Publishing Your Genealogy

by Ruby Coleman

After years of diligent research, many genealogists decide to publish their family history. In this electronic age it can be done in a variety of ways, such as books, web pages and CD-ROMs. No matter what format you use for sharing your family history, careful thought and consideration should go into it.

Many genealogists share their efforts through Internet. This can be done through personal web pages or by submitting GEDCOM files to major databases. RootsWeb offers web pages for genealogists. For more information on this go to Large databases such as RootsWeb's World Connect at accept GEDCOM files to be included in their project.

If your genealogical software creates charts plus family histories, these can be converted to PDF files. Using a word processor, you can include the information, footnotes and documentation, along with photographs and scanned documents into a family history. Once done it can be converted to the Portable Document Format (PDF).

This particular format can be viewed by people using Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, Linux and even Palm computers. The software needed to read it can be downloaded free off Internet at http://www.adobe.cojm/products/acrobat/readstep2.html. To create the actual PDF file you will need Adobe Acrobat software. Some of the newer versions of word processing applications have the option of creating PDF files. The genealogy program, Family Origins 10, will create pdf files.

There is also shareware available for Windows and Macintosh. The PDF995 can be downloaded from Macintosh users can obtain a similar shareware application PrintToPDF at

Once you have created the PDF file or files of your family history it can be burned to a CD. Everything you have created remains the same and can read by anybody who has an Adobe Acrobat Reader on their computer. The files can be set with security options, thus guaranteeing a certain level of copy protection.

The next option is to write a book. Before you begin the process of compiling the information for the book, look at books that have been written. Make certain your research is accurate and well documented. Prepare a segment of what you want in the book and see how it will look if published. Consider the options and costs of having the book printed. How much will it cost people to buy the book? Contact publishers of genealogy books to learn more about the process.

Recently I had the opportunity to review the two volume set, The Burling Books: Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers, 1600-2000. The books were written by Jane Thompson-Stahr, foreword by Harry Macy, Jr., FASG, and published by Gateway Press. The author has received several awards, including the 2002 American Society of Genealogists, Donald Lines Jacobus Award.

While awards are great, the books stands out as an example of scholarly genealogical writing. The author has written a narrative history, documented through her strong research skills. The information is well organized, supported with scanned documents, photographs and complete footnotes.

The author shared some of her ideas about writing the books. She began research in about 1988 or 1989 and the books were published in 2001. Certainly she had accumulated a good deal of information before she decided to publish. In about 1992 she contributed a four part article to the 'New York Genealogical and Biographical Register." Perhaps a staging area such as this led her to aspire to put 'everything" into print. The publishers received the manuscript as camera ready April 2001 and the books were made available in August of that year. More information about Thompson-Stahr's books can be found online at

If you are interested in a major book production The Burling Books are a excellent example. Perhaps you want to start small with a booklet shared at a family reunion, or web pages on Internet or a shared family history on CD-ROM. Put time and thought into the project so you will have something worthy of all the years of your research.

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