Where I’m From Poem Scrapbook

In November 2015, Lisa Louise Cooke published a Genealogy Gems podcast featuring Kentucky poet laureate George Ella Lyon on the show.  The show was fantastic and inspiring. It had a great call to action, “Write a poem about your family and where you’re from.”

Lisa offered listeners, who accepted the challenge and called her show, the opportunity to win some great prizes. The deadline for the contest was December 31st. A Patient Genealogist Devon Noel Lee (er, hem, me) had a poem written about my husband’s side of the family long before the deadline.

But I should also call myself A Procrastinating Genealogist because I never called into the show to read my poem. When I heard the small number of entrants, I could have kicked myself for being slow on the draw. Way to go those who followed the call to action!

All is not lost because the show a) motivated me to action and b) I created a great Christmas gift. My mother-in-law loves it. The one brother-in-law who received their copy this year, didn’t seem as thrilled. There are two other beloved in-law families who will receive their copies in the coming years. (So, let’s keep this a secret!)

Creating Heritage Scrapbook in Mixbook
Mixbook.com photobook designer is easy to use

Mixbook.com is my preferred digital scrapbook and photobook printing company. They are one of the few companies that offer the 8.5×11 portrait orientation photobook, which is my preferred size for our annual family scrapbook and for my heritage scrapbooks. For this project, I broke with my preferrance and opted for the 8.5×8.5 square layout as these will be gifts to family members who may or may not want it. So, I opted for a smaller size.

I chose the “Book of Remembrance” template for this project which provides a pre-selected color scheme that fits with my goals for this scrapbook. The key for this project was speed. My husband and I worked on the poem together and wanted to place an order in time for the books to arrive in relatives hands who lived a minimum of 4 hours away. So, the template saved me design time.

Here’s a peek at what I created.

One layout for the 3 generations of my in-laws

The “Where I’m From” poem is essentially a list of ideas compiled into a piece that has no set structure or form. My in-laws page came together perfectly and had two statements about one half of the couple and joined by the word add. I repeated this two-statement with and conjunction pattern three times and that was the entry about one couple on the family tree. My husband said that was the pattern and form for the rest of the featured generations, which made simplifying or stretching statements for different couples a challenge.

For the layout for the four generations, I had the “I’m from…” title in the same spot. Then the journaling was always on the left hand side of the page. On the right hand side of the page, I used a photo of the couple or balanced two photos of the couple if I didn’t have a high quality joint photo. Finally, I included the full name of each person in the couple.  If it was a single photo, the joint name was in the black border below the photo. If I used two photos, I would put the names right below the person in the couple and then lined the photos and text up.

Mixbook Pioneers who crossed the plains

Once I was out of the 4 generations, I still had pages that I needed to create in order to meet the 20 page minimum for a printed photo album of this kind. So, I broke from the 6 statements per couple pattern and created a statement that would apply to a group of individuals that took the book back two more generations. Here’s a page that says, “I’m from Pioneers who crossed the Plains.” The text is always on the left side of the page. The photos and the names of the individuals are on the right. I attempted to only focus on the faces of the particular individual. When I only had a group photo and I was unable to crop out ‘extra’ individuals, they appear in the highlighted individual’s photo but I didn’t name them.

Where I'm From Poem in Photobook

Some categories took me back to a time before photos were available or these individuals do not have photos that have been preserved. In such cases, I still wanted to include the ancestor but I didn’t want to put a silhouette for them. Instead I created a ‘monogram’ of sorts and put their names below this element. This layout had so many photos, the mono grams were placed on the left side of the page to maintain readability of the names.

Heritage Scrapbook with photos and text

This layout had an equal number of ancestors with photos and without. So, this layout features the monograms and the photos with names below. On the middle row of photos in the last position, you’re eyes are not playing tricks on you. That is a photo of a photo of an ancestor. There are no other currently available scans of that photo, so I made do with what I had!

I had so much fun creating this little treasure with my husband. He did a great job of helping me determine the exact wording for the photos and group the 5th and 6th generation ancestors into categories.

I hope my children and my nieces and nephews will enjoy this book as much as I did creating it. It was simple and quick, which I love, but packs a punch. It doesn’t give all the details to the ancestor’s stories. Perhaps, it will trigger enough interest that the younglings will ask their parents and grandparents to tell them more.

What’s also pretty cool… this book can be a foundation to switch out my in-laws from the front cover to a one of their siblings. Then, half of the book is ready to go for another keep sake featuring my husband’s aunts and uncles. That’s why I LOVED digital scrapbooking.

If you haven’t written a “Where I’m From” poem, you should. Listen to Lisa’s podcast to learn more. Then, take the poem to the next level and create a photo book. Your book may not be anything like mine because you have a different list of items, but you have a basic idea. Put part of the poem on one side of the page and put photos on the other side! Easy, peasy.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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