Creating Your Own Family Yearbook

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By Amanda Forson,

Instead of falling prey to bogus companies offering pre-made family yearbooks or histories that often include little or no real genealogical information, create your own in fifteen minutes a day.

Day One:
Determine who the book’s audience is. Ask who may be interested in receiving the yearbook. Content may be different if going to Great Aunt Martha versus going to co-ed, Amber. Start putting together a brief outline of what the book should contain, so you know what to ask for when you start gathering materials.

Day Two: If you want to write only one book for distribution to multiple parties, determine who is directly related to those people. Everyone is more interested in families that are directly related to them versus extraneous people they have never met, and will not meet. This may expand your audience, or help in knowing whether or not Susie’s birth date should be included. Do not include information requested to not be included, but, unless specifically requested, include whatever else is left. In family documents, relatives are often more offended by information that was left out once they see the finished product.

Day Three: If you want to write a yearbook that gets updated each year, consider going digital. A good digital option is a blog-style family webpage. When setting up such a blog, allow for multiple members to contribute and for picture and video uploads. Many families are currently now using family blogs, not realizing that they are creating digital yearbooks.

Day Four: If creating a paper yearbook, request pictures and information from the different family lines that are included in the book. So that those included understand how they are related to each other (you never know when a step-relative or an in-law may be looking over the book), include family group sheets and enough pedigree charts to help the generations make sense of each other.

Day Five: After gathering photographs and updates of email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, and general family information for the year, compile information according to your outline. This may include a brief family history introduction for the yearbook recipients. Examples of what to include could be how the family got to the country most of the family lives, where the family has lived in the past, occupations, religions, mannerisms, cultural traditions, etc. As years go by, include major milestones for family members or summaries of information from past years for help with context.

Day Six: Determine who wants a hard copy and ask them to contribute to the printing and shipping cost in exchange for a copy. If members prefer digital copies, set up a webpage or blog with a password so family members are able to view, but that is not accessible to anyone else, depending upon the information that is on the blog. Mother’s maiden names and birth years are especially important to safeguard.

Day Seven: Continue to update the information as needed. This activity could also turn into a family directory as well as yearbook, and allow for pertinent family information to be gathered into one place versus scattered among distant relatives who do not know each other well.

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