Writing Your Own Family History: Part 1

Passing on History

One of my favorite client requests is to create a family history book. It is fun to look past the dates and places and search for the stories that make the people come to life. Everyone wants to have a family history on their family, but the project is often too daunting a task to start. I am going to posting a series of tips and steps to help you write your own family history.

Where to begin? Most people who want to write a family history have already started gathering names, dates, and places. Many people already have this information in a genealogy program. If you don’t already, organize your information with one of the many genealogy programs. It doesn’t matter which one you use. Just find which one works best for you.

My next tip will cover why it is so important and how you can use any one of these programs to give you a jump start on writing your book.

Here are my top four programs.

PAF: Personal Ancestral File is a free program provided by FamilySearch. It is a great program for the beginner. Free downloads can be found here.

RootsMagic. This is usually my program of choice. It is similar to PAF, so there isn’t a steep learning curve if you are familiar with PAF. It has extra features that helps me stay organized better. There is also a free download for RootsMagic Essentials here. It has the core features of the full RootsMagic program.

Family Tree Maker. Produced by Ancestry.com, it’s biggest feature is that it syncs with Ancestry.com and it is easy to go back and forth from researching on Ancestry.com to imputing data into your tree. There isn’t a free download, but you can view more features here.

Legacy. I have the least experience with Legacy, mostly because I was introduced to it after the others. I have used it and it is a great program. It is the program of choice for many of my colleagues in the genealogy community, due to it’s advanced features. There is a free download of the standard version here.

So pick your program and start entering all of the research you have been gathering!