How to make a family history book

Considering all the technology we have today, isn’t it crazy that someone would want to create a physical family history book?

It’s not crazy.

There’s still something special about holding the information in your hands, and creating a bound book is a great way to do it.

The Focus & Format of your Family History Physical Book

You can focus your book on a particular individual, family, or line. One fun idea is if your book is about someone that has many living relatives, collect stories from the relatives about the person and include them in your book.

There are lots of ways to put your family history and family tree information into a book. Here are a couple examples of what I’ve seen.

Three-Ringed Binder

This option can be one of the least expensive, but it will also take a lot of time if you’re planning to make a lot of copies for family members. Simply buy the number of binders you need and make printouts or copies of the material you’ve organized for each book.

Spiral-Bound Book

As far as being economical and time saving, this option is one of my favorites. Organize the book in the order you want the pages. Then take your pages to your local copy center or Kinkos, and let them do the work. You can pick out a cover sheet, backing sheet, and spiral that will protect your book. Tell them how many copies you want, and then come back at the end of the day for your books. Depending on the size of the book you’ve organized, it should only cost you a few dollars per book.

Traditionally Bound Book

Definitely a more expensive option, but when you’re holding that bound book, you’ll be happy you did it. You can probably find someone in your area that binds books, but you may have to look around a bit. There are also book binding companies that will do the work remotely and then send you the books. This option could be pricey, but if cost isn’t that much of an issue, go for it!

A publisher that can create soft and hardbound books with no order minimum can be found at Family Heritage Publishers (as the name suggests caters to family history work).

Another great publisher (large company with a whole lot of options) is Lulu has no order minimum other than your first book, and the prices are excellent. What’s really impressive is that once you’ve created your book, you can set up an online store front for your family/customers, and they can order the book right off the website.

That means that you don’t have to order a gazillion books and hope to high heaven that enough family members or customers purchase your book. When someone orders your book from the Lulu website, the book is created and shipped, so there’s no inventory you have to carry! I wish that some of the old family history books in my family line were setup like this because many of the books were only made in one printing which ran 30 years ago. You can, for a relatively small fee, also apply an ISBN number to your book. You have the option of making yourself or Lulu the publisher of the book. Either way, you retain copyright to the book’s content.

A Formatted Book with Family Tree Info

There is a free book organizing and formatting service by that will allow you to create a family history book, add historical information about the time period, and automatically include pictures and family tree information. You can then download your book to your computer or order physical copies to be sent to you. It’s an option worth checking out, since it can reduce a lot of the work of putting a book together.

Whichever way you decide to go, making a family history book can be a lot of fun and well worth it once the project is over.