The Family Yearbook

This is homecoming weekend for my high school. I didn’t make it to last night’s game (we won!) but I did pull out my yearbooks and spent some time looking back and remembering the people, places and events that were such a big part of my life years ago. It dawned on me that a yearbook would be a great way to document our current family history. From newlyweds and new babies to golden anniversaries and even memorials for those who have passed on, a yearbook could easily become a family tradition that builds a history for future generations. The more I think about it, the more I like this idea. Bear with me . . . I’m thinking “out loud” here.

It’s been a pretty active year in my family, so this would be a good year to kick one off. The first one will be the toughest because I’ll have to do most of it myself. If the “premier” edition is a big enough hit, it should make it easier to get family members to pass on news and pictures to be included in the next one. Even with help, a yearbook will require a lot of time and energy to create.

I’m looking at some kind of photo book format – preferably one like Blurb or Lulu with an available storefront. Although I may give away some finished books – especially the first year – I want to make it easy for others to get a copy and, hopefully, build an archive so previous issues will be available to extended family or new members. I’ve made some progress getting family members to use Flickr for photo storage and sharing, and both these platforms support pulling photos from Flickr. That could make it easier to get others to share photos for future yearbooks.

So, what do I want to put into my yearbook? Here’s some of my initial thoughts. If you’ve got any ideas, I’d be delighted to see them.

  • One of my first thoughts was that the “centerfold” should be a photographic family tree. The focus would be on living family members – so everyone could see how they fit into our “blended” families of today. It sounds like a good idea, but the actual construction could be quite a challenge. And, we’d have to go back a generation or two to make many of the cousin connections. Will all this fit onto one two-page spread?
  • Instead of the classes in my high school annual, I’m considering a section of family groups. Ideally, each group would include an annual group photo along with plenty of snapshots from vacations, Little League and soccer teams, new homes and any other things that family considers interesting.
  • A spotlight section gives focus to special accomplishments like awards, honors and other recognition. Our family is blessed with some amazing talent so there’s always a blue ribbon from a county fair or art show to acknowledge.
  • Of course there’s always those special family events – weddings, new babies, graduations and anniversaries – to celebrate.
  • And, there will be memorials to those who passed away during the year.
  • Our family’s full of great cooks so we could include a recipe or two each year. The question is . . . should this be part of the family sections or a section of its own?
  • What about a legacy section to bring in some earlier family history with each yearbook? I could recruit members to submit articles on a family history topic of their choice. From documenting the origin of a family heirloom to a biographical sketch of an ancestor to photos from some family event, these articles could not only expose family members to their history, but also inspire the authors to get involved in a little family research.
This would be a major project each year requiring a lot of effort. We all know what it’s like trying to get people to commit to a project, let alone live up to their commitments. Even so, the result could be well worth the effort and frustration. I’ll keep you updated as I work through these ideas and build my initial yearbook.



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