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Genealogy Resources: Writing Family History

Family Histories

The Waco Genealogy Center has a collection of over 1,500 family histories. These are volumes published by family researchers about a variety of family lines. You can search for family histories in our library catalog by clicking here. For most items in the family history collection, the main surnames will be entered as subject terms. Try searching for the surname followed by the word family. Example: [Grote family].

If you would like to browse the available family histories you can find them in the Genealogy Center in the call number 929.2. The Genealogy Collection is non-circulating which means these items cannot be checked out, but you are able to view them at the library.

Other Writing Opportunities

If you'd like to start with a smaller project, consider writing for a genealogical publication. Many genealogy societies publish periodicals that contain articles written on a variety of topics. These might be a biographical sketch of an ancestor, a brief history of a town or church, record transcriptions, or a story about a research experience. The Central Texas Genealogical Society publishes Heart of Texas Records on a quarterly basis. Click here to visit their website and learn more. 

Writing a Biographical Sketch

This video is part 12 in our 12 part series, Building and Researching Your Family Tree. To see the other videos in this series, please click here.

Ideas for Your Book

There are many different kinds of family history books. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Family Photo Album: Scan family photos and have a photo album printed. Identify the names, places, and events in the photos. Include a family tree or family group sheet so future generations can know how people were related. You could also include items like maps, news clippings, or other documents.

Memoir or Biography: Focus your family history on the life of one ancestor or couple. This is great if you have a lot of information about one generation. Include photos and stories. This is a great way to capture information that is not found in typical genealogy records and preserve it for future generations. 

Transcription of Letters or Journals: If you have family journals or letters in your possession, transcribe them to create a book. Arrange the material in chronological order. Add annotations or keys that help explain relationships or places. Add photos, news clippings, and other documents as relevant. 

Traditional Family History: Choose an ancestor and document their descendants. You can choose to include all descendants or just individuals along a certain line or in a certain location. 

Whichever format you choose to use, be sure to document your sources and only include factual information.

Resources

The Waco McLennan County Library has many books available for check-out that can help you prepare to write your family history. A few are linked below.

After You Publish

What do you do with your book once you've finished writing?

  • Distribute copies to libraries. Think about the libraries in your area as well as the libraries in the places your ancestors lived. Your book may help a future researcher.
  • Gift the book to family members. Inspire others to share family stories. You've created a way to pass on the family legacy.