Unsure of the best place to start making a family history book? Creating your own book is not as intimidating as it first sounds. In fact, it’s a straightforward process when you know where to start. That’s why we’re outlining the most important points below. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to enjoy a rewarding time researching and documenting your family history.

Family history books as great projects

Our lives are busy. We live in an ever-changing world. Nearly all our memories are now stored digitally. What would happen if we were unable to access photos on our phone or camera? How can we guarantee digital files will be accessible by future generations? A book is a technology-proof means of transferring images and written knowledge to future generations.

Researching a family history book is also a great reason to reconnect with relatives you haven’t seen in a long while. It can be a fun excuse to meet up with those you enjoy spending time with. Sourcing photos for inclusion in your book may mean leafing through old albums together. You may also have to look through pictures stored in drawers or boxes that have not been accessed in years.

Whether your relatives are physically present or simply depicted on paper, researching a family history can create multigenerational connections. Creating the book can be a way of giving something back to your family and helping educate members yet to come.

How to structure your family history project

Creating a family history book is a fun, creative project. Effective planning helps lay the foundations of the project’s success. Grab a pen and paper or open your laptop to jot down notes. Use them to create an informal project plan. Think about who you should contact to acquire information, photographs and documents for inclusion in your book.

Which official sources do you need to access to get data? Historic censuses, electoral registers and poll books may prove useful. Records of births, deaths and marriages are likely to prove invaluable in verifying key dates. Be generous but realistic in planning time for research. You may not be able to dedicate every weekend to this project, despite your enthusiasm. Identify research that you can do online at any time. Do you need to plan trips to visit archives or other sources holding historic documents?

Plan a little contingency for setbacks and unexpected developments. You may need to revisit the archives or find leads that take you in unforeseen directions. History really can be exciting. What about a budget for undertaking research? Do you need to subscribe to any of the family history websites? Will research mean travel, postage, photocopying or other costs?

After gathering information, deciding on the format of your family history book should prove the easy part of the project. Get creative while uploading documents, adding text and tweaking layouts via the bonusprint app or editors. You’ll find a range of beautiful bonusprint photo book layouts to choose from and everything you need to produce your family history book.

Be realistic and enjoy the research

Assess the scope of your family history project and create a realistic timeline for your research. Don’t be too ambitious to avoid transforming the research into a chore. Talk to relatives while conducting initial research. Make a judgement call regarding likely bottlenecks or probable gaps in your research. Consider practical ways to overcome these.

Struggling to go back too far into the past or find details about certain branches of the family? Look for positives and compensate by including more detail about people you do have information on. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Add colour by including a poem about your family. What about adding quotes from famous people who lived at the same time as your ancestors?

Alternatively, you might find a more pictorial approach to be the best way forward. How about turning the story of researching your family history into a photo book of its own? You may inspire future generations to follow in your footsteps and continue the research. Create a plan that breaks the tasks ahead into manageable units. You don’t want to become overwhelmed. Try to vary the tasks too. That will help you maintain interest. If your research remains enjoyable, it’s likely that you’ll complete your family history book successfully.

Think about the questions we’ve raised here. Are you ready to begin researching your family history? See our post on how to find information for your family history book.

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