Creating a Family History

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and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon his name. (Malachi 3:16)

Why a written book[edit | edit source]

After you have gathered all the material you want to put into your personal history, how do you present it to family or to the world? Do you put it on a DVD or in printed form? The answer is YES -- do both.

The reason for a creating a history of your family or a Book Of Remembrance is that it has in it those things which was written to tell your descendants about yourself. Obviously, you can entitle your personal history anything you want.

A book has those things in it that do not work well on a DVD such as an old letters or documents that should be read. No one is going to read a birth certificate on a TV screen.

The DVD, on the other hand, has the video, sounds and narration along with other things that can’t be put into a book. Click here to see how to put together a personal history in visual form.

Now to put your personal history into book form, here’s how you might organize it:

  • Title Page The title page consist of the title and any subtitles. The title should state just exactly what the content of your personal history is in as few words as possible.
  • Edition number if there is more than one.
  • Names the authors.
  • Place and date of publication.
  • Copyright Statement -- Copyright statement usually appears on the back of the title page. It generally includes when the personal history was published and who should be contact for information. Here is a sample copyright statement: (C) 2004 by John Doe. All rights reserved.
  • Dedication

Usually on next page after the copyright statement. Here you tell to whom the history is dedicated and perhaps why.

  • Table of Contents
    Lists the chapters and/or sections with starting page numbers.
  • Forward
    The forward contains the reasons why this history was created in the first place. You can give an overview of the yourself or if of another person or family that is the subject of this history.

You can tell the reader the methods use to create it and perhaps an address of the author if the reader should want to contact the author.

  • Introduction -- You may want to write background information if it is necessary to understand the subject matter.
  • List of Contributors -- Make a list of all those who may have help write this history.
  • Chronology -- A chronology gives in a capsulated form the key events in the person’s life. It can be a time line which will help a person get an overview of events and a quick reference to important events. This is very helpful if you created a non-chronological history.
  • List of Illustrations -- You may want to have a complete list of photographs and documents for easy searching.
  • Main Sections -- You obviously don’t have to use my order. This is just an example of how you can organize it.
  • Written Histories -- This where you place all your printed histories of not only yourself but of parents, grand parents, etc. These might be the transcripts of the personal history recording you made of yourself or other family members.
  • Immediate Family Photographs -- Here you have to be somewhat discriminating. You probably have literally hundreds of family pictures taken over the years, so you have to pick the ones that will be a representation of you over the years.
    This will also included representations of your children and other family members you might want to included. You might included selections from vacations or important trips of the family over the years. And don’t forget the family pets either.
  • Ancestor Photographs -- A presentation of parents, grand parents, etc are displayed here if you have a lot of pictures of them. In addition, pictures of various ancestors that may be in your possession.

If you don’t have any but know other family members who do, try and get copies of them to put in your Book of Remembrance.

  • Documents
    Here you can put marriage certificates, birth certificates and announcements, graduations, awards, news paper clipping of family members, religious certificates such as blessings, baptisms, etc.
  • Pedigree Charts
    Pedigree charts showing your parents, grand parents, great grand parents and on back as far as you can. Look in the appendix for a sample of a pedigree chart. If nothing else, write down what you do know.
  • Family Group Charts
    Charts showing the parents and children of each couple on your pedigree chart. Whoever is reading your personal history can see how many children your great grand parents had for example.

They can see how longed they lived or if they died in their youth. Many of these charts have places to put the pictures of each person on the family group chart. See appendix for example.

  • Appendices
    You may want to list other sources which give information on the time period covered, other histories that mentioned you or your ancestor, or any thing which will give a person more information about a topic you have covered.
  • Bibliography
    List of materials that were the sources for your history came from.
  • Index
    An index should contain all the people mentioned in the history so another person can look up all that was said about that person without having to read the entire history. Should include not only names, but places and subjects.
    Not a Scrap Book
    A personal history is not a scrap book. I would not put in ribbons I won at the county fair or my certificate from life guard school. This is a personal history and I think it deserves to be a bit more formal.

So put that stuff in a scrapbook. And incidently, scrapbooks are a part of family history too. There are many how-to-do-it books and magazines on scrap booking. Check them out.

  • Start One For Each Of The Kids
    Start by putting in all the things you did in yours but keep the pictures of you to a bear minimum. Here you will concentrate on them.

You’ll want to included things like their school pictures, birth certificates, etc. To make the personal history, use the questions that are appropriate for their ages and either help them write it or if they are to young write it yourself.

  • Doesn’t Have To Be Thick
    We’re not trying to make a great thick book that sits on the coffee table to impress visitors. It is a presentation of yourself and your family. It is a tool to bring to remembrance the events in our lives that were of the greatest significance and which will help keep our family united.

It is for the express purpose to give us a symbol of our identity and that we belong to each other. That’s what a Book of Remembrance is for.