Thursday, December 13, 2007


From RootsWeb Review-- great story, and great idea for a Christmas / birthday gift for genealogists OR mundanes on your shopping list:

Family History Book by Sherryl Snow

I had a fun genealogy experience this week that I wanted to let you all know about.

Several months ago I was able to take a trip to visit my aging grandmother in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before going I decided I would bring my scanner and scan any old photos from her albums that struck my fancy--if there were any.

Were there ever! I had no idea the treasure I was in for. I guess I just sort of assumed I'd seen all her photos, but there were pages of pictures I'd never seen--some of her as a baby, a toddler, a teenager, and a young mother.

I had only ever seen one photograph of her mother--somewhere back someone told me it was the only one still in existence. But there were multiple photos of her in my grandmother's album. What a wonderful surprise to see my great-grandmother as a young woman for the first time. Also, to see a new picture of my great-great-grandmother.

After scanning the photos I wanted to share them with my siblings. They are not really into family history but I knew even they could get excited about pictures--who can't? Instead of just sending them a CD of photos, however, I decided to put the pictures in a book. There are a number of book-making websites out there that make it easy to drag and drop your photos and create professionally bound and printed books for relatively cheap (mine was about $30.00 for a book of 35 pages, minus the shipping costs).

I won't mention the specific product I used, but here are a few sites you can look into:,,, and You can also use your iPhoto application to make a book if you're a Mac user and I'm sure there are more programs out there for both Macs and PCs.

Making the book took several weeks. I added photos and then pasted snippets of text from a brief autobiography my grandmother wrote some years ago. I supplemented it with short bits of text from an oral history interview I also conducted with her on my last trip.

I knew that not many people in my family were likely to read the oral history or even the autobiography and would only glace quickly at a CD of pictures--unless I was sitting by them and talking them through it.

But this way, I think they will all get a better appreciation for my grandmother and her life--at thirty-five pages the book is not too overwhelming and contains my favorite photos. I also tried to keep the text portions brief enough that they would be engaging and easily digestible.

I plan on giving these books to my family for Christmas, and I can't wait to see their reactions. I almost cried when I got them in the mail and saw how professional they looked, thanks to the service I used.

I recommend looking into making a short photo book like this for your family. It's a great way to get even the most disinterested family members to enjoy a little family history.

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 12 December 2007, Vol. 10, No. 50.

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