each of his siblings. Some siblings only have one page as I don't have much information on them. Some have many pages.

Consistency & Organization

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog - Shutterfly Book Backgrounds
Backgrounds for my book theme
Consistency is my downfall. On this project, which incorporates 5 volumes on one family (McGinnis) I knew I could easily slip into a freer less-consistent method of organizing the books. It was important to me that each volume had the same look and feel, so I created a plan on paper ahead of time.

My plan listed what fonts and text colours I wanted to use. I chose one book style (theme) to use for each volume.  I listed my method of organizing within each book - parents, then child who was my direct ancestor, then siblings of direct ancestor.

As I began to create each volume, I listed what records I had, and what I should get if I didn't already have it. This included census records, vital statistics and so on. Then as I added those documents I ticked them off on my list.

This is the most organized I've ever been on a project and it helped me to finish two volumes very quickly.  The photo you see above is the volume for my great-grandparent Alex McGinnis and I'm almost finished! The volume for my dad has been ordered. The volume for my grandfather is done but not ordered.  I'm amazed at how quickly these are coming together, and very excited to carry on with other family surnames.


DearMYRTLE said...

Thanking for explaining your process, down to pre-planning the colors and fonts. I especially enjoy seeing how you "got there" in a project. Your ancestors would be proud of the creative way you've told their stories.

Lynne Carothers said...

This was a great explanation of your process. I have made many Shutterfly books over the years but none yet for family history research. They are in the future, I hope. I had not thought about doing several for each family line and so the process seemed really overwhelming. Now I just might be able to get things accomplished!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Lynne that is exactly why I kept putting off getting my McGinnis and other family names done.

I had so much information that it was overwhelming! Also the books got too big to be something that I thought family would even want to look at.

That's why I try to keep each book to 25 pages or less. It becomes an easy-to-pick-up and glance at book

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Pat, thank you! It took me along time to get a method down that worked for me but now I'm on a roll

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Lorine, looks very attractive & easy to pick up and browse through. It is nice that you explained each step. I have done photo books through My Publisher of recent family events like weddings, holidays & trips. I will give your idea lots of thought for the future. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Huesca Tully said...

I've thought of doing this for a long time, but that perfectionism you talk about keeps getting in the way. Your husband was right on the mark. Thanks for the inspiration and the step-by-step process. This post will be my "how-to" manual when I start my own albums.

Donna Wood Wetsel said...

I have used Shutterfly for 5 years, making family calendars at Christmas time and photo albums (with little stories attached) of grandchildren. I have been completely satisfied with the final product, and it was not as expensive as one might think.
I've also spent hundreds of hours putting together "scrapbook type" history books, which have been costly and time-consuming. Thanks for sharing your experience about Shutterfly. I'm rethinking my ideas now about how to do family history books.

CollProf said...

Brilliant ideas, thanks. I too have been pondering how to begin "the book" of family. Now it seems more manageable.

The Grandmother Here said...

What made you choose Shutterfly over Ancestry?

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Shutterfly has much nicer templates and themes to choose from AND more importantly perhaps -- they will not create books that are being shipped to Canada.

Loretta said...

This is a wonderful idea! I actually tried it the first time last year, using Canada Photobooks as I had a Groupon coupon. I made a huge book for my Mom and she loved it, using her Grandparents on both sides of her family, and lots of lovely photos. It was such fun, I recently tried a Shutterfly book, similar to yours. I have to blog about it, as I just received it last week. I adore Shutterfly. I just found your website through searching for the 1921 Canada index so I'm now a follower.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Hi Loretta,

I love hearing that you've been creating books. Isn't it fun??

Glad you found my blog and thanks for following!


Judith Richards Shubert said...

I love this, Lynne! Thank you for leaving a comment about it on one of MediGroup's Google+ Discussions on scanning photos! This has been so helpful. Shutterfly makes great products and your books are beautiful. Your step-by-step is very, very helpful.

Dana Leeds said...

This is great! I'm going to try to create a nice, short, family book about an immigrant family for an upcoming reunion. I really need to keep in mind to keep it SHORT! And, to not second guess my decisions! Thanks for the tips.