Looking for inspiration about what to include in your family history book? Investing time researching will maximise the amount of data you have available for inclusion. After drawing together historic photos and other source materials, let your creativity run free when deciding how to present information about your ancestors. Here’s our top suggestions about what to put into your book.
Write everything down
Hopefully your research will enable you to collect plenty of pictures to include in your family history book. Remember to note down as many details as you can about photos. That includes where the images are from, who is depicted and what is happening. Correctly spelt image captions will prove informative to anybody flicking through the pages of your finished book.
As the famous saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. But don’t forget that words are powerful in their own right when used correctly. Extracts from letters, postcards and personal notes can help the readers of your book get closer to your ancestors. Their words reflect thoughts from long ago and illustrate how people saw the world. The passage of time changes perspectives. Even seemingly mundane items such as shopping lists might prove interesting after many years. What people ate in bygone times may be very different to today.
Make family recipes accessible
Some of the dishes enjoyed by people long ago may still prove popular. Imagine unveiling your family history book over a dinner whose menu showcases delicacies that your ancestors also savoured. The tastes and aromas of family recipes might unlock childhood memories. That connection with the past may get people talking, revealing yet more about your ancestors.
Why not list the ingredients and methods for making old favourites such as grandma’s stew or an aunt’s winter soup? Perhaps there’s something more unusual worth keeping? That could be the menu from a family celebration long ago or a dish served at a memorable moment in an individual’s life. You could always include your own favourite dishes so that future generations can continue to enjoy their taste.
Share family-specific maps
Where you live today may be far away from the places inhabited by your ancestors. Why not depict where they are from on a map? Don’t forget that place names may have changed over time or be different in other languages. Why not include more than one name if your ancestors knew a place as something else?
Pin key locations on maps. Do you really need to show the whole world or will a continent or two suffice? Maybe it would be better to select just a couple of countries, regions or counties? It might be fun to include maps of towns and depict places associated with important events in ancestors’ lives. Why not impress readers by showing photos of places such as former homes, historic moments or relatives by well-known landmarks.
Include pictures created during photo challenges
Photo challenges are intended as fun. They are a modern way to connect the past and present. Including images created during photo challenges can add an interesting dimension to your family history book. Many old photos have been recreated after challenges shared on social media went viral. Why not show images from bygone time and today side by side?
Do you have lookalikes in the family? How about encouraging living relatives to dress in costumes to show how similar people look from across the generations? Get creative. Desaturate colour photos to turn them black and white. Add a sepia tone to add faux ageing. Use filters to introduce effects. Including lots of people photos is likely to engage interest in your family history book.
Celebrate notable achievements by family members
Don’t forget to set aside at least a page or two to celebrate notable achievements by members of your family. They don’t need to be Olympic champions, Nobel laureates or world record holders to warrant a special mention. Perhaps a great-grandfather went into battle? Did your great-grandmother raise a lot of children?
Was there someone involved in sport, education or music? Did they influence the lives of others? If there’s a special story associated with bravery, sacrifice or outstanding achievement tell it and show photos. Ensure that moments of family pride live on for future generations.
Don’t forget the family tree
For many people creating a family tree is a time-consuming project. That effort warrants showing off the ancestry in a visually appealing way. Online tools offer an alternative to drawing out the lineage by hand. Why not dedicate a page or even a double page spread to depicting your ancestry?
Hopefully we have inspired you with ideas to include in your family history book. Do you still need more information? See our post with tips for creating the perfect family history book.