Sunday, April 22, 2007

READERS FEEDBACK: Downsizing and junk of papers

READER'S FEEDBACK: Downsizing and junk of papers

DearREADERS,

As Ol' Myrt reviews email responses for ideas on the topic of what to do with your accumulated genealogy "stuff" before you pass away, the term PLETHORA comes to mind.

From Dictionary.com:
pleth·o·ra
Pronunciation [pleth-er-uh
–noun 1. overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.

Plethora applies to our accumulation of stuff, as well as to the number and variety of my DearREADERS' responses. Here is a smattering (smat·ter·ing Pronunciation[smat-er-ing] –noun 1. a slight, superficial, or introductory knowledge of something: a smattering of Latin. IBID.)

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WILLING DAUGHTER
From: utdoody@kanab.net
If I was at the point where I had to figure out what to do with all the info I had gathered on my family history and my husband's I would first send a note to all living people related, regardless of how distant, to see if they wanted the info on at least their line. Then I would contact the city that the first immigrant went to to see if they wanted the information on that line and lastly I would will it to the local genealogy society and let them worry with it.
Fortunately, I don't have to worry about it as my daughter wants everything I have and then some.

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WILLING SON
From:
mailto:sandy5439@verizon.net
DearMYRTLE,
I have "a lot" of old deeds, newspaper clippings etc. I am giving them to the Perry Historians from Perry Co. PA. That is where they were originally from. I have one son who is interested in genealogy and he will get my family records. My information that I received from online, I am organizing that in a notebook for his information. After he is done with it, I have asked him to also donate it also to the Perry Historians, as he has no children to pass it on to. I still have a lot of organization to do, which I hope to get accomplished within a short time as we do not know how long our time will be and I want to be prepared as to my genealogy information. I have an still am having a great time researching all my families. Thank you for all your information, I appreciate all the time you put into the newsletter. Thanks again. Sandy Nesbitt Reeder.

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NO WILLING KIDS
From:
robert.p.lofquist@snet.net
DearMYRTLE,
Myrt, Love your articles, keep up the wonderful work..

As far as my down sizing, I don't know if any of my kids have the interest in continuing my work of finding and keeping track of all (Yes all ) of the "LOFQUIST's" in the world. Currently about 4000. (Dead and Alive). I have already started scanning the 20 plus two inch binders and storing them on Zip Disks. If something happens to me (I'm 73) the family has instructions to give it all to the Connecticut Genealogy Society. They have a program for storing items like this. My source materials (from web sites) are already digitized.

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ITS NOT JUNK
From: Deanapiary@wmconnect.com
DearMYRTLE,
This kind of thinking saddens me. Will anyone want to continue my tree or will it just be thrown away with the trash? I don't look at it as junk papers. Who will take care of the family cemetery? When I found it in the 1970s it was so over grown you couldn't tell it was a cemetery. Guess it will fall into decay.

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SPACE AT A PREMIUM
From: Patricia

DearMYRTLE,
Since we have always lived in a very small house, and one which has a very wet basement, we have not been able to store "papers" safely. [For over] thirty-five years of genealogical research I have stored nearly no papers at all, only data which I put into our computer database program. Now that I have acknowledged the pain of no physical papers to back up the facts on my computer, I have started digitally photographing sources and inserting them into our computer database. The few papers that we have acquired, we have also scanned and added to the computer. It is not ideal, of course, because you can't really touch the originals, but the information is there viewable in its original. It works for us. We have just come into a trunkful of my family's diaries, photographs, letters, etc. Once the laborious process of scanning them in completed, I will offer the originals to family members who have more room in their homes, then donate the leftovers to the local historical society.

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SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX
From:
passionforquilting@yahoo.com
DearMYRTLE,
I feel silly responding to give advice on paper management, since it isn't something I am good at, but I do have some ideas about genealogical papers, although I haven't implemented all of them. I would like to have my genealogical files in a state that is always ready for my death. This means I make sure that my computer genealogy program has all the information that I have about the family. I add all the information to my file as soon as I get home, in full transcription form, so the file is always as up to date as possible. That also means that filing should be done promptly and neatly. Keeping organized everyday is surely easier than a big organizing project once in a while.

All original documents should be kept in a special folder, probably in a safety deposit box, that specifically says "Do Not Throw Away". This would include interview tapes and transcriptions, and anything else that isn't available somewhere else. These can be sent to a genealogy or historical society if my heirs don't want them.

The rest of the documents, technically can be thrown away by my heirs, because they are photocopies of records that I found somewhere else, and other people can find these records themselves, from the same place I found them, based on my citations. I would prefer, however, that they not be thrown away. I think the best use of these copies is to send them to somebody else who is researching the family line, to help them further their research. I think that if these were properly filed in family folders, the front of the each folder can have a list of names and address of other people who are researching the family. The files can be sent to one of these individuals when I die.

