Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Compile a Family History Album

My mother-in-law wanted me to compile the information she gathered on her family into an album to put in a museum in the community she lives. At first, I found this to be very difficult. I did not know how to put TONS of information into a book and make it look nice and contain the information a family history album should. I learned a lot through this process and the purpose of this post is to hopefully help someone who felt like I did.
"WHERE DO I BEGIN?" - That was the biggest road block for me. Once I started, it all seemed to fall into place.
 I did a lot of research on different styles and this is what I came up with....

I made a title page explaining the purpose of the book and sort of a disclaimer to calm family nerves if there happened to be any mistakes.  I made the background with an assortment of brightened pictures that are in the book.

Each person in the family had a two page spread. For the first page I picked my favorite picture of the individual, I typed the name with bold letters, I added the year of birth and death ( year of birth if person is still living), and a brief personal history. With the first person in this album (whom I will call the patriarch of the family in the time period of this album), I added the surname. The rest of the family members have the first name only.

The opposite page had some other pictures of interest and brief explanations of the pictures.
You need to decide what type of album you want.  To me, an album is more about the pictures than anything. Other paper information and pictures can be placed in an envelope with the album for people to look at if they so desire. For me, the more brief and to the point write ups are - the better. If you like more history then certainly put it in there.  

Here is a picture of a two page spread. This two page spread and the one below contain information of the mother and father of the family this album is about. 

I made a title page to start the next pages that contain information of the children in the family. I did not include names on this title page as the pages following have all that information.

The next pages follow the same layout. Where I put the name depended on the individual picture. It gave a nice variety. If I had the information, I made sure I had marriage dates and children names. 

A few pages with other information is good. The page below has a picture of the family homestead and a map of where it is located. 

I concluded the book in the same style I started with. 

I don't have any special programs on my computer (that I know how to use anyway). I have a Mac and I do most of my work on, believe it or not, the slideshow program called Keynote. I sent all the files to a printer. I printed a big copy for the museum and smaller copies for family members. 

I got a lot of the clip art and background paper free from the Creative Memories Project page. Check it out to see all the amazing digital files you can use. Click on "Freebies".

 When you start to make an album it may seem extremely daunting. There are usually more pictures and information than what you can fit on a page or two. Choose your favorite pictures and the most important information. Make it simple. 

 What I did to organize myself .... I put all the information for each person in separate page protectors in a binder. I started with the oldest member of the family to the youngest. This pouch contained the pictures and information. I arranged the pouches in the order I was going to put them in the book. This made it easier when I tackled each individual subject at a time. 

When I presented this album to my mother-in-law she cried. Family History albums are a treasure. They are close to our hearts because the information in them are really what we are made of. 
This was definitely a fulfilling project. 

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful album you made. I have been trying to figure out a creative way to make one, for my family, and you have totally given me the inspiration to get started! I am sure your family loved it; how nice.

    Thanks again for sharing,


    1. Thank you so much Jen! It's my pleasure to share this with you. I wish you all the best with your family history adventure!

  2. WoW. You did a fabulous job of a mountainous (is that a word?) task. I have been through Clinton more times than I can count. Always wanted to spend the day there, but my DH likes to be on the road until we get where we're going. Now I really want to visit.

    1. You are very sweet! Thank you for your kind remark! Oh wow, that is so neat that you have been through Clinton!! You should take a little break next time you are driving through :)

  3. Wow. That is really impressive Sue. What a great treasure for your family. I really like the design of the two spread pages (ex. Anna) The layout, the font, the torn edges - it all flows so well together. I am pinning this for future inspiration

  4. Sue, this is amazing considering you are not using any special program! I'm hoping to take a family album class this fall for ideas and to actually get one done. I'm good with individual pages but not so much with the albums. This is inspiring!!! We need to get together.....

  5. Great work Sue... I really like the layout! Thanks for posting!! Graham. :-)

  6. Thank you for posting about the family album. I have been researching for over a decade and it's time to create books or albums or something. I want to give them to family members. Like you said in your post, it seems daunting. I don't know where to start. Funny thing is, I also write a blog and I seem to be able to do that just fine. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. Sue, your album is a priceless gift for your family and for generations to come. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I have been trying to come up with some way of combining photos of my ancestors with the little bits of information that I have about them. I only hope I can produce something half as nice as yours.

    1. Thank you Janet. I find this layout is a perfect one to get the creative juices flowing and I am sure you will come up with something just as nice if not better. Happy creating!

  8. this is a beautiful memory of your family.
    Great job! thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this, I myself have been sifting and sighing at how to start my family history album and your insight has helped me greatly, I am now organized and ready to begin thanks to your personal experience...... thank you so much

  10. I am contemplating building a heritage scrapbook and have found your ideas very inspiring. Thanks a million!

  11. What a beautiful memories that you have!!!