Earlier this month, I presented an Ellerbee Family History scrapbook to my father-in-law in honor of his 80th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!!
This project is my 4th genealogical scrapbook, 3 traditional paper format scrapbooks and 1 digital scrapbook. The projects evolved as a different way to present information about a family. As mentioned in earlier blogs, I wrote a narrative history about my dad’s family in 2012. I then promised my in-laws to research each of their families. The first two projects, both paper scrapbooks, resulted.
Project #1: Simmons Family Scrapbook.
Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law, about his mother’s family. He knew his grandfather as Clay Simmons but little else about the family. My quest, then, focused on discovering his Simmons’ heritage. That quest led to our first genealogy field trip to east Texas (a topic for another blog post!). HIs grandfather’s full name was Henry Clay Simmons. Ancestors include James Aster Simmons, the first Baptist minister in Trinity County, Texas, circa 1856. The Simmons family traces back to Virginia (ca. 1745) and the birth of a man named William Simmons. I used different color schemes for each generation.
Project #2: Johnson-Reed Scrapbook.
Paper scrapbook created for my mother-in-law, whose maiden name is Johnson. I used a book of floral design papers as background. Rather than an in-depth look at a single family line, Nana Linda’s scrapbook embraces direct ancestors of both Papa (Horace) Johnson and Nana (Venette) Reed for 4-5 generations. Several years ago, my in-laws pulled out on old suitcase full of family pictures. Some of those pictures found their way into this scrapbook. A brief biography of a distant cousin who founded an Arkansas town added to the family tree.
Project #3: Posten Family.
Digital scrapbook for my 90+ year-old aunt; presented to her during our trip to Pennsylvania in August 2017. Our family tree extends to our oldest known direct ancestor, Thomas Postens (born 1782, New Jersey – died 1854, Pennsylvania). During my childhood, we traveled to Pennsylvania every other year. Trips became less frequent after Dad’s mother died in 1964, so this scrapbook focused on the more recent story of my immediate family. Page themes included weddings, three generations of military service and my sons. A shoebox of pictures inherited from my mother yielded pictures of Grandma Posten with me and my siblings. My aunt readily identified when and where each picture had been taken. My oldest son bears a definite resemblance to my dad and Grandpa Posten when they were in their early 20s.
Project #4: Ellerbee Family Scrapbook.
Paper scrapbook created for my father-in-law. I promised this one as supplement to Simmons Family Scrapbook. Years ago, Papa shared his copy of an Ellerbe family history (Ronald William Ellerbe, The Ellerbe Family History, Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc., 1986). The book represents an extensive history of multiple family lines with similar spellings of the surname. A boon to this genealogist! This scrapbook focuses on our direct family line, Ellerbee. Recent contact with a second cousin yielded copies of pages from a family Bible published in 1876. Yes, I gave credit for sharing those photos! Review of documents led me to a new appreciation of one widow’s journey from southwestern Georgia to eastern Texas in the early 1880s with 6 children aged 3 to 14.
Consider a scrapbook to share your next genealogical project. Choose a method – paper or digital. Time, resources and cost determine the size and method. Begin with a smaller project such as persons who fought in a specific war, a single generation or location, persons with the same given name through multiple generations, or stories about people in a family picture. The process of creating scrapbook pages can even help crack a brick wall! I used a single branch of the extended family for two of my projects. Think creatively about how to present information such as a census record.
Simple format, band of design paper on a solid background. Copy of 1910 Census, Cherokee County, Texas for W. J. Simmons, wife, Janie, and 4 of their 9 children. Small leaf sticker pointed to the family. Transcription of entry for W.J. Simmons is on next page for easy reading. In 1900, W.J. & family lived in Coltharp, Texas, a town which no longer exists. Picture of historic marker and information about the town followed the 1900 census record.
Family pictures, Bible records, and original documents are ideal for this type of project. Copies of these items abound in all of my scrapbook projects.
Check the cost of your chosen method. For a paper scrapbook, you will need the scrapbook itself, paper, plastic sleeves and tape. Use archival quality, acid-free paper and sleeves. Buy tape labelled for scrapbooking. A scrapbook kit provides these items , except for the tape, plus stickers and other add-ons. For a digital scrapbook, compare cost and other requirements such as minimum number of pages. Most offer templates and other helpful hints. Create your own pages or ask for help from one of their designers. Once the digital scrapbook is created, how will you distribute it? Digital and print copies are both options. Consider cost of postage to mail a print copy of the finished product to you and/or others.
For either method, allow plenty of time. The first two paper scrapbooks took about 6 months each because I could only work on them 2-4 hours or less per week. I had done little research on the Simmons family, subject of the first scrapbook, so gathering information took more time than for the other scrapbooks. Our scheduled visit to Pennsylvania dictated the time frame for the 20-page digital scrapbook which took about 20-24 hours total to create. The last scrapbook entailed two weeks of intensive work, about 30-40 hours per week.
