Other Services

Timeline Journals

Mom (Grandma), were you alive when…?

Dad (Grandpa), what were you doing when…?

How many times have your children or grandchildren asked you these questions?  Isn’t it interesting how young people’s sense of history is usually based on how it may have impacted someone they love because they believe that you must have been around forever?  How many times has the answer to them been, “Just how old do you think I am” when the event happened well before your time.  Such conversations make for fascinating dinner conversation but what if you could capture a record of the things that really happened in your lifetime to pass on to your future generations?

Family Tree Videos values the preservation of that history.  Through our timelines, we will capture your critical life events such as graduation, marriage and the birth of your children, and overlay the important world events that shaped your reality and influenced your world view so that future generations can understand your life or the life of your loved one.  We will use your memories that you share during the interviews and add meaningful additions like genealogical records, pictures and documentation of historical events.  Through this timeline, future generations will know your world through you.

  • Milestones Throughout My Life
  • Combined With – Where Was I When? – Snippets on Major Global or National News Days
  • Available printed, web or in-Video

Genealogy Research

There is something incredibly powerful in seeing a loved one recorded as part of history and to understand what the times they lived in were like.  

Through our services, we will work with you to research your family tree in order to find the ancestral records that track your family backwards in time using records like the census, draft registration records and other records that may be available.

These records of your ancestral heritage can be packaged in a bound keepsake that can also incorporate the memoir writings and timeline journals listed below.

Results may be ordered in a Hard or Soft Bound Booklet and optionally added into your video with graphics and voice-over narration. Ancestry.com posting is an optional service.

Please note, Genealogy Research is not a perfect science. Quite often the pathways to finding amazing records are wide open and pass through many previous generations. On the other hand, there are times when brick walls occur creating a roadblock that prevents the research from moving further back on a particular person’s ancestral line.   This may, in fact, impact more than on familial line.

To protect our client’s investment, Family Tree Videos does not sell blocks of research hours until we are reasonably confident that some information can be gleaned from the process.

Our Discovery Plan does just that. The Discovery Plan is a preliminary assessment and development tool through which we shape a detailed research plan for future research. The Discovery Plan research will use the information that you share on your ancestors born before 1940 to explore what records are readily accessible such as census, draft, and marriage records and determine how complete these records are.

Once we feel confident that your ancestors are searchable in at least recent records, we will recommend an initial block of time that we are confident will result in a profile of your ancestral tree using electronic resources with an effort to complete two to three generations of information on one or two lines that will include copies of the records that we discover.  Should you wish to expand the search, additional time may be added in blocks of 10 hours.

Digital results only. Project completed in 2-3 weeks.

Legacy Letter Writing

Another mechanism for honoring family elders is to engage them in writing a letter or letters to family members which according to Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Healthy Aging, is “an exercise that makes you take stock of your life experience and distill from it the values and wisdom you have gained.”

Legacy Writing, also known as Ethical Wills, is a process of sharing the life lessons, values, memories, love, and words of appreciation that often go unspoken in families. It is a time to reflect on what has been most important in one’s life and express gratitude to those who have nurtured you, taught you, and helped mold you into the person you are today.  It is a way for your family elder to tell their family things they may not know about him/her, what they want them to remember, and express hopes for them for the future. It may also include advice, important decisions and turning points, maybe some regrets, as well as the writer’s dreams for their own future.

Different from a memoir, legacy letters are written to specific family members and focus on what writers have stood for in life, what has held meaning for them, what they have learned, and what words of wisdom, love, and gratitude they wish to pass on.  Legacy Letters are done in a series of one to three one-on-one sessions with a facilitator using a writing guide, writing prompts, and discussion to create a fleshing out of what is most important to share. Editing and organizational assistance is also provided, along with archival pens, paper, and folders. Legacy letters can be in the form of one or several letters, shared at the time of one’s choosing or left behind.

So where do we start?

We will begin with 3 one-hour Skype sessions. These sessions help prepare for the writing of a legacy letter. Our facilitator uses a writing guide, writing prompts, and discussion to create a fleshing out of what is most important to share. At this point, you’ll be able to determine whether you want to write the legacy letter on your own, or hire our team of professionals.

Memoir Writing

The stories you share about those who came before you become family lore—the oral history that anchors your heritage.  However, how often do you or a loved one think that the life that you have lived is not interesting? Do you rarely speak about yourselves?  While some of your more precious moments may become family-shared stories, most get lost in the shadows.  It is these stories, happy and sad, that tell others who you were and how you lived, and more importantly, where they came from.  How often have you wished you had asked that one question of your grandmother or grandfather?  How often have you said that you wished your children could have heard grandma’s story her way.  Capturing the story of you or your loved ones for the next generation now, even when they are not asking, ensures that it will be there for them when they do.  Your memoir that regales them with those stories is the gift that you give to your family that will echo down through the generations.

Whether you choose to focus on your childhood or just your adult years, the most effective memoir is one that preserves the unity of a remembered time and place.

