The plans for my October trip to Berlin are coming together. Items are being checked off my list and one by one I am 'getting there'. One item kept spinning in my mind, though, and that was "what do I take to Germany for a host gift"?
When my cousin, Gerhard, came to visit us in Michigan in 2000, along with his two 20'something grandsons, they brought hostess gifts. There are so many wonderful items in Germany that Americans would appreciate and in reverse it is hard to decide just what to take to Gerhard from the US that would be of interest to him.
After much debating in my mind, I hit upon an idea. I bounced it off my cousin, TK, of Before My Time, and she concurred that it would be a wonderful gift to take. And my idea for the gift is......
An Ancestry family history book!
I am a member of the Ancestry web site and while I find their membership fees very pricey, there is so much information contained in Ancestry that it is worth the expense. Those of you who also use the Ancestry site will recognize that Ancestry has added a feature that allows a user to create a family history book. I read the instructions and decided to tackle such a project. This decision was made 5 months ago.
Here we are today and what have I discovered about the Ancestry system of creating a family history book?
First, it takes an enormous amount of time depending on how large your family base is and how much you want to include. I was interested in doing just my Kolberg side, of course, since this book is tailored for my Kolberg cousins in Berlin. I first had to enter all my Kolberg data into the Ancestry family tree module. I am a Family Tree Maker user though I am thinking of switching to Legacy and TK and I are testing that program. Ancestry states that data from FTM can be transferred into the Ancestry family tree module but I found that would not work. I had way too many people in my FTM and the Ancestry module could not handle it.
Therefore, I had to downsize my original project, though in the end that was a good idea because the cost to do a complete Kolberg book would have been prohibitive. I decided to start with my earliest generations and continue down 3 generations until I reached my great-great grandparents and their 7 surviving sons. This was the generation that eventually immigrated to America so I stopped with that generation. That gave me 5 generations of Colberg/Kolberg ancestors to comprise my book.
Once the data was entered in the Ancestry module, I was ready to create my book. Decisions, decisions, decisions needed to be made on (1) which photos to include, (2) what background designs to use, (3) to use frames or not to use frames, (4) what Ancestry records to include and the list goes on. It started out as a challenge and continued as a challenge because there were so many formats to decide on.
When I finally had the book the way I wanted, I added a Dedication and an Introduction, arranged the pages so they would flow correctly and printed the entire book (60 pages) to see how I liked it. Of course, I ended up tweaking this and tweaking that and printing this and printing that until my eyes were crossed.
Today I finally decided I had a finished product and I told myself "enough already". I placed the order and am pleased with the final "look". Ancestry promises delivery in 2 weeks which I hope they are accurate on.
I do feel this is a very good host gift in this circumstance and I hope that Gerhard enjoys the book. I had previously published a 400+ page book myself in the late 1970's and many, many Kolberg cousins had purchased copies. That book was totally hand made, printed and collated by myself. Many cousins have over the years requested that I do an updated book and this Ancestry book would serve that purpose, too.
While my original book was a complete history down to the current generation, I did find some relatives (not many, but a few) who objected to my having current data in the book at that time that showcased information on relatives still living or information on spouses included after a divorce, etc. All this information was accurate and brought up the topic of just how much do we include in our research. That is a subject for another post but in this case, with this Ancestry book, I kept this book devoted to the earlier generations and did not include the present generations in it. To do so would have made my 60 page Ancestry book probably 500 pages!!
I wish it would be possible to give my readers a link here to view my finished book but that isn't possible with Ancestry. What I can do is this - anyone who would like to see the book, please place a comment on this post and I will e-mail you a link that you can access to see the finished product. Ancestry gives a great presentation where you can see the actual book with the pages turning so that you can get an idea of just how the finished product will come out.
Thinking of doing your own history book? It was fun and a challenge and a lot of hard work and I have reviewed it and proofed it so many times that I am dreaming about Kolberg ancestry. But I think it met my goal which was to find a host gift for my German cousins.
Now, shh, don't tell Gerhard about this book! I don't have to worry about him reading this blog post because I haven't told him my new URL and the saga of my blog that disappeared. Please make sure to note my new URL for my recreated blog so that you don't miss any of my posts on my trip to Berlin.