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Self Publishing Your Family History, Part II

By Bob Larson
Last edition, I discussed the comparison of a genealogist to a family historian. This edition, I’m discussing the benefits of publishing your family history and highlight several people below, who have published family history books. Lissa Ann Forbes spoke at our last meeting about “What’s the Story Behind the Photograph?” Lissa is a family historian and has published several books on family history besides a how to book. I’ve listed her summary on page seven in the program highlights.

I just published my 210 page, fifteen chapter family history book covering ten family lines. I divided the book into four parts that included over 600 family pictures. This was a gigantic project that took over five years to complete. The last chapter was the most difficult as I started it last August and hoped to finish the book by October. As you can guess my best plans were delayed, but I shipped 65 soft and 35 hard cover books before Christmas. I worked with thirty cousins in completing their biographies and their ancestor’s biographies.
The benefits of publishing your family history are learning about your ancestors, reuniting with many cousins in obtaining their family histories, and the satisfaction of accomplishing a family history book. Even though I published 100 copies of my book for my relatives, you can publish any amount for your relatives. In retrospect, you can print the books or reports yourself, if you have a good laser or inkjet printer. It depends on what your goals are in publishing your family history book.

Creating a family history book is easier than you think! Our society has given members many resources to do this. You’ve seen great examples from our members, who have written about their family histories as noted on page six in every newsletter edition since 2005. From researching the census, city directories, military records, passenger and citizenship documents, newspaper articles and obituaries to interviewing your relatives, authors can easily obtain a family history that will be interesting and entertaining to any reader. It’s not only easy, but fun and satisfying to do!

Several other members, who have edited or published books, spoke at the Family Tree Maker’s Users Group meeting in November. I asked Jean Messinger, a national author and speaker of several family history books and church history books to speak at our meeting about self publishing your family history. She presented her “Cheers and Tears” program at the 2004 GenFest seminar and at our FTM Users Group meetings for the past four years. Jean published a recent family history book about a Jewish woman, who escaped the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. It is a riveting book that will keep you spellbound. She also has published her “Faith” book and speaks to societies about the same book on the great architecture of Colorado churches. She gives a colorful and stunning presentation on the different and magnificent churches in Colorado.

Member Dora Hildebrand was the editor of last year’s popular 270 page “Pioneer Journey” book. She managed the project in less than one year with the help of Wayne Sundburg (Pioneer Assn. member) and Ken Goldsberry (LCGS President & Pioneer Assn. Centennial Chair). She explained the issues in creating a family history project and working with over 240 association members in obtaining their biographies, and the issues working with the commercial printers. Overall, she did a grand job and also meeting deadlines. The Pioneer Association is now publishing a hard cover version in leather with basically the same cover picture for its members, who wanted a hard bound copy. Dora also wrote about her ancestors in our January 2006 newsletter.

Boyd Johnson spoke about organizing your family history project. He discussed using a filing system to organize the different family lines and by given names in researching his family lines. He uses a file system by documents and by pictures for each surname. He and wife Gwen lectured at our past FTM Users group about their family histories. He’s also written about his ancestors in our July 2005 newsletter.
I encourage all members to publish their family history, no matter how many family lines you consider using. A smaller project will likely succeed sooner, whereas a larger project may have many delays. The bottom line is getting to know your long lost cousins, learning about your ancestors, and letting your future generations know about their ancestors. It doesn’t get much better than that, so please start writing your family history today! I may also call on you to write your ancestor story for our newsletter in the near future.

Jean Messinger Dora Hildebrand

From the Larimer County Genealogical Society Newsletter, Volume 28 Number 1

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