Bibliography of Family History Writing Guides

This bibliography offers a wide variety of helpful books to get you write your family’s history. Many of these books are available at your local library, favorite bookseller, or online at

Barrington, Judith. Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edition. The Eighth Mountain Press, 2002. ISBN 0933377509. This practical guide leads both experienced and novice writers through the writing process from idea to publication, addressing such technical problems as theme selection, voice, tone, form, plot, scene, and character development as well as how to stimulate creative thinking and build necessary discipline.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Carmack’s Guide to Copyright and Contracts. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009. ISBN 0806317582. Before you publish your family history, this book is a must read. The author answers questions such as “Do I need permission to use something on the Internet?”, “Can I reproduce a newspaper obituary without permission?”, and “How do I know what’s in the public domain?” These questions and many more pertaining specifically to genealogists are covered in this volume.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. You Can Write Your Family History. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009. ISBN 0806317833. There’s no reason a fully documented family history can’t read like a page-turning novel. In this concise and accessible book, the author shows genealogists, history buffs, and writers at all levels exactly how to record the fascinating tales of their ancestors.

Daniel, Lois. How to Write Your Own Life Story: The Classic Guide for the Nonprofessional Writer. Chicago Review Press, 1997. ISBN 1556523181. Using the method of writing bits and pieces as you remember them rather than chronologically, the author gently encourages you to write your story whether you believe you are a writer or not. This book offers tips on topics to write about, memory jogs, and how to capture your stories without getting bogged down. Examples from various writers are used to inspire the reader.

Elgin, Duane, and Coleen LeDrew. Living Legacies: How to Write, Illustrate, and Share Your Life Stories. Conari Press, 2001. ISBN 1573245526. This beautifully designed and illustrated guide escorts readers through the process of writing down their stories and illustrating them with photographs, memorabilia, and other images

Gouldrup, Lawrence P. Writing the Family Narrative. Ancestry Publishing, 1987. ISBN 0916489272. A clear and concise explanation of how to write your family history, Writing the Family Narrative will teach you how to bring all those seemingly disjointed facts together into a narrative which entertains as well as informs. Examples are provided throughout to illustrate the concepts presented.

Greene, Bob, and D. G. Fulford. To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come. Doubleday, 1993. ISBN 0385467974. A step-by-step guide to creating written and oral personal histories for preserving family history and passing it on to future generations. The book is filled with questions to help you write a personal history or to ask family members. The questions are designed to stir memories long forgotten.

Hatcher, Patricia Law. Producing a Quality Family History., 1996. ISBN 0916489647. The author guides you through the steps required to create an attractive and functional family history. This book covers everything from organizing your work and incorporating social history in the narrative to working with photographs, choosing type faces, and the importance of grammar styles and proper punctuation.

Kempthorne, Charley. For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History. Heinemann, 1996. ISBN 0867093811. A practical guide that will give you a thorough understanding of how to write a family history. This book will teach you to set the scene, write realistic dialogue, and explore the world of narrative writing. The author offers tips and suggestions to help you publish your completed family history.

Spence, Linda. Legacy: A Step by Step Guide to Writing Personal History. Swallow Press, 1997. ISBN 080401003x. Through a series of thought-provoking questions about each phase in life, the author helps readers to record their personal history. These questions will help you to produce a personal history to share with your family. From childhood through adolescence to your adult years, you have a story to tell that can connect the generations.

Thurston, Dawn and Morris Thurston. Breathe Life Into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read. Signature Books, 2007. ISBN 1560850949. The pages of this book are filled with helpful advice and examples to help the reader create an interesting, well-written life story. The authors have presented a methodical approach to putting your thoughts and stories on paper. This book will be helpful to those who have always wanted to write their life story but never had the courage to pick up a pen. It also serves the experienced writer well with ideas, hints, and tips to overcome a writer’s block hurdle.