For a comparison of Digital scrapbooking websites: https://www.comparakeet.com/digital-scrapbooking-sites/
Paper scrapbooks. Choose size of scrapbook. Sizes range from 4 inches x 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches. So many choices of papers and colors! Choose a theme such as color, location or event. When starting, purchase a theme kit or packet of design papers plus complementary or contrasting solid color pages. Allow time and money for multiple trips to the craft or scrapbook store! Wait for sales!! Scrapbook specialty stores often sell unique papers that cost slightly more than papers found in craft stores. Check online sources for paper and other items. Some online sources allow you to order single pages. I ordered a Civil War Confederate packet and a Korean War theme packet online. Take pictures of your finished product. You can then share these digital pictures with others in your family.
Develop a tentative table of contents, by section and/or page. The overall purpose of your project guides the sequence. In general, each section of my paper scrapbooks represented one generation. The section started with a printed family group sheet followed by pictures, census records and other documents. Final pages in the section told a story about a specific person or event through local newspaper reports, church/ county histories or a summary written by me.
One challenge is finding creative ways to present various documents. For a multi-generational family history, begin with a pedigree chart using a pre-printed, fill-in-the blank family tree form. Blank forms with handwritten entries personalize the scrapbook. Add stick-on items. Buy theme-based scrapbook packages at craft stores or online. I have jewels, flowers, letters of the alphabet, U.S. state decals, ribbon and leaves to add as accents. For the most part, I used fairly simple designs and shapes.
As you accumulate items, think about the information in or about the item. What is the most effective way to present the item? There are at least 3 men named William Green Ellerbee among the ancestors so green paper backs their stories. Use a state outline behind a document. Military symbols accompany copies of service records. A picture of a schoolhouse goes well with a copy of a school record. I wrote a newspaper-type story about a genealogical brick wall and presented it on (yes, you guessed it!) brick wall paper. A death certificate or tombstone picture on black paper with the words “In Memoriam’ is powerful. If available, add a picture of the person to a copy of a funeral notice. Add your own handwritten note to a census record – “6 year old Noah is listed as son but it is unlikely that 60-year-old Martha is his mother. Still looking for parents of Noah.” Sometimes, simply present the item on a solid color piece of paper.
Use contrasting and coordinating colors. The color wheel guides this concept. Complimentary colors, such as red and green, appear directly across from one another. Analogous colors, such as green and yellow, appear close to each other. Examples of various color schemes:
Choose a base color for your project, then expand by adding different color schemes for each page or section. For my mother-in-law’s scrapbook, a pink and maroon flower-themed paper guided color choices for the rest of the book.
Are source citations important for scrapbooks? I believe that the answer is, “Yes!” Plan space for citation when setting the page format. I added source citations for census records and other documents. For photos of the family Bible, my citation reads “Photos of pages generously provided by . . . . . ., descendant of . . . . .” Relate the provenance of the item in the photograph: “Handwritten journal kept by Grandmother Bailey, found at Grandmother’s house by Judith Bailey, current owner of the journal.” Format source citations for other records, such as census records, according to current genealogical standards.
These scrapbooks were time consuming, medium difficulty, rewarding projects. I had little personal experience with scrapbooking before I created the first one. My husband is a graphic artist who offered constructive criticism. Now, I regularly scour local craft stores for sales on scrapbooking items. I started with one family history themed scrapbook packet and bought multiple single pages. I now have 6 boxes of scrapbook paper in assorted themes, designs and colors. Last summer, I bought 2 boxes of scrapbook papers and accessories, worth about $70, for $10 at a garage sale. For the latest project, I bought 10 design specific pages but only used 4 of them. There are more stories in the documents!
What helped: Paper scrapbooks done in 2013 & 2014. Bought scrapbook supplies at various times during the past 4 years and only when on sale! Identified general color scheme of black, blue and green before starting current project. High quality copies of 3 pictures done at office supply store. Searched internet for page ideas. Genealogical research essentially complete on family before starting most recent project with most documents in paper or digital files.
What didn’t help: With 1st project, no experience with scrapbooking. No clear format in mind, minimal planning. Genealogical research ongoing throughout 1st project. This project — home printer malfunction halfway through. Printer was down for 4 days while we waited for part. Good news – we didn’t have to buy a new printer! Used printer downtime to create items on computer and plan rest of scrapbook pages. Started creating pages in the middle of the family line, which was a little confusing.
Suggestions for future: Tentatively plan sequence of sections and pages before starting. Inventory materials on-hand for ideas. Complete genealogical research as much as possible before starting scrapbook but remain open to new ideas or documents that may surface. Continue to look for scrapbook page ideas.
For more information, find print books about scrapbooking at your local bookstore or public library.
Websites you may find helpful (in no particular order):
Scrapbook your family tree (supplies and page layout ideas): http://www.scrapbookyourfamilytree.com/product-category/genealogy-scrapbook-paper/:
Scrapbooking genealogy (supplies and page layout ideas): https://www.scrapbookinggenealogy.com/
Scrapbooking Your Family History: http://www.thoughtco.com/scrapbooking-your-family-hitory-1420758
Scrapbook A Family Tree: https://www.familytree.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-a-family-tree/
Pinterest, ideas for page layouts and links for supplies: https://www.pinterest.com/rustico3059/scrapbook-your-family-tree/
The complete guide to starting your family tree scrapbook: https://scrapbookingcoach.com/the-complete-guide-to-scrapbooking-your-family-history-for-generations-to-come/
Scrapbooking Your Family History: A Beginner’s Guide: http://www.scrapyourfamilyhistory.com