Saturday, March 24, 2012
So Little Time - Passing On Your Research
Two weeks ago my husband’s cousin, Kay, passed away. Kay had been diligently researching her mother’s side of the family for several years and had accumulated lots of wonderful information. Unfortunately, no other family members from that side are currently interested in continuing her work. It is believed in the future a nephew or niece may take up the research but, for now, we can only try to retain important data for later use, perhaps much later.
To that end, as the family historian on the Dad’s side of the family, I was called in to determine what to keep and what not to keep. What an ominous project and I only had one morning, this morning, in which to do it! Fortunately, Kay was wonderfully organized, making decisions much easier than they might have been.
Kay maintained binders - there must have been forty of them - containing descendant’s charts, family group sheets and important documents, as well as separate binders for census records and such. These I suggested should be retained for future reference. Being familiar with Kay’s ability to research and document, I feel secure the most important information for a future genealogist will be found in those binders. Because storage space will be limited, I was far more discriminating with the various folders contained in the filing cabinet.
Now, for the real point of this blog! I backed-up Kay’s Family Tree Maker File to an external device and gave both the file and the software version she was using and the manual for that version to the family. However, technology being what it is that file and the software will be obsolete before we know it. I can guarantee nothing will be updated after today.
Now, I love technology but I am convinced we still need to get our genealogy on paper. I came to that conclusion a couple of years ago when I decided to start creating family history books to be sent to family members and libraries. Whether it’s in book form or printed out and organized in binders or family folders, please, make sure your work is in print form. If you’re still researching, be sure to keep your print records updated as well as your computer files.
I’m wearing a shirt that says, “So many ancestors; so little time.” The truth of that statement was made very clear to me today. We have no way of knowing how long we have on this earth. To have any hope of our work carrying forth to the next generation of genealogists, we need to put it into a stable form. The most stable form, even today, is print.
Yes, I am posting this on my blog and will mention it on Twitter and Facebook but, if I really want my g-g-grandchild to read this, I will print it, put it in an archival safe sheet protector, and put it in a binder marked DO NOT DESTROY – FOR THE NEXT FAMILY HISTORIAN!! There’s no guarantee that will work either, but at least I will have given it my best shot.