One of the most frequent comments I hear from Ancestry.com members is, “My family tree goes back eight (or ten or twelve) generations, and I want to include all of them in my family history book.” So just to clear up any confusion: When you create a MyCanvas family history book, you have to START with three, four or five generations. But there’s no limit to the number of generations or the number of ancestors you can include in your book. There is a page limit, however ― 250 pages ― so if you have a very large tree you may want to create multiple volumes focused on different branches.
I thought it might be helpful to walk you through the steps for creating a family history book that goes back more than five generations. I last covered this topic in the blog a year ago. Since then we’ve made a few changes to the interface, so it’s probably a good time to revisit this topic.
If you’re new to MyCanvas, Ancestry.com’s online self-publishing service, you can get to it by clicking the “Print & Share” tab from the Ancestry.com home page or by clicking the “Publish & Print” button from your online family tree:
You can also go directly to http://mycanvas.ancestry.com. I may be biased, but I suspect that this will soon be one of your favorite sites, so you’ll probably want to create a bookmark so that you can easily find your way back later.
From the MyCanvas home page, click the “Start a Project” button to see the available product categories.
To explore the various cover options for family history books, click “Learn More” in the vertical navigation menu at the top of the page, then click “Covers & Binding.”
Don’t spend too much time obsessing about the cover options at this stage, since you can always change your cover choice later. Really the only thing you can’t change later is the size of your book, so think carefully about whether you’d rather make an 11×8.5-inch book or a 14×11-inch book.
From the “Choose a Product” page — which you can get to from the “Products” link in the vertical navigation menu or the “Start a Project” button on the home page — choose “Family History Book.”
Then select a format for your book: Standard, Combination or Descendant. The format you choose determines what kind of chart appears on the first page of your book and which ancestors are automatically included in your book.
On the next page you’ll choose the size of your book and how many generations are automatically included. You’ll also select an online tree (if you have more than one) and a starting person (or couple, if you choose the Combination format) for your book. The starting person can be anyone in your tree.
In this example, I’m creating a combination, 4-generation book with my grandparents as the starting couple. That doesn’t mean that my book is limited to four generations. It just means that when I hit the orange “Continue” button at the bottom of the page, the system will automatically generate a set of pages — including family trees, family group sheets, timelines and record pages (if applicable) — for my grandparents and their children, parents and grandparents.
On my grandmother’s side, my information doesn’t go much further back than those first four generations. But on my grandfather’s side, I have some lines that go back eight or nine generations. I can easily include those more distant ancestors in my book by inserting additional pages. One of the lines for which I have a lot of data is my grandfather’s straight paternal line. In the family tree page at the beginning of my book, that line ends with Karl Speth, my grandfather’s grandfather.
I can add Karl Speth’s ancestors to my book by creating a new family tree page starting with him. To do this, I click the Pages icon in the main toolbar and then click “Add pages.”
A new page pops up, showing me all of the available family history page templates.
I select the Standard Family Tree and click the yellow “Add Page(s)” button in the bottom right corner.
I select a tree and a starting person for the new family tree page. The tree does not have to be the same as the tree I used when I started the book (although it is in this case). Note that I also have the option of adding other family history pages — family group sheets, timelines and record pages — for the people in the new family tree chart.
You can use this process to add family history charts starting with anyone in your tree, which is a good way to include distant ancestors as well as collateral ancestors like aunts, uncles and cousins. Once you’ve created all the family history charts you want to include in your book, you’re just getting to the fun part: adding photos and stories and customizing the design of your book. But that’s a topic for another blog post…