At Family Tree Videos, we know the importance of preserving your story and a memoir is one of the important tools that we use to help you do that.  We also recognize how overwhelming the thought of creating a memoir may be.  It is our job to ensure that it is not.  Our professional writers will help you organize your thoughts and shape the story through the interview process and transform your memories into a record of your life –your personal memoir.  It will be published into a soft bound book that can include photographs, genealogy charts, maps, letters, and other supplementary materials.  

Our services include:

  • professional interviews for commissioned as-told-to memoirs
  • distillation of interviews into narrative memoir form
  • à la carte services for assisted memoirs that you have written
  • manuscript editing and light fact-checking
  • image processing and digital restoration of photographs
  • maps, genealogy charts, translations and other self-publishing services
  • book design and formatting
  • book printing and binding
  • e-books and e-book distribution

The Process

For a commissioned memoir (or as-told-to memoir),  we will interview you after we have outlined together and discussed some of the main events and themes in your life. During the interviews, we will keep you on track, actively listening to you (this is now called “compassionate listening”). We will encourage you to share your stories, observations, and reflections; at the same time, we will respect your feelings, your secrets, and your privacy. The transcripts from our recorded interviews will evolve into the substance of your memoirs. Upon completion of the interview transcript, or if you have already written your memoirs and hired us for an assisted memoir, the remaining steps of the process will be the same: editing, design and formatting, reviews and alterations, printing and binding, and delivery to you.

Here’s a little more detail.

Letter of Agreement:  First, we will discuss your needs, including health and time-frame, and think about whether we want to work with each other; if the answer is yes, we will send you a letter of agreement outlining our mutual expectations and responsibilities. The letter will go back and forth between us for alterations, as desired by you, until accepted and signed.
A commissioned memoir begins with interviews, transcriptions, and editing:  If you want a commissioned (as-told-to memoir), we will interview you in person at a place of your choice. Usually, the interviews are done over two or more two-day sessions for a total of about 18 hours. Then we will transcribe the recordings and edit the transcription for clarity, logic, accuracy, and voice. We will make sure that your personality comes through and the narrative is authentic. Light fact-checking as needed can be part of the process. The text will go back and forth between us for alterations.

An assisted memoir begins with editing:  If you’ve already written your manuscript, we will edit for clarity, logic, accuracy, and voice. The text will go back and forth between us for alterations. If you do not want your manuscript edited or proofread, we will not read it. We will handle all of the details of design, formatting, and print processes.

Image processing, Genealogies, and Maps:  You will provide the images and captions you want in your books. We can touch them up, adjust their color and contrast, and even provide heavier photo editing services, according to your desires. For samples of our work, see image processing. We provide all memoir-related services, such as well-designed genealogy charts, professional translations, and custom maps.

Design and formatting:  You can request a custom design for your book interior, or select from one of our template designs to use as is or with modifications. We will then flow your text into the design of your choice and make adjustments wherever needed. The formatted galley will go back and forth between us for further alterations, and then we will send it to one or more eagle-eyed proofreaders to catch remaining problems.

Print and bind:  We will explain your options for printing and binding. We will explain terminology like digital and offset printing; glued and Smythe-sewn binding; softcover and hardcover materials; interior text materials; dustjackets and ribbons. You will decide what you want and we will make it happen.

When you are ready, we will send the files to the printer and bindery. We will work with them and preview your book to ensure accuracy and quality before they ship the books to you.

Once the books are delivered to you, it will be your time — time for the thrill and satisfaction of re-reading and distributing your own books!

For more details on these and related services, see Services.


We charge fees for processes that are measurable and predictable, such as standard design and formatting (per page), and an hourly fee for processes that depend on you, such as Author Alterations, and as-needed research.

Typically, a book that has received our personal attention costs at least $4,000 to service and $1,000 to print. A set of personal interviews (15 to 20 hours), transcribed, typically costs $8,000 including travel.

A well-written commissioned memoir typically begins at $40,000 to service and $2,000 to print.

We will help you create an authentic, beautiful book that you will be proud to share with your children and grandchildren and all generations to come.

Contact Scott for more information.

Digitization Services

Scanning & Digitizing Center

Our Scanning & Digitizing Center will offer to send you a unique shipping box, along with identification stickers to identify the ownership and secure their return.

Examples of un-digitized media we can convert include old photos and older video formats including VHS, 8mm and Super8mm films. Old photos can sometimes be enhanced while old video mostly remains only as good as the resolution in which it was shot.

Can you embed older videos into the final digital video?

Once digitized, yes, they can become apart of the new video. It is highly recommended, however, that the client give Family Tree Videos a generous “artistic license” to judge how much of the old videos to play. Generally, small snippets can be added while maintaining a high film quality.

Older videos such as VHS, 8mm and Super8mm are not digitized meaning they are not created with bits and bytes (zeros and ones). They are called analog videos. Similar to scanning an old photo, there is a conversion process, but it is time consuming, expensive and the quality remains only as good as when it was taken. They will not be HD or hi-resolution as in today’s video cameras.

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