Creative Ideas and Tips
to Help You Start Your Family History
Below are a few ideas that are helpful to motivate your writers and book audience!
- Make a family “assignment” to send in 7-8 short “memories” of their youth or a of their relationship with a certain person. Make them short, but exact and detailed.
- Label your pictures with a CHAPTER-PHOTO number, i.e.: 1-1 (chapter 1, photo 1) or 3-5 (chapter 3, photo 5). Then build your list of photo captions using these numbers as reference, each caption on its own line.
- When asking a relative to contribute to the book, give them a succinct assignment. For example, have Grandpa write about his courtship and early marriage to Grandma. It’s always easier to give a subsequent assignment after the first is completed.
- Always ask for photos and captions! Having a photo without knowing who is shown is almost as bad as not having a photo!
- My Life Story makes it easy to get that special loved one to record their life’s experiences. It’s a great gift idea!
- When preselling your book to your family, give a final date that orders will be accepted for the quoted price. After that date (or a second printing), the price will be much higher.
- Remember that your family often does not know how much time and effort you have invested to make this book a reality! Don’t skimp on the binding and printing... it discounts all your work!
- When interviewing, ask open-ended questions that invite long answers. Avoid asking many “YES/NO” questions.
- Include personal items that help your family remembers their ancestors: recipes, anecdotes, jokes, family or ethnic traditions.
- Support documentation such as birth and death certificates, wills, marriage licenses, property deeds, immigration forms, school records, maps, etc., are wonderful to include and help the story come to life.
Guenther Rall: A Memoir is a 423-page, 6"x9" book with hardcover with dust jacket binding published in 2002.
The Life of One Nisei is a 145-page, 6"x9" book with library edition hardback binding published in 2014.