Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Exemplar: A Family History and Genealogy Book

If you're thinking of putting all your research, or just all your research for one particular surname, into a big, comprehensive genealogy/family history book, you've probably spent some time considering how to lay out your book. There are plenty of ways to do it, and you can refine your own ideas by studying the approaches others have taken. If you visit the Blurb Bookstore and type in the search term genealogy, you'll find lots of examples to look at. Browse several. See what you like and what you don't like.

In From New York to Indiana, author James P. Barber chose to include charts in a separate section, after a textual family history. If your readers are not consumed by genealogy (like us!), the odds are pretty good that they won't be inclined to sit around reading charts. An interesting text will have more appeal to that audience, as will pictures.

  • If you're creating a book for family members who are, for the most part, not genealogically inclined, you might want to keep charts in a separate section toward the back of the book, where the hard-core genealogist among your readers will find them more easily anyway.
  • If you're using Blurb as your POD publisher, you may find yourself with extra pages available due to Blurb's pricing structure. Consider using them to add some blank family group sheets at the end of your book, as Barber has done here, so generations can be added as the book is handed down.
Reader, what ideas do you get from this book?


Bob Kramp said...

I like the idea of having two columns per page especially if there is a lot of text. I noticed a section on pg 5, in which the author wrote about clothing the family in pioneer times. He also mentioned a web site as a source. I wonder if the section was a quote, excerpt, abstract, or paraphrase. Didn't see any quotation markes. A few pictures here would have been nice. I like the two-picture family group on page 105, one with captions; one, without. Saved some text here. Technical issue: My computer program (Ancestral Quest) already makes a nice Modified Register which can be saved as 8.5 x 11 inch pdf page. However, Blurb books only offer 8 x 10 inch pages. I believe there is a way to squeeze down the larger page to fit in the smaller. But I have no clue how.

T.K. said...

Sorry for the delay in posting your comment, Bob. My inbox runneth over.

I was wondering myself about whether there's a way to use a PDF file in a Blurb book the same way you would use a JPG file. I couldn't find anything like that in their Help. I suppose you could print it out and scan it to make a JPG image out of it, although I'm not sure the print would look as crisp and clear as other text in the book. I'd love to know if you find out a better way to do it!

James said...

I am so pleased to find your review of two of my family books! Thanks for the kind words. To address the issue of PDFs, Blurb does allow you to create books from PDF files. There are, however, some gotchas to all of it. I did have to get around the PDF issue as the Legacy (software) charts in my book were created as PDF files. What I did was take them into Adobe Photoshop where I converted each page into a JPG file. A little time-consuming, but it did the job. As I said, however, there is a method to create your entire book as a PDF and upload it to Blurb. Check the Blurb blog as there is a lot of good info. By the way, and I am not associated with Blurb, they are a very good compromise between cost and quality.

Jim Barber

James said...

I previously posted regarding the PDF issue. I also wanted to comment on the quote issue raised by the original poster. All actual quoted material is enclosed in quotes when referenced. Paraphrased material is referenced without quotes.

Jim Barber

T.K. said...

Hi Jim,
Many thanks for your comments, and for sharing your books at Blurb. You've done such a great job on them, and I really appreciate seeing excellent examples that help me find ways to make my own work better. Best wishes!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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