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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

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Organizing a Family History Book, Part 2

Nan Barnes

There is another way to assure your book is compelling, and that is to proceed from the best of what you actually have. This may mean taking a topical approach, grouping your stories and research into sections and chapters that are something other than time periods.

Here are some examples if you were to group stories and research around important events:

  • Places We’ve Lived
  • Good Family Times
  • Careers & Skills
  • Travels
  • Achievements
  • Other/ Etc


On the other hand, you can use a topical organization for deeper themes:

  • Guiding Principles & Beliefs
  • Triumphs &Tragedies
  • Heroes & Villains
  • Faith & Religion
  • Historic & Social Changes
  • Other/ Etc


The possibilities for these topics are endless, and they are created from the family history stories and research you actually have. It takes some thought, though, and this may be an area where you work with an editor for “developmental editing”, to figure out the best way to organize what you have.

Within your topical order, you should be able to include all the same records, photos, stories, profiles, and whatever else you have gathered, that you might have put into a chronological book. Or you may choose to narrow your focus, developing the topic and eliminating some of the artifacts.

 The value of a topical organization is that for a casual reader that you hope to “hook” on family history, a topical order emphasizes what is important. You will be contextualizing information that otherwise they might find boring and distant.