An Obscure Family, The Buffetts in America
In 1983 Doris Buffett, Warren’s sister, launched her “Buffett Family Project” to trace her lineage as far back as she could go. Like an old-fashioned gumshoe, she made countless calls, combed archives, and traveled thousands of miles to track down her Buffetts from the New World to the Old and beyond.
Our job was to transform Doris’s database, files, and boxes into an inviting read—a far cry from typical genealogy books with dark covers and gold lettering. Doris wanted to teach her readers how genealogists go about their never-ending research, to share more about her ancestors than their names and dates, and to tell stories of her “adventures in genealogy.”
Julia began by pruning the Buffett family tree—recorded in an old database and stuffed binder —to essential facts. She combed through Doris’s notes for inspiration, creating a sampler of important moments, family tales, and miscellany. She wrote profiles of noteworthy Buffetts for every generation: a weaver, pickle farmer, landmark grocery store founder, global financier, and “The Sunshine Lady” (a.k.a. Doris).
Rick established order in the organic sprawl of genealogy, guiding readers on their march across generations. He dramatized family names, mapped connections, illuminated key moments in the chronology, and turned an untidy genealogy reality into a design virtue by emphasizing the transitory nature of paper records and old photos, which Susan painstakingly made the most of on press. Susan chose warm paper that is substantial to the touch, just right for a book intended to be Doris’s lasting gift to Buffetts present and future.