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4 Ways to Make Your Family History Book More Engaging

By Vanessa Wieland
Two women looking at a family photo book.
Go beyond photos and captions in your next family photo book.

You’ve done a lot of research on your family history and you’ve found some fascinating stories. Did your great-grandparents have a beautiful love story? Was another ancestor a key figure in a big event? If you want a great way to share and preserve your family history in book form but you don’t want to write 50,000 words, there’s an easier way to document your story: Make a photo book.

Photo books are great projects for sharing family history. Once you’ve got all the essentials of your photo book planned out, take your project to the next level with these ideas for how to make your photo book even more engaging.

For more, check out our online workshop: Make a Family History Book in 3 Days.

1. Tell Your Ancestor’s Story with Fewer Words

You may not have 60,000 words to write about your ancestors, and that’s okay. There are plenty of stories that can be captured in a lot less. The key is to incorporate photos and documents, such as certificates, recipes, old letters…anything that helps tell the story. You’ll discover that with key visual elements, it’s not hard to fill up pages!

2. Put a Unique Spin on the Tale

How a story is told and who is telling it can add a unique flavor to a story, so it’s worth putting your own spin on the tale. You can share your own memory of the ancestor you’re documenting, or show the origins of a family tradition and how your family has evolved over time. Are you inspired by your great-grandparents love story or journey to America? Tell how their legacy continues to shine through the generations.

Plus, if you are giving this as a gift to another family member, you’ll be giving a one-of-a-kind gift that you can guarantee they won’t get from anyone else!

3. Enrich the Story with Historical Details

What was in the news at the time your ancestor lived? What local or global events were affecting them? Even if your ancestor wasn’t a soldier during a war, they might have had to deal with rationing or changes in their job. Add historical details through copies of old letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs of their hometown at the time.

4. Create A Timeline or Pedigree Chart

Of course, if you’re working with your family history, a pedigree chart is the perfect way to add a visual element to your photo book. But if you want another stunning way to add a visual graphic to your photo book, add a timeline! Timelines can serve as a decorative element in your book while illustrating the key moments in your subject’s story.