Thursday, 12 March 2015


Why we should all be concerned about preservation?

Yesterday (Tuesday 10th March) there was a fatal road traffic collision on the road that I use everyday to get to and from my place of work. Although, I was not an eyewitness, I saw the immediate aftermath from the other carriageway, whilst on my way to work and was shaken and saddened to think that someone was going to be hearing bad news later that day. 

Experiences such as these can bring home the uncertainties of life.
We all like to believe we will live in to old age but even the youngest of us should be aware that we only have a limited time in which to do things.
Geoff Rasmussen who hosts the Legacy Family Tree Webinars usually finishes with the saying "Life is short, do genealogy first". Would that we could all do this. 
If there is one resolution we should all have made this year it is this, I will endeavour to get my genealogy organized so that anyone can pick up where I left off.
Those who have taken up the challenge of Thomas MacEntee and embarked on the Genealogy Do Over are to be commended as are those who have not been in a position to need to take up the challenge. Many (including me) will have started with good intentions and other commitments have somehow got in the way.
Have we set ourselves unrealistic goals? Maybe
We all need to work at our own pace and the most important thing we can do is to leave something that our families will value rather than a jumbled mass of documents and unlabeled old photographs.

How do I know that what I have will be of use to others?

We have records and photographs that we have inherited (unless we are very unlucky) and those that we have found or created in our lifetime. 
We need to make it clear how these are important to our family and each of us will have our own way of doing this.
Computers and the associated technology can help us in storing and collecting our sources of information but we need to consider how easy it will be for others to access these in the future. 
So keeping up to date or finding ways to future-proof our sources is important however we store the information.
Family history programs can help us pull together the information we have found and display it in a format which shows our connections to our ancestors but they may not be supported indefinitely.
Whilst we may want to become paperless we must all consider how we back up what we have. 
Disasters can occur and we may lose what we have collected if we only have one copy or everything is in one place.

  • Label things clearly
  • Back things up
  • Think about who will need access to your information
What legacy do you want to leave?
How are you going to pass your work on to the future generations?
Who gets your records? 

Can't I just leave my records to the relevant archive?

When Did You Last Visit an Archive ?

Much is made of the reduction of hours or closure of an archive and with a worldwide recession there has been great pressure on public services to reduce the cost of their services. On the back of this the paymasters will be looking at the footfall for these places.

National Archives will usually be safe as they have such large collections of interest to various researchers. However smaller regional or city/town repositories may not appeal to such a wide audience and the staffing costs will be an area where they will see reducing costs as a possibility.

So if you thought you could leave your work to the local archive you may have to think again.
Unless you have something unique which can stand the test of time such as a printed book you may find that much of the results of your hard work will become unusable or inaccessible.

Move with the technology and present your findings to the younger generations in your family. 
Consider how you store those unique items.
Make sure that somebody knows what you want to happen to your research.


  1. Don#'t forget physical artefacts too, such as letters, medals, and original photos. Even jewellery, clothing, furniture, and other heirlooms may be in your possession, and will need consideration regarding preservation.

    (apologies for putting a copy of this comment on the wrong blog-post just now -- it went on Bill's one)

  2. Great reminders, thank you.

  3. Great advice! How I wish my genealogy "leavings" are handled in a codicil to our will. I used to think I had to "finish" a line before I printed off a report or wrote about them and sent that off to a local genealogical society. But I realized genealogy is never done; it's just the best we can do at the time. I now print off my reports and associated blog posts and send them off. Maybe they will help someone else. I am a third-generation genealogist in my family but the next generation hasn't yet identified themselves. That's my next task.

  4. Thanks for all the information. I haven't seen a spark yet in my next generation yet. I have a lot they can go and run with and pick up. We do have a National Committee so every years starting with 2 years ago. I give them a updated file as well on our family research. This way it stays in the hands of the family to continue. We are starting to get creative to get the youth involved. Hopefully I'll see that next generation spark who I can mentor before I pass away. My Aunt Bunny saw it in me.


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World Wide Genealogy Team