We love to work with genealogists and family historians to create beautiful family history books. That said, you might have expected us to be at RootsTech, “the world’s largest family history conference,” which was held last weekend in Salt Lake City, but we weren’t there. RootsTech is a wonderful event. We have certainly enjoyed it over the several years we attended and presented at the conference. So why don’t we go to RootsTech anymore? We decided Stories To Tell was simply not a good fit with the conference’s goals. The reasons for our decision are worth examining.
The key word at RootsTech is tech. The central idea of the conference is to introduce new technological tools and applications to attendees. You see a storm of databases, search tools, apps, templates and presentation tools. There are hands on classes in computer labs. Our founder, Nancy Barnes, taught some of them. For a number of years the Developers’ Conference on the first day of RootsTech was a showcase for the next big things in the application of technology to genealogy.
Each year we exhibited at RootsTech conference organizers and attendees alike asked us what new technology tool we had to offer. Did we have a new app or a template that people could use to create their family history book? The truth is that we didn’t. We use a number of complex technological tools to make beautiful books, but we haven’t come up with a one size fits all tool that anyone can use to turn their genealogical research into a family history book. More importantly, we don’t think we should.
Everyone’s family history is unique. They may have accumulated pedigree charts, family group sheets, documents, maps, photographs or other illustrations, research on historical contest, biographical sketches of ancestors, or maybe they have adopted a more narrative approach using creative nonfiction to concentrate on family stories. The mix of a lifetime of research is always different for each family historian. There is no way that a template or an app can produce a quality family history book from such a diverse mixture of accumulated materials. Family history books are first and foremost heirlooms, and creating an heirloom, a one of a kind item, is a custom project.
We believe that creating a family history book should be a collaborative process in which a family historian works with an editor and a book designer to create a book whose text, interior layout, and cover reflect the author’s unique vision. A quick glance at a few samples of family history we have designed and published will show you some very different looks. What you’ll find inside is just as different. We think that's what makes a beautiful heirloom book. That can’t be done using an app or a template.
That’s why we no longer attend RootsTech. But, if you want to create a beautiful family history book, we’ll help you realize your dream.