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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.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

My Canvas Retirement: The Best Alternative to Preserve Your Family History

Biff Barnes

If you are looking for ways to share your ancestor stories and family history, there are a growing number of online sites offering easy ways to do it. They provide templates with which you can upload everything from a single anecdote to a full book. These service providers also promise to store your stories either on-site with a cloud-based system.

Image courtesy of Chris Potter on Flickr under Creative Commons

We always encourage people to share their stories, but advise caution when embracing a net-based solution. The latest object lesson is’s decision to shut down its My Canvas publishing program. The family history giant announced that the service would be “retired” September 30th. Ancestry notified users of My Canvas:

What will happen to the content and unfinished projects I've saved to MyCanvas?

If you choose not to submit your project for printing before September 30, 2014, content uploaded, other than records from, will no longer be accessible and will be deleted.

Will I be able to download the projects I have created and saved?

Unfortunately, saved MyCanvas projects are unable to be downloaded and will be deleted on September 30, 2014. If your project was created on, you will have the option of printing project pages using your personal printer before they are deleted on September 30, 2014.

Simply put, if you used My Canvas it’s your problem. Good luck with that!

Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings Blog offers what is probably the best course of action to recover your files in his post The My Canvas Retirement Problem: Saving as a Set of PDF Files.

The My Canvas "retirement" illustrates the danger of relying on net-based storage to preserve your family stories. Ancestry’s decision is reminiscent of Yahoo’s 2007 shut down of Yahoo Photos and illustrates that the size of the provider offers little protection for your data. If you want to preserve your family history, heed the advice offered by Dag Spicer, curator of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, in a 2009 interview with David Pogue of the New York Times, who said:

Keeping it on the Web is also not a really great strategy. A very large photo site just went out of business, and they gave people, I think, a month’s notice to say, “We’ve run out of money, get your photos off the site and put them somewhere.” Web sites are fine for sharing, but in terms of preserving your data, I wouldn’t recommend it.

That’s why the Library of Congress says that paper remains the “archival medium.”

If you want to preserve your family history creating a custom family history book offers a printed volume that can last for a century or more.

If you are looking for an alternative that offers this kind real preservation for your family’s heritage contact us at Stories To Tell. We’ll be happy to help!