Creating a Family Scrapbook

how to make a family scrapbook
Put together a great family scrapbook for your genealogy materials

Photos and documents tucked away in a binder are fine for storage but sometimes you want a more visible and attractive way of displaying your family tree collection. A genealogy scrapbook is an ideal option.

The Book
First you need to get an appropriate book to do your scrapbooking in. There are many varieties out there since the scrapbooking hobby is so huge. If there is a chance you will have additional material to add once you start, which is often the case with any ongoing family tree research, you will want to get a book with removable pages or even a 3-ring binder style of book.

If you are going to be scrapbooking a part of your family that is basically finished, you can use any type of book with or without fixed pages. There are more styles available like this so you might have more fun with your scrapbook if static pages are fine. In any case, get a book of good quality that has acid-free pages.

Get it Organized
Before you get on to that first page, you should make a bit of a plan on how you want to put your family scrap book together. Are you going to target certain branches? How many generations are you going to showcase? Is it going to be ordered like a pedigree chart or perhaps you want to group your photos and memorabilia by event rather than by genealogical generations.

It might seem a little daunting at first but you should have fun with this project and not worry too much about how you organize things. This is just a scrapbook, not your actual genealogy database. Personally, I would go by generation with myself and my daughter first, then my parents and then both sets of grand-parents. Not sure how I would collect things after that.

Use Proper Materials
Even if you aren’t using originals in your scrapbook, you want your new heirloom project to last for a while. Use good quality materials intended for archive use rather than just cheap bits and pieces. Everything should be acid-free or you can end up with yellowed photos or faded pages.

Use Copies
And on that note of keeping everything safe, you should probably save your precious and valuable materials from possible harm by using copies instead of originals for your family scrapbook. Digital scanning can produce photos that are almost indistinguishable from the originals and will only cost a small amount to get printed.

Beyond Photos
Sure photos are very visual and tend to be the most important part of any scrapbook but to really document your family tree, don’t forget to include other documents as well. Copies of interesting newspaper clippings, and even vital records can be included along with the pictures to really create a full look at someone’s life.

Tell the Tale
Scrapbookers call this journalling, and it means to add your own writing among the other items. Tell a story, share your own memories, add some context. Even get some comments from the relatives being featured to really give some personal touches.

Add some Jazz
Embellishing your family scrapbook is where the fun comes in. Most craft stores will have huge departments for scrapbooking, and here is where you can get really artistic. Stickers, ribbons, lettering, paper die-cuts, ink stamps, photo corners and a lot more can provide a lot of visual interest and beauty to your pages. This is especially true of any pages that include drier non-photo documents. Try not to detract too much from the material itself. If your grandmother was a quilter, for example, add in some decorative elements to tell that to the reader. Make your family scrapbook as unique as the people inside it.