Preparing a family history book for publication.

Today, is the first chance I have had to sit down for at least four hours and work on a few things I need to do in regards to furthering my family history book. I have just finished work and the little one is still at Day Care and so here I am writing on my blog, catching up with posts from bloggers I follow and preparing a few letters for archive centers.

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently writing a biography/book in regards to my Great Grand Uncle ‘John George Woods’ who fell during the second Battle of Ypres, on the 26th April 1915. It’s not going to be a huge in depth book about the Battle or World War One, but simply key moments in his life leading up to that fateful day and a little about the days that followed. I also have a keen interest in his comrades who fell on the same day as him, so I have compiled a list for these and preparing a mini biography for each of them. These were his friends, he ate with these people, trained with these people, slept in the same barracks, shared jokes and tears, so for me they are just as important to his story as his own personal experience was. Their names appear alongside his on panel 36 – 38 at Menin Gate, Ypres.

John’s name also appears on his town’s WW1 Memorial, ‘Leadgate Cross’, and I a plan to list these names too as many lived in the same street, but I won’t be including a biography for these people, only regiment details, day of death, brief family details if known, These men are much harder to research, because I only have a name and many were born else where and belong to many different regiments and surprisingly I have discovered that many Leadgate men were not included on this memorial, often this is due to family wishing not to have his name included, or they appear else where, these men will also be remembered in my book.

I am still busy writing his story and at the same time sourcing material from various archive centers, In doing so I have learnt much more about his life then I previously knew. I have a personal diary written by one of his comrades about their experience, of which includes all the important dates and places and the actual bombardment that occurred on the 26th April, scary stuff really especially as the 26th April was sadly his first day of conflict.

Sourcing material to use in the book is my biggest challenge, here in England anything before 1923 is out of copyright, photographs etc… Although if your borrowing images (as I will be) from various record centers, then they own the intellectual rights for these and I need their permission before I reproduce the material. They do charge a fee £26 an image, if it will be used for non-profit publishing and I still don’t know how much they charge if I decide to publish the book for profit and reach a larger audience.

I may decide to produce two editions, the first will be non-profit and solely for family and archive centers, library’s and future archiving, the second (If I decide to publish for profit) will be produced as an e-book.

I have also bought images that pre-date 1923 and associated directly with the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and the Battle of Ypres, these as far as I can tell are not held in any record centers and have not been previously published, so I guess I own the intellectual rights to these as I do my own personal family photographs that date from this period.

Still lots to do, and slowly getting there.


9 thoughts on “Preparing a family history book for publication.

  1. If the work is before 1923 and not protected by copyright, I would think no one owns the rights at all, but I guess it’s a question of getting access to them. They can then by contract charge you for that access. I taught US copyright law, but I don’t know anything about English copyright law, though I assume there are lots of similarities.

    Good luck!

    • Hi Amy, your right anything before 1923 (with exception) is generally regarded as public domain. If it’s held in an archive, I just need their permission and they will charge a fee.
      If I’m using an excerpt from an old document, I may need to investigate as to whether it has already been published, as any transcription already made is the new authors intellectual copyright.
      Lots of things to think about, but will get there eventually.

    • Thankyou, I have a long way to go, but getting there.
      Just waiting on permission to publish material, will feel much happier when I get the letter/e-mail 🙂

  2. I am trying to learn the laws here in the U.S. regarding copyright laws. Most of the pictures I will use are mine, but it is quotes from books that I am looking up I have questions about.. I am a little jealous that you got four whole hours to work with. 🙂

    • I think if the quotes belong to books older then 1923, (with exception to those re-published) you shouldn’t have any problems.
      I am hoping to use an excerpt from a diary, but I need to investigate as to whether it has been published yet. If it has I need permission from the author who has recently published that material. (even though they didn’t originally write it).
      I have published transcribed documents on my blog, and these are my intellectual copyright.
      So transcribing your documents is a good idea, not that I would ever have a problem with anyone using it (history belongs to everyone) but crediting my name, I would certainly appreciate as the time you put in to research and transcribing is very time consuming.

  3. Hi, that’s a really interesting post. I’m quite shocked to hear that someone who transcribes an old document then is in the position to grant permissions! What if you can prove you also transcribed it from the original?
    Getting suitable image(s) for illustrating a not-for-profit blog post is always a bit daunting.

    • There is a lot I don’t know about copyright, but from what I have seen on transcribed documents, they nearly always copyright their work. I have seen this with archivist’s at the National Archives.
      It’s a very grey area though, but imagine if someone spent a year transcribing a diary, then publish their work, only to find that someone has copy and pasted their publication and published it as theirs. That would be an infringement of someone’s intellectual copyright. But at the sometime these are historical documents and should be available to use and publish by all.
      I always add a copyright on things I transcribe, especially if the work is time consuming, but at the same time I am happy for others use it, as long as they clearly credit the person who transcribed it.
      But if your not sure and plan to publish something in print always check with someone legally first. I plan to do this myself just to be on the safe side.

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