My Family History Book

My Family History Book

One side of my family history is preserved in this book that was a passion project for my grandmother and 25 other family members.

I finally cracked open my family history book. Well, it’s actually my grandmother’s book that she passed down to my mom, but the history in it is all of ours. I remember seeing it often during my childhood, because it was a passion project for my grandmother, her siblings and their cousins. She would occasionally share something that I thought was “cool”, like that we were related to a famous General.

My grandmother has been gone for nearly 25 years now and I had not thought about the book until recently. At my request, my mom dropped it off to me and I have to say that it is a bit overwhelming. There are 320 jam-packed pages plus dozens of clippings, documents and more stuck in throughout the book. Most of it was produced on old typewriters, so the formatting isn’t quite as pleasing to the eye as our modern day books. So, it’s been sitting on a shelf a for a couple of months now, but a few days ago, I decided it was time…

So what do I do with my family history now that I have it?

My Family History Book Preface

After I read the Preface, I knew I was ready to join with my ancestors in preserving our family history.

If I take this project on, it’s a big commitment. So it begs the question, is it worth it? Will anyone find what is inside valuable or interesting? What information inside is most important? I opened it and saw Grandma’s distinct handwriting on the title page and it reminded me again of how she had valued this book. I turned to the next page and read the short hand-written Preface by one of Grandma’s cousins. By the time I finished reading it, I had goosebumps… This was MY family history and my ancestors were hoping for their stories to live on after they were gone…  No, I wouldn’t be returning the book to Mom anytime soon.

On the next page was a letter of introduction that included the names of the 26 people, including my grandmother, who had labored on this project. The letter explained how the book was organized, but what got my attention was the paragraph that said that the curators of this history didn’t want just a genealogy book, but also wanted their descendants to know the stories of the families in the book. Isn’t that really what everyone wants to know once they start tracing their roots?

So this is where my journey begins. I believe I will start by signing up for and seeing how it works and what I might gain from it and what I can contribute to my family history.

PS. I didn’t even realize when I opened that book the other day, that it was Grandma’s birthday. I usually think of her on birthday, but the date hadn’t registered with me this year… at least on a conscious level, but something must have been at work! She would have been 118!


  1. Devon Noel Lee says

    How is your project coming along?

    • Val Brennan says

      Hi Devon. Thanks for asking about my project. Since Summertime is so busy, that I’ve put it aside until the Fall. However, it has been interesting to talk about some of it with a few family members!

  2. I think of the difficult way that Mom and her family did the research. Most of it was done by letter with a few phone calls. (Those cost money that few could afford.). Occasionally one of Mom’s cousin would come to visit for a few days. The whole time was spent on adding to the research project. Hours turned into years of difficult research before the book was compiled. Now we have computers and can get answers instantly.

    • Val Brennan says

      Mom, that is so true. It seemed so amazing at the time that they created that book. I can only imagine what Grandma would have thought of the tools available on the internet. Not to mention how easy it is to format, update, and search your own work – and even to print beautifully formatted books at a reasonable price.

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