ScrapMoir How-To #32: Create Your Family Tree Scrapbook or Memoir

by Bettyann Schmidt on June 9, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #99 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

by Bettyann Schmidt

This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage. ~ Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

A Note to Memoir Writers: We Are Powerful

In an article by Andrea Coombes for Market Watch, Baby Boomers were asked what was most important to them. The answer is surprising:

Seventy-seven percent of boomers said understanding their parents’ values is very important, 65 percent said enacting their parents’ last wishes is key and 34 percent felt receiving their parents’ sentimental treasures is very important…just 10 percent of boomers said it was very important that their parents bequeath financial assets or real estate. And 96 percent of boomers said their parents don’t owe them an inheritance; 95 percent said they’re not counting on an inheritance for their financial well-being. However, 73 percent said their parents’ personal possessions are very important, and 91 percent said family stories are.

Here’s a second quote to ponder. Mark Zesbaugh, chief executive officer of Allianz Life Insurance Company said:

People want to deal with the emotional values of what a legacy is, not just the financial values.

These two quotes give even more validation to what I’m doing — creating family scrapbooks and writing my memories. Both are valuable and valued. I don’t think this importance can be stressed enough. We have power to change lives in the future, to light the way for and give hope to those who come after us.

We can plant our Family Tree roots in the soil of the hearts of those who follow in our footsteps.

Digital Memories and Memoir

I love digital scrapbooking. I still create my physical albums and also love working with the paper products and the actual photos. Digital scrapbooking, however, takes the prize when it comes to online writing, or when creating a book you plan to print. We now have great, reasonable sources for ordering page prints online, and lots of scrapbookers use this method and put the delivered pages into their own albums. Some have the companies print and bind the albums for them.

My family history book project differs a little from the above methods. I’m writing in MS Word and inserting my digital scrapbook pages as jpeg files, which are actually big digital pictures, into the Word document. Then I’ll save the book in PDF format.

A Family Tree Scrapbook or Memoir

Writing a family history memoir can take the shape of several different formats, but I’ve chosen to combine my family forms and documents with the stories and photos. The Family Tree is central to my book.

I know the stories are the most important part of the book, but giving our readers the ability to see the family connections and documentation is also important in helping to make family members and ancestors more personal, making them real people.

I’m including both sides of my family in my book, so this project started out overwhelming. Combining photos, documents, and stories into a readable and interesting book can scare the bravest soul.

The real trick to making my system work is organization. The historic documents are either downloaded from ancestry sites (census records, birth, death and marriage documents, etc.) or scanned onto my hard disk from actual papers. All of these type files go into a folder named “Documents” inside my “Family History” main folder.

Other sub-folders in the main Family History folder are named “Photos,” “Manuscript,” and “Research.” A three-ring binder houses hard-copy backups of everything as well as a flash drive with the same information.

Family Tree

Creating a digital family tree page for your memoir or scrapbook is easy if you use a template. You can purchase a tree or chart template from one of hundreds of online retailers. The above layout was created with my ACDsee digital imaging software and the “My Family Tree” digital kit from Heritage Scrap. I’m not an affiliate for Heritage Scrap and receive no money by sending anyone to their site, but I purchase digital scrapbook products a lot, and they offer a great line of kits that I like.

Decide on which photo software you will use. Both Photoshop Elements and ACDsee offer a free 30-day trial, which I recommend so you will be able to judge what’s right for you. Then shop around on the net to find great deals on digital scrapbook templates and kits. Many are even free.

Along with your word processing program, your stories and your photos, you now have what you need to create your own Family Tree Scrapbook or Memoir.

Please leave a comment below with any questions or for more information. I’d also like to hear how you create your own family tree and story pages and whether you have bound them into book form. Let’s exchange ideas!

And be sure, if you haven’t yet, to download a free copy of my e-book here on Women’s Memoirs: ScrapMoir: 7 Steps to Combining Your Photos, Your Memories, Your Stories.

Bettyann Schmidt
Be sure to join me on my blog,


You may also be interested in Bettyann Schmidt’s article on:

Timeline Resources for Scrapbooking and Memoir Writing

My Own Scrapbook Memoir: A Book of Treasures


Bettyann Schmidt
Be sure to join me on my blog,

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