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I write all of my family history books using Register Reports. These reports were developed long ago by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS). They have been proven time and again as the clearest method of communicating from whom and how one descends.

But there are other items I include in my family histories and I will mention a few. Not all items discussed are used in every book, but a certain amount of decision making occurs in an attempt to make the book both informative and interesting.

I have identified some 52 grandfathers. A book is comprised of the highest level (generation) of a group which are related and descends until it reaches my own surname of Bourland. Thus I generally do not repeat data in any book appearing in another. A book can thus contain several (perhaps 5 to 7) surnames or at times 25 surnames.

The first section of a book is often a diagram of the families in the form of a Descendants Chart or Fan Diagram. If the descent is more complicated I will draw a diagram using colors to illustrate the descent of a surname until it changes by marriage, at which point the color changes. This helps the reader visualize the interrelationships more easily. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

A Table of Contents is appropriate and since all of my books end up in PDF form, tabs can be made for additional inclusions such as maps, a bibliography, and other somewhat extraneous items which nonetheless are related and interesting.

Next can come a history of the town or area from which a family originated. My father’s family remained in one Kentucky town for 200 years, so its history was significant. Here might be discussed the town’s formation, the industries and certain historical events and people.

In one case my relatives helped settle one town and as it enlarged settled several other nearby towns and in turn married into other surnames. Each of those towns might be discussed in terms of their history. In other cases research may have identified a particular section of the country from which we immigrated, and or the ship used to transport us may be known and described.

Because some families remained where they were, others moved one or more states and some were clearly westward bound, there may be a discussion included of how multiple families impacted numerous states. While such a discussion could be included in a Note of each person in every Register, the impact can be greater if moved to the front of the book.

Historical acts are sometimes included. For example when Thomas Hooker left Massachusetts and went to Hartford (where I lived for 35 years) I included a description of that trip over the ‘Connecticut Path’ used previously by Indians and now is generally U.S. Route 84.

Last to be mentioned might best be described with a what and why. In one book I included a rather long description of the War of 1812. Few know today much about that war and yet many of my ancestors were impacted by it. So I included a chapter in one particular book.

Any document such as a Register Report in Word can be saved as a PDF. There is software available which allow you to add a page or pages of PDFs to each other. Therefore, you can add diagrams, Tables of Contents and other writings to what is the essence of your effort represented by the Register Reports.

Hopefully the above will offer some suggestions of use to you as you create the legacy you hope to leave behind from your research.

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