What is Genealogy
Tid Bits
Tips and Gotcha's
Top ten myths
Top ten reasons to do it
Just for Fun
Getting Started
An exercise using a pedigree
Paperwork organization
Preserving your records
Labeling your records
Maps and geography
Old style dates
Old style handwriting
Tombstone reading
Calculating relationships
Family reunions
PC Software
Genealogical Programs
Genealogical Numbering Systems
Family Group Sheet form
GEDCOM format
Descendancy report
Ahnentafel report
Recap and Statistics
The data pyramid
Source Documents
Record types
Vital and primary records
Manuscript archives
Censuses and the soundex
Actual examples
Where to Look
Where to do your research
Kansas City area research
U.S. GenWeb
Recent immigrants
Ellis Island
African American
Native American
Hispanic American
Recommended web sites
Certified professionals
Genealogical publishers/sellers
Recommended books
Publishing your family history
Forms to use
Dewey Decimal system
Homework assignment

Publishing Your Family History

After all of your efforts at gathering and organizing your family history information, you need some means of sharing it with others. This sharing serves several purposes:

  • others see what you have learned
  • others have an opportunity to correct or add to what you have gathered
  • seeing something in front of them often triggers others to contact you about the family
  • the information is disseminated for future generations to review

There are many ways to distribute your family history. Some of these ways include:

  • letters
  • newsletter
  • pedigrees and other charts
  • family group sheets
  • chronologies
  • web site of your family
  • full write-up on selected families
  • full write-up on entire family branches

Publishing a Book on Your Family History

Many genealogical software products have a book publishing feature. Some include options for publishing your information for a web site. You can also use a word processor or other desktop publishing software to create your family information in whatever layout you desire.
Beyond the genealogical data per person, consider including the following information in your publication:

  • table of contents
  • last name index with married women both by maiden name and married name(s)
  • index of all persons by first names
  • index of persons by geographical places
  • maps
  • pedigrees
  • ahnentafel chart
  • photographs
  • bibliography
  • full citations of where all of your information can be found
  • statistics by family (e.g. ages, marriages, children, generational info, average death age, etc.)
  • lists of persons per cemetery, school, military service, religion, occupation
  • descendancy lists

Consider which repositories in which to deposit a copy of your publication. These repositories might include:

  • Library of Congress
  • LDS Church (they will ask your permission to microfilm your book)
  • some of the top genealogical libraries (see a separate list in this document)
  • national genealogical societies including DAR and SAR
  • libraries and/or genealogical/historical societies for the area where your relatives lived

When seriously considering publishing your family history in book form, and you want professional help, you should consider contacting a publisher BEFORE you begin writing the book. Publishers will offer advice and tips plus steer you around problems. Their advice may prevent you from re-doing work later.

Selected U.S. publishers specializing in genealogical books:

Publishing Your Family History on the Web

There are many advantages, and disadvantages, to publishing your family history information on the world wide web. Some advantages include:
  • usually cheaper that having a book published in printed form
  • easier to change the web information as opposed to the printed form
  • the look and feel of the web pages can easily be changed
  • can use links to navigate from any given name/word to some related information
  • no mailing costs involved, and anyone anywhere in the world can access it (using a computer, of course)
  • the text can be searched, thus, no need to produce an index

On the flip side, the disadvantages of publishing the family history on the web include:

  • if information about living persons is included, it can be accessed by identity thieves
  • the web pages can be viewed only as long as someone continually pays for storing the web pages on a computer connected to the Internet
  • potential viewers of the family history must be using a computer that can connect to the web
  • the various browsers that people can potentially use, including separate versions of each of the browsers, makes it a challenge to know what to include and not include as far as advanced browser features

Before you begin building web pages, you need to:

  • Determine who is your intended audience
    • family members
    • other researchers
    • anyone
  • Set what information to include and what not to include
    • anything about persons currently living -- this is a very important decision
    • specific family
    • everything for a given surname
    • all genealogical data you have
    • photographs and images of documents
    • thumbnails of photographs and images
    • table of contents
    • reference materials (e.g. glossary, bibliographies, etc.)
    • links to other web sites
  • Decide if any indexes are needed and if so, in what order should they be
    • last name then first name
    • first name then last name
    • geographical places
    • special lists such as military service, cemeteries, schools, photographs, occupation, religion, etc.
  • Choose how the the data should be laid out, arranged and organized
    • by generation
    • by surname
    • by family
    • by family groups
    • chronological
    • alphabetical
  • Establish the basic look and feel of your web pages
    • how many pages
    • how users will move from one page to the next, or previous
    • titles and headings
    • background colors, logos and watermarks
    • fonts faces (e.g. Times Roman, Courier, Arial, etc.)
    • font sizes
    • bold and italics
    • colors
    • orientation (i.e. scrolling vertically and/or horizontally)
    • outline or paragraph format
    • graphics

A good book to see for tips and specifics on how to put your family history on the web is Web Publishing for Genealogists, second edition by Peter Christian (2000, Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., Baltimore, $11).

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Copyright © 2004- by Larry Wilson, all rights reserved