Hi Tim. If your book was primarily text I'd perhaps suggest making one of our Trade format books, since they're great for text-heavy novels, biographies, and other books with lots of text and limited photos. (They're printed on uncoated paper, are available in 5x8, 6x9 or 8x10 sizes).
If you'd like a larger book, and if you have lots of photos and scanned items you'd like to add, then you may want to consider making a photo book format. Our photo paper books are great for images and text, and you can choose from a variety of coated papers. Our most popular photo book size is our Standard Landscape, which works well for telling stories like this. The Standard Landscape format would work well also. For paper type, I think the Premium Lustre would be a good choice as it's thicker than our standard paper but a little less expensive than our ProLine paper.
In terms of making your book, I'd suggest either BookSmart or BookWright. They're both free downloadable programs that work on Macs and PCs. The main difference is that BookWright offers you the Trade 8x10 size (as well as the other Trade sizes, though BookSmart has those too), and BookWright offers a free ISBN if you want one (but unless you plan to sell this book in a bookstore or on Amazon, you wouldn't need an ISBN).
There are other differences but in your case, BookSmart may be slightly easier to use if you don't need the extra features BookWright offers. You can download both and test them out to see which you prefer.
You can also check out some of the history and biography/memoir titles in our public bookstore for inspiration:
Have fun making your book!