Sunday, May 5, 2019

Using Shutterfly to Preserve Your Family's Stories

One evening, I got an email from a friend suggesting I check out a free 8x8 hardcover book Shutterfly was offering.  It was a game changer as far as recording my family history is concerned.

I took some of my favorite digitized photos of my grandparents and put them together in a simple format, just to familiarize myself with the ins and outs of making a book.  They offer pre-made templates and a"drag and drop" process that is easy to use. It was a relatively endeavor, and I got a nice little book my granddaughters enjoyed.

But this type of book was not what I was envisioning... I wanted something far more customizable with the ability to add much more text, and I had my own vision for format, backgrounds, and layout.  I wanted a way to preserve my family's stories, and to be able to add photos and maps to make them come to life.  Shutterfly has an "advanced editing" mode, which allows the user to customize every page, and it's relatively intuitive - a plus for people like me who hate to read instructions.

I began with a book of the family stories I'd grown up hearing, things that had been passed down from generation to generation, and interesting things about our ancestors.  One thing I learned: I had way more stories and anecdotes than I realized!  I put a second book together, followed by two more books of stories from my own childhood, recalling events involving my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people my granddaughters will never meet or know.  But they'll know them through these books.

When those books were finished, I wrote another of the history of my grandmother-in-law's pheasant farm, which was well-known in that locale, and had the honor of donating pheasants to the national zoo.  I put together another book detailing the life of my great-grandfather, a Danish immigrant who led a rather interesting life.  "The Grandma Book" is a tribute to the lives of my grandmothers - some have just one page, others have several pages of both stories and photos.  But all of my more recent grandmothers are represented.

Besides the blatant genealogy-oriented books, I came up with a few other ideas to sneak in a little family history.  I put together a book of the quilts I own, some of which I created, and others that are family heirlooms; each page tells a little about the quilt, its pattern name and its significance.   Another book contains favorite recipes from five generations of our family's cooks.   I put this book together early in the year, and when Shutterfly periodically offered a free or half-priced book I'd get another copy of it until I had enough to give as Christmas presents.  I also sneaked in a photo of each cook and a little of her background, and the significance of each recipe.  It was a unique and useful gift that was well-received.

I will take this opportunity to say that I have no affiliation with Shutterfly, and they are not the only company that offers this kind of service.  There are a million other ways you can use services of this kind to enhance your family history and leave something behind that almost anyone in the family would enjoy reading.