google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist

Create a Family History Book in 85 Days or Less

Why 85 days?

Because that is the exact number of days until Christmas 2015. 

You heard me; that’s what I said.

If you start now, it’s just the right amount of time to create a lovely family history book for your family this Christmas.

There are plenty of bookmaking companies to help you; you can have your pick. However, my first recommendation for creating family history books is MyCanvas by Alexander’s. With the MyCanvas templates for creating family history books, family tree posters and calendars it’s pretty easy to create a beautiful product in time for Christmas.

I’ve recently written an article about my experience creating a family history book with MyCanvas. You can read it on the MyCanvas blog.

MyCanvas has made some significant improvements since I made my first book. Of course you are not confined to a family history book, you can create family tree posters, custom calendars, collage posters and photo books.

MyCanvas was first established in 2007 by Alexander’s partnered with Ancestry to print the MyCanvas products and continues to print them today. When Ancestry made the announcement to discontinue MyCanvas, many family historians were devastated, Alexander’s came to the rescue and acquired the service.

Recently, Alexander’s has made a couple of changes to MyCanvas. They offer a new Share Feature. You can electronically share your book with friends and family, who can then print a copy from Share at any time.

And of course, the big one that many Canadians were waiting for, they now ship to Canada!!!!
Canadians, I have been told that your family history product will arrive at your door in 5-7 days. Of course, shipping costs will depend on the size of your book and quantity that you order. To get an estimate of shipping costs place your item in the cart and proceed to checkout where enter your location. For example, I priced a family tree poster and shipping to Canada was $15.00, pretty reasonable.

Currently, you still require an account to access the MyCanvas templates for family history books, posters and calendars. If you are an customer, your account will also give you access to However, I understand that these templates will soon be available to everyone.

As I’ve stated before Alexander’s offers wonderful customer service, their customer service department is open from 8 am – 5 pm Monday –Friday, MST.

If you would like to make any suggestions or give Alexander’s any feedback on the MyCanvas product, they are happy to hear from you, in fact they are seeking your input on any new features you may be looking for to help improve your experience with them.

So go ahead, with 87 days to go, you can confidently start your Christmas shopping now and create a family history book that your family will cherish.

(I am not an affiliate of MyCanvas and have received no compensation for this post. I’m just a happy customer)

Have you created a book using MyCanvas, would love to hear about your experience in comments?

New Tools for the Family History Writer

Many family historians struggle with writing their family history stories and that is partly due to not having the tools and knowledge they need to write those stories. I am dedicated to creating those tools to make life easier for family history writers. Today, I want to share with you  a variety of tools we have created over the last year to help in planning and writing those stories.

Online Classes

We are just finishing up our first course on the Family History Writing Studio, Family History Blog Writing. I’ve been very impressed with our first group of students who have been eager to improve and create stories for their family history blogs. Watch for more classes beginning in January, with sign-ups starting in November.

We now have our first webinar available. The Getting Ready to Write Webinar is the perfect accompaniment to the workbook.

The Getting Ready to Write Webinar includes

3 videos with over 2 hours of information. I walk you through the book, expanding further on the information. There are also a few bonuses.


·         A look inside my personal family history book
·         A hands-on look at my workflow using, Evernote, Citation Managers and Scrivener to create a productive and efficient workflow.


 Workbook 1, Getting Ready to Write has been doing very well. If you're not familiar with Workbook #1, it is designed to help you organize your research, you and your ancestors.  

Workbook #2 AuthenticAncestors helps you to choose an ancestor as a focus for your family history story. You’ll learn to dig deep to get to know your ancestor on a very intimate level. The more you know, the easier it becomes to write his or her story. Workbook 2 comes with the Authentic Ancestor Profile along with many other great worksheets to help you get personal with your ancestors.

Both of these workbooks are available as ebooks at The Studio, however, if you would prefer a paperback version, you can pick them up from

In Workbook three, Finding the Story, we are going to look at how to flesh out a story in your family history research. We then structure that story so that it will engage your reader and bring them along on a journey. This workbook is filled with great tools and tips to help you outline your stories, providing you with a definite plan when you sit down to write. I am very busy finishing up Workbook #3, for those of you who have pre-ordered, I appreciate your patience. Finding the Story will be arriving in late October.There will also be a webinar following in early 2016.

Family History Writing Challenge

Many of you have been asking me about The Family History Writing Challenge, will it return for its 6th year? The answer: of course it will! If you haven’t participated in the past, you can sign up here. If you have, relax you’re already to go, you’ll automatically receive our world-renown Daily Dose, filled with lessons and inspiration.

 But don’t get too comfortable, start thinking about what project you would like to tackle this year.  I’m in the planning stages now and look forward to seeing you again this year for 28 days of focused family history writing.

Free Webinar

As you can see, we’ve been busy bringing you new tools to help you write those family history stories. If you want to learn more about family history writing, join us in The Family History Writing Studio, there’s a free webinar waiting for you when you join. You can also like us on Facebook.

We've got plenty of more tools heading your way and if there is something specific you would like to see in The Family History Writing Studio, leave a comment below or email us at with your suggestions.

MyCanvas Launches Guest Blogger Series

A few years ago, I wrote my first family history book.  It was an incredible learning experience. Creating a family history book can be a massive undertaking, a great deal of work and there can be a lot to learn along the way.  

Choosing the right software program to format and print your book can be a little overwhelming given there is so much to choose from on the market today. I used the software program MyCanvas by Alexander’s to produce my book. Even though I created my book a few years ago and there is always something new on the market, to this day I stand behind MyCanvas as one of the leading book publishing options for family historians.

Today, on their blog, I share my experience in creating my book with the MyCanvas product, a few of those important lessons I learned, and a glimpse inside my family history book. I hope you enjoy We Built More Than a Book, today on the MyCanvas blog. 

Please take a few minutes to stop by as they launch their guest blogger series. Come see inside the family history books of some of your favourite bloggers.

I hope you’ll join me today on MyCanvas, and while you're there make sure you check out some of the other educational articles on their blog. 

JK Rowling featured on Who Do You Think You Are?

JK Rowling goes on a journey in France to trace her mother’s roots. She discovers that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising truth. Tracing the trail even further back, Jo learns of her 2x great-grandmother, who had plenty of struggles both as a poor, single mother and a witness to German invasion during wartime, which forced her family to choose sides in a time of turmoil.
Who Do You Think You Are? airs this Sunday, August 2 at 9/8c on TLC.

A Reason to Stay Inside this Summer

Summer is here and that means warm weather, flowers, swimming, picnics all great reasons to get outdoors and enjoy. But come Sunday nights, consider coming back inside for another season of Who Do You Think You Are?

Just when you think there is nothing on television worth watching, leave it to TLC to swoop in and bring us a summer season of Who Do You Think You Are? to make our summer complete. 

This season celebrities include Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Alfre Woodard and the icing on the cake, the U.S Premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode of the popular series.

First up this Sunday is actress Ginnifer Goodwin. Ginnifer acts in the ABC drama, Once Upon a Time and her family history is full of secrets and mystery.  Ginnifer knows nothing about her paternal grandfather’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. She goes on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and is shocked to discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.

Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c.

So get out there and enjoy the nice weather, but I'll see you back inside on Sunday nights for the summer season of Who Do You Think You Are?