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Is It Time To Publish My Family Tree?

As an amateur genealogist, at some point you may have asked yourself when (or if) you should publish your family tree. The answer is easy — PUBLISH IT!


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As an amateur genealogist, at some point you may have asked yourself when (or if) you should publish your family tree. More than likely you have collected a great deal of family data and history over the years, and the question arises — what do I want to do with it? The answer is easy — PUBLISH IT! The positive thing is that you, as the owner of the information, can decide just how simple or complex a project you want this to be, allowing for your time, finances and energy-level.

Print a Copy of Your Tree for Family Members

With the holidays approaching, what would make a better gift for those hard-to-buy-for family members than a published copy of their family tree? This inexpensive publication project involves only a few simple steps: (1) printing out a family line from your database; (2) collecting a few family photos and writing up some family stories; and (3) carting it all off to your local printer to copy, collate and bind. Even with mailing costs, you won't have to mortgage the family farm, and copies of your research would actually in print and ready to share with family members.

Self-Publish a Hardcover Family Tree Book

If you want to publish a hardcover book of your family tree research, contacting others who have already self-published their family lineages makes good business sense. Most likely you have a few of those books in your personal genealogical collections. If not, check out the published family tree books in your area library — many of the authors will be local with contact information included. Most, when asked by me, were more than happy to offer advice and helpful contact information.

Publishing a hardcover family tree book will, of course, be more of a financial commitment. To help with and/or recoup some of the expenses involved, consider the following options:

• Ask other interested family members for help with costs, editing, etc.

• Co-author with another amateur genealogist researching the same or linked family lines

• Sell your books, after publication, at local libraries, historical & genealogical societies, etc.

Also, a couple of caveats to keep in mind when publishing your family tree:

(1) Go back and document sources on as much of your data as you can. Doubtless, you will still end up with data that you have no idea "from whence it came." At that point, you can make a decision whether or not to include the information. If you include it, be sure to add a disclaimer up front and ask for any corrections, additions, etc. A family tree, by its very nature, is always a "work in progress." In publishing my own tree, I adhered more to the adage of "when in doubt, leave it out." You can always keep the questionable information in your personal database for future reference and documentation.

(2) Be respectful of living individuals when deciding whether or not to include them in your family tree. If you decide to include living individuals, you may want to omit any personal information.

Think back to what motivated you to begin your genealogical quest in the first place. More than likely, it was an innate curiosity about your family background AND a desire to record and ultimately share that information with others. Simply decide which publishing method works best for you and, voila! There you have it — the result of your hard-earned research — a lasting printed document of your family heritage.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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