How to Create a Family History Journal – Part 1: Introduction

The woman standing up is my grandmother with her sister – 1912

Welcome to Part 1 – The Introduction of the 7-part series on How to Create a Family History Journal for Publication.

Have you ever thought about or wanted to create a journal or book about your family containing stories, pictures, and information about your current family and your ancestors; something permanent you can share with your family now and pass along to future generations? A journal about your family member that can continue to be added onto as time goes on?

If so, be sure to read this 6-part article with instructions about what to do to create and document your family history as well as ideas of what to include. Creating your family history may be a little time consuming at first but the rewards are well worth it. You can start with some of the items you probably already have in your possession. Maybe you have already begun making notes about events and meaningful experiences.

It’s not as difficult or costly as you might think. Part 6 of this article contains information regarding copying, printing, publication options, and approximate cost.

Your book would not only serve as a valuable piece of family history for you and your family to enjoy, it would be something you will have fun creating. Your book would be something you will enjoy going back through from time to time to bring back memorable events you can relive in your mind over and over again.

Creating a book about your family and ancestors is an important way of converting and preserving memories forever with the printed word, pictures, video clips, and recorded narrations. You could use the book to create a PowerPoint presentation, home movie or an e-book.

History of how I came to write this series: I transcribed and put together a family history book for one of my customers. It contained 500 pages and 350 photographs and images of important documents. The final printed copy was one inch thick.

This woman had her book printed on 8 ½” x 11” paper in color with coil binding so pages could be inserted later as new family members were born, people passed away or there were some significant events that she wanted to add to her publication.

She had 20 copies printed and give them to all of her family members and close friends she included in her book. This book took almost a year to put together including all of her research and is something she and her family, present and future, will treasure for generations to come especially if they keep adding to it.

The information contained in this 7-part series came from what I learned as I put her book together.

If you save your book as a Word document, an E-book, PowerPoint presentation or home movie on a CD or DVD (more about this in Parts 5 and 6 of this article) to give copies to family members, hopefully one or more of your relatives will continue to add material making it a perpetual living family album. What a wonderful legacy this would be to your family. You might even want to consider adding a section of the book to include pictures and information about close friends and significant people in your life.

If you have an interest in researching your family ancestry, there are excellent sites you can subscribe to:,, and There are many other sites as well.

There are inexpensive computer programs you can purchase to make keeping track of your information easy. Using one of these programs, you can upload the files created to the internet where other family members you didn’t know existed may find and contact you. Two second cousins of mine and two sixth cousins found and contacted me through I connected with two first cousins I had lost track of fifty years ago. We now keep in touch through Facebook and have traded family history information. One of my sixth cousins had come into possession of my great-grandfather’s Bible from 1850 with letters from him as well as locks of hair from various relatives. She sent this precious Bible to me.

In addition to learning about your own ancestry, you’ll learn a lot of very interesting historical facts you never learned about in school. For example I found out my GGGGGrandfather came to America in 1790 with his father from Ireland and fought in the American Revolution. I wrote to the government archives and obtained a copy of a handwritten account of his service, how he fought for two years escorting settlers to safety from of the area around Pittsburg, PA to the Philadelphia area during the Indian uprisings just before the revolution. He then reenlisted for another two years and guarded the British prisoners after the fall of Yorktown. I found that three GGrandfathers fought in the Civil War, two on the side of the Union and one in the Army of the Confederacy.

Historical facts and information about your own family can be shared with all family members, especially those who are still in school. Just think how proud your son, daughter, niece, or nephew would be to tell the class that his or her GGGGrandfather fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War or that one of your ancestors played a significant part in history in some way either in America or another country. It makes history more real, personal, interesting, and fun to study. The possibilities of what you can learn are endless. Once you get started, it’s like a treasure hunt. This applies to everyone no matter when your ancestors came to America or where they’re from.

If you don’t have the desire to research and include your ancestry, a book that is just about you, your parents, grandparents, your children (your immediate family). would still be something of value to you and your family now as well as future generations.

If you think about writing a book about your family and ancestry in these terms you’ll have fun doing it and when it’s done, you’ll have something you’ll be proud of that you and your family will enjoy for years to come… a lasting legacy about real people… your family.

I’ve created a 7- part article containing steps to help you:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Steps and procedures for gathering information to get started.

Part 3 – A suggested list of pictures and documents to gather first.

Part 4 – How to organize and catalog all the information you’ve gathered in preparation for writing the stories and articles.

Part 5 – Information and a list of things and ideas regarding what to write about… what to include in each article.

Part 6 – Putting it all together ready for copying, printing or publication.

Part 7 – Information about the various ways you can save your book as well as copying, printing and publication options, what you need to do to get your book printed and/or published (if you decide to do this) and approximate cost of each option.

I have also included information about obtaining an ISBN number and Copyrighting for those who may have a novel or other books they would like formatted for publication.

There is information about how to test your text for readability, citations etc. should you so desire. There are instructions on how to create a Q.R. (Quick Response) Code containing valuable information about your book that can be scanned by cell phones and stored for future reference.

There is information regarding dealing with printers and on-demand self-publishers. This part also goes into creating a PowerPoint presentation, an Ebook or a home movie containing the contents your book.

If you’re interested in creating a book about you and your family, all 7-parts of this article are listed in this site. Next is Part 2, Getting Started

IFood for thought: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (C. S. Lewis)


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Author: GSKWAuthor

Semi-retired. Worked most of my adult life as a secretary, executive assistant & in middle management. In 1998 I formed a secretarial service business at home specializing in the transcription of manuscripts, formatting for print, and eBook publication then uploading to POD publishers. Through ads and a website (no longer active) the business attracted customers from all over the U.S. In 2016, I phased out my business. I now spend the remainder of my "spare time" writing cozy mystery/suspense/thrillers. I hope to publish my first novel titled "Susan's Stalkers - Double The Fear" before the end of 2023. The synopsis is in this site. Check it out.