When I was new to genealogy I remember reading somewhere that a compiled book suitable for giving to the family could not be assembled in a day or two. Good advice! Unless your tree is tiny and in good shape, and you don’t want to add much more, you will need some time to choose wisely, clarify your stories, make it flow, and make it look good. This book is a Christmas gift, and I’m starting it especially early so that I can have it ready in time for any good sales that come up on the printing sites. I usually use Lulu.com.
The book is about mom’s mother’s family, the Darlings. I have been researching mom’s family for several years (Dad’s family of Scottish Highlanders is graduate-level work that I will pursue when I’m a little more experienced). They are divided into Darlings (her mom’s side) and Baldwins (her Dad’s side). For the last six months I have been working almost exclusively on the Baldwins, after a major breakthrough. So getting back to the Darlings was a bit of an adjustment.
My needs for this project are:
- Put my most recent tree in print form for posterity (until I make the next one) for my mom and for her cousin
- Record some of the blog posts that relate to this line
- Create photo pages with old family photos
My wants are:
- Make a full-color book so that the back photo/story section will be in color (can you say too expensive??)
- Have some interesting stories appear from the “notes” field on Ancestry. Those are not public on Ancestry but they do print in a report.
- Compile stories, documents, vital records and items in the book which were not well suited to blog posts, but interesting to the family. For instance, my great-great grandfather testified in a murder trial. Well now that I think about it, maybe that is interesting enough for a blog post!
I keep my tree in Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com. It’s all about synchronizing – those two things will synch up with each other every time I open Family Tree Maker. I use Ancestry on my iPhone quite a bit, and I really like that I can note something there which is recorded in Ancestry, and it automatically synchs to Family Tree Maker next time I open it up. The footnotes need some work, for sure, but that’s the biggest drawback. I like the way, if I attach a census record in Ancestry, it is automatically downloaded and saved on my hard drive by using Family Tree Maker. I think there is better software out there, but none that presents itself live and up to date on the internet the way this pairing does. And since I also have an auto-backup of my computer files, I feel confident that my tree is saved in numerous ways.
For the stories/photos/documents section of the book, I pondered what software would help me compile some pictures and some blog entries. My trouble with Word, in the past, has been that I like to run the text and images close to each other, like this:
But I find when I set the wrapping for a picture to “tight,” the pictures can, later, jump around the pages in unexpected ways. This can get really frustrating. Particularly at 11:30 p.m. I think I found a way to alleviate this problem by setting the wrapping “through text” and then locking the picture into a certain position on the page. This seems to work well although it’s not as elegant as all that wrapped text.
My plan was to use Adobe Acrobat to compile the pdf book from Family Tree Maker followed by a pdf version of the Word document containing stories/posts/documents/photos. Once assembled, I’ll have to make a cover on the book printing website.
Moving the Blog Pages
I’ve noticed a lot of offers out there to “print your blog” and “produce a book from your blog entries.” However I really had no desire to print my blog entry-for-entry. I wanted to only use some of the posts, and parts of others. I couldn’t find an easy way to do that in any kind of automated fashion. So if I was on my own, I wondered how Word would work if I just copied and pasted a complete post, pictures and all, into the middle of my stories/photo section.
I was surprised to find that Word worked incredibly well. After cutting and pasting, the posts looked very much like they did on the blog. I left off the header and side columns, of course, off. I found a new type style to use for the post titles, but that was about it. Occasionally I re-centered a picture. They look like this in the book:
Making the Reports
I decided to include 5 Family Tree Maker reports in the book:
- A Pedigree Chart for the person whose ancestry is the subject of the book, Edna May Darling, my mother’s mother. I feel that people may be able to follow the chart more easily than the report.
- An Ahnentafel for Edna’s father, Russell Earl Darling. I realized, going through this, that I am way too dependent on “Residence,” “Occupation” and “Burial.” I should be using a wider variety of fields. I made a list of desirable fields to use and taped them to my computer. But that will be for future use.
- An Ahnentafel for Edna’s mother, Eva Louise Murdock. I knew my great grandmother. She was a lovely person, and everyone who knew her could only remember her fondly. In fact, knowing her somehow informs my understanding of my entire family tree. So how embarrassing is it that her Ahnentafel is seven pages long? Nice going! Her father was adopted, but I have no idea how random that was or wasn’t. Her mother appeared in the U.S. around 1881 as a twenty-year-old from Pictou, Nova Scotia. Presumably, she was alone, although we all know it’s usually more complicated than that. I have not reliably traced her parents. I’m not sure where I even got seven pages.
- A Place Usage Report. Family Tree Maker does not offer an index, exactly, of places, but it does have a Place Usage Report. So I created one for the direct ancestors only, in this section of the tree. This was only 34 pages. When you build a Place Usage Report into your book, be sure to specify, the ancestors of a specific person, otherwise it will give you places for the entire tree.
- The last section of the Family Tree Maker portion of the book is the Name Index. This was 10 pages. The only way Family Tree Maker will produce an index for your Ahnentafel is to put the Ahnentafel into a “Genealogy Book”, then go to “Other” and you will see the option to add an index as a section of the book. It only indexes the people in your Ahnentafel.
The Documents Section
I wanted to add the photos/blog posts/documents/records in a section at the end. Obviously, I had to be very selective. I needed to group the items somehow and limit this section to ideas or family members that I thought would be somewhat recognizable, and more about the history of my family than the pangs and uncertainties of research.
I decided to group them by family name, arranging each item for that family name from latest to earliest. This is not typical, I suppose, but I thought it might be more comprehensible to someone who is not used to all these names. I think most people can understand “the Darlings”, “the Aldriches”, “the Murdocks” and so on. I started the page numbers where the Family Tree maker sections left off.
Here are some sample pages:
The Darling section will also contain some early census records and some stories about the earliest generations.
There are about 40 pages drafted for the last portion of the book and I expect this section to be about 150 pages. While I have chosen and organized many of the items, it will still take a couple more weeks to finish those pages.
The post you are reading is located at: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2015/10/12/putting-a-book-together-about-the-darlings/
The post that follows this, about printing the book, is here, “Producing a Self-Published Book in Ten Steps”.