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July 4, 2020

The Problem of Family Not Wanting Your Genealogy Research

Several years ago I came to the realization that no one in my immediate family wants my 40 plus years of research on our genealogy. A few are mildly interested in hearing the more exciting stories of blacksheep ancestors or famous relatives or an intriguing mystery. No one but me does actual research into our ancestors.

That means that my binders and file folders full of documents and charts are not something anyone is going to take and preserve when I'm gone. I'm sure many of you are facing the same problem. So...what to do?

My solution has been to create family books for each surname. I keep them short, no more than 30 pages for each book. Some surnames have multiple volumes and each volume is for one generation including children. These books are what I call "Coffee Table" books, meant to be picked up and thumbed through casually. Not all documents are included because that would turn into a book consisting of hundreds of pages! 

After publishing them on Shutterfly I give them as gifts at Christmas. That is one way the family stories and research might be preserved for future generations. If you are unfamiliar with Shutterfly I have a tutorial on using it on my Olive Tree Genealogy YouTube Channel.

Creating a Memory Book in Shutterfly (Tutorial 1)

Creating a Memory Book in Shutterfly (Tutorial 2)

Creating a Memory Book in Shutterfly (Tutorial 3)

From Van Valkenburg to Vollick
V.1 The Loyalist Isaac Van Valkenburg aka Vollick
and his Vollick & Follick Children
Another solution I use is to create books for sale to other descendants. Since I tend to research all siblings in a family I can often provide details, facts and documents on a large number of family members for each generation. I use Amazon KDP for those books which then are made available on Amazon. 

See my list of books I have published here.  Money I make from these sales helps offset my expenses in subscribing to online companies for their databases.

I also donate a copy of any books I create to local archives or libraries where the family settled.  This helps ensure that even more descendants will have access to my research in the future.

How have you overcome the problem of your family not wanting your genealogy records?


Unknown said...

I have started with the family books, one done, many to go. I also started a blog about my children’s ancestors.

Unknown said...

I've uploaded mine to internet archive. The only people who are likely to find them are researchers. But that's the point.

Unknown said...

I have found that the younger generation wants the info digitally, by setting up a family website. I haven't done it yet, but am encouraged by their interest! I have also found if I make it into more of a story than just names and dates, when I can, there is more interest.
None of that solves the problem of who gets all my binders however!

Willeneg624 said...

Because of posts you had done on your blog and thanks to your Shutterfly tutorial, I was able to create a book about my mother. The narrative was her own words typed up years ago; pictures were added and the books were given at Christmas to her children and grandchildren. They were very well received and so the following year, I repeated the process creating a book about my father. The narrative from him had been done as a combination of audio cassettes and typed dictation. The gifts were especially meaningful because the subjects had passed on several years previous to the books. Thank you, Lorraine, for your inspiration. I hope to do more Shutterfly books.

Shasta Matova said...

I have been creating photo books like you did with Shutterfly. I've also made some scrapbooks with pockets to have a more interactive presentation. Doing one family at a time will make it easier get together, although the purpose of these books is more for imparting interesting information, and not a comprehensive history like a genealogy would be.

Unknown said...

These books and histories make wonderful wedding gifts.

Salli Rice said...

Like you, no one in my family is interested in my research and I've not found a library or archives that's interested - and part of that is probably because each generation has moved so my research doesn't pertain to any particular place. After you've made your books what will happen to all the information that you have gathered? Will it be destroyed? I'd be sad to see my information destroyed but oh my goodness has it ever been fun over the past 20 plus years!

sue said...

Like you, I have spent over 40 years in family research and have accumulated a lot of 'stuff.' And, like you, my kids don't want it. Rather than have it go to the dumpster, I have devised a plan...

Through the internet I have met relatives and thus asked them if they would like that particular family research data. And the reply has been positive. In my directions to my heirs, I have put these names and down and the family information that they are to receive.

For other family groups I have reached out to the historians of the place where they lived the longest to see if they would like the information. The answer was yes so another chunk of research will go to a repository that people might consult in years to come.

Goodbye dumpster, hello future researchers.


TheMercury13 said...

Poignant - Beautiful work you've done with the books; gorgeous, & so precious.
I've only been researching a few weeks (A far more depressing pastime than anticipated as all my ancestors were poor; hard lives in an industrial town, crowded among toxic factories they also worked in, early death or ending up in the Workhouse after a life-times slavery & over-breeding; makes my 21stC seem idyllic)- My family are also bizarrely uninterested, so I'm posting as many photos & documents as possible together online in various sites, then if should anyone else ever want to see, they will hopefully still be there long after I'm not :)

Virginia Allain said...

I've been making the Shutterfly books too and put my family blog posts in them. So far, I've created one for Vining Family Stories, one for my grandfather's WWI experience, and one about my mother's life in the 1940s.
No children to pass them along to so I need to send them off to the local history museum or somewhere.