• Linda Tedford

Lilja helps a prolific author capture her father’s rich family history



One of Lilja’s beloved LifeStories clients, Mary Nelson Keithahn, invited us to help her with yet another project in 2017. We had already worked with her to publish and promote “Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier” and “Embracing the Light: Reflections on God’s Word” in 2016. As we worked on those books, however, we also knew Mary had another project waiting in the wings. Armed with two typewritten pages tracing her grandfather’s lineage back to Sweden, Mary had researched, gathered images, visited distant relatives and written volumes on her father’s family history going back generations — and she sought our help to produce these family history books.


The project was daunting because Mary had discovered rich stories and information about her father’s ancestors, in addition to plenty of history on his ancestors’ siblings. We worked with Mary to create a framework for her father’s direct line and collateral stories that would make sense to her family, both in the U.S. and Sweden. The result was a beautiful six-book series titled, “We Came From Sweden.” The first two books shared the stories of Mary’s great-grandparents and their ancestors, and her grandparents and their descendants. The remaining four books shared the stories of her ancestors’ many siblings and their descendants.


We also worked closely with Mary to create a design for the series that honored the family’s Swedish roots. Lilja created a cover that takes readers back in time, using the colors of Sweden’s flag and a photo of a Swedish country road. Two years after we started the project, Mary shared the series with her family near and far — and they’re all grateful for the beautiful family history collection that will grace their bookshelves for generations to come.


Mary celebrated her 85th birthday in 2019, but she’s not done working with Lilja. She is now busy collecting recipes from her “We Came From Sweden” family to publish as a companion piece to the series. Then she’ll move on to capturing her mother’s family history!


Even if you’re not a prolific author and genealogist like Mary, Lilja can help you share your family’s history — and they’ll thank you for it.

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