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How to Create a Record of Your Family History

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/19/2007 | Genealogy

As you research the your ancestral lines, it is only natural that you would want to compile all the information you are gathering into some sort of coherent form that can be used later on by yourself and other relatives. Here are a few suggestions to help you organize your family history into a record that will be beneficial for you and for the generations to come.

As with any story, a good place to begin is with the beginning. As a preface to your family history, you may want to create a pedigree chart. On the chart, you will be able to list all the family members related to your direct line, both paternal and maternal. This use of a pedigree chart as the foundation for your family history will also act as a way of helping you organize the generations in your family history.  This resource, located at the front of the family history, will be easy for any reader to refer to when perusing the events that were a part of the lives of any generation in your family line.

When it comes to organizing the chapters of your family history, you may want to begin with one that provides some basic information that reaches back even further than your actual pedigree chart. As an example, you may have not yet traced your family line all the way back to the twelfth century, although you do know that your family name has it's origins in that time frame. Include any details you may know about the creation of the family name, as well as details about any migrations that will lead you up to the first generation where you have names and specific details. From there, you can launch into chapters that provide detail about each of the generations, working your way to the present. 

This format has two advantages to it. First, it will be very easy to each subsequent generation to simply add another chapter that chronicles the contemporary history of the family. Second, the first chapter will be flexible enough to allow easy addition of any other stray details that may be uncovered by you or another family member in the future. In the event that you are able to uncover enough detail to add another generation to your pedigree chart, the insertion of a new chapter after your introductory chapter will also be quite easy to accomplish, without having to rework the entire family history.

If at all possible, it is a good idea to include a list of your resources in the body of your family history.  This can be accomplished by including footnotes in the body of the text, or by creating a section that lists the various sources cited within the chapters. If you are really industrious, you may want to create and include an index. While an index would be a great deal of extra work, it would certainly be helpful for future readers. 

Another trick to remember is that you can lay out your pages electronically, and save them as a compete document. This makes it easy for you to go back and add new information as it becomes available. With today's desktop publishing tools, you can also create a very attractive family history that can be given to anyone who would like to have a copy. As an added incentive, you can also use the electronic copy to download to a publish-on-demand company, and have as many copies of your family history professionally bound and printed as you like.

Creating a family history is a lot of work, but ultimately a task that can help you be proud of what your family has accomplished over the years. Why not begin to create your family history today?