There are things that can be thrown away, and should regularly be thrown away by me:


-- Once my handwritten notes have been inputted on a program and verified for accuracy, with the proper source citation to wherever I got the information, the handwritten notes can be thrown away. There are times when I just hand write the information rather than photocopying it because the information is too sparse to bother getting up to photocopy it. City directories come to mind.

-- Old printouts of the family history can be thrown away, provided that all handwritten notes on it have been put into the program, and the program has been sufficiently backed up. I do like to printout my family file once in a while and have it copied and bound, both as a backup for the computer program, and to provide a tangible family history for my heirs. This also helps me look over the information in print, and find formatting problems, and errors in the file. This also preserves photocopies of documents that are especially interesting or relevant to the family history, such as fancy marriage certificates, or plot maps.

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KEEP ORIGINALS & DIGITIZE THE REST
From:
tcurtisgen@gmail.com
DearMYRTLE,
Great Question! I would think that if the material is original source, keep it at all costs. If it is secondary, digitize it.

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GIFT LOCAL LIBRARY & DISCARD DUPLICATES
From:
rudd.c@sbcglobal.net
DearMYRTLE,
Regarding "downsizing" one's genealogical research - I have about reached that stage in my life, after I complete my memoir to hand down to my children and grandchildren. Presently I am blessed with 3 great grandchildren, ages 5, 4, and 1 month. Maybe my immediate family will have enough information to satisfy their curiosity about their ancestry, however, someone in the future may be interested in learning about their heritage, and my research may be of help. I have traced several lineages back to 1600s and have been of help to several researchers in the past. I will discard any duplications of my accumulation, and then donate the research and documents or documentation to Newberry Library, since I live in the Chicago area.If not Newberry, there are several libraries with genealogical departments - LDS is an excellent resource.

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DONATE BOOKS TO ANCESTORS' LOCALITIES
From: Jo Ann & Bill
DearMYRTLE,
I don't know what some can do about old family tree that no one wants, but I plan to do several books and donate them to several family history libraries, especially in the regions where most of my ancestors resided. Hopefully some niece or nephew down the line will find them.

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ASK LOCAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
From:
caseycatnip@gmail.com
DearMYRTLE,

Most towns have genealogy sections in their libraries. If you donate to a library, it's a good idea to have the papers organized in some way. They'll get put on the shelf - or wherever - faster that way. Historical societies are also interested in papers that reveal something about life in the past. The obvious thing is to ask the closest genealogical society what they suggest you do with your papers. Whatever you decide to do, you need to put it in writing, in your will, or someplace that those taking care of your things after your death will find your instructions. Otherwise, they'll probably be thrown out.

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ORGANIZE IN NOTEBOOKS
From: Ann Carrington
DearMYRTLE,
My recommendation is to keep information as organized as possible but to cut back to the basics by keeping only primary documents and summaries. Submit the summaries to any interested family members and submit them to the FHL if at all suitable. Try to find somebody who might keep the basic documents until an interested party turns up who wants to continue with this. Perhaps, keep info in notebooks that might be easier to store but certainly don't think anybody will keep it in the form it now presents itself because nobody would consider that they have room to keep it unless they plan to use it right away!

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SCAN TO DVD
From:
Bulls0729@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
I haven't given this a great deal of thought - not as much as I should! - but the first thing I think of is this: Is there any way that documents, papers, notes, pictures, etc., can be scanned in and saved to DVD? That way no matter what is decided as far as where the papers will go, the information could be saved in a much smaller amount of space as well as shared. Of course, there is the challenge that as technology changes, it would need to be saved and updated to new formats. I will say it would be very difficult if not impossible for me to downsize my "junk of papers!"

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DOCUMENT RETREIVAL SPECIALIST
From:
kaitysmom@peoplestel.net
DearMYRTLE,
Hello, my first reaction to this query is, Don't Throw Anything Away!!

- Categorize the papers by location, surnames, etc.

- Donate the papers that are in the Location Stack to the locations library, archives, historical society, genealogy society

- Donate the Surname papers to the proper library, archives, historical society, genealogy society (By "proper" I mean the place where the ancestors lived their lives or had their roots) Most libraries or archives have veridical files for family names and will gladly accept these type of materials.

Those are my suggestions.
Melissa Barker
Genealogy Document Retrieval and Researcher for Tennessee

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SOCIETY PRESIDENT'S POINT OF VIEW
From:
bhalseth@twmi.rr.com
DearMYRTLE,
I have a number of suggestions. If and when I would have to downsize I wouldn't want to lose the ability to have with me what I have worked so hard for.

I am starting to scan every document I have - this lets me have the ability to see & send this document to whom every might want it in the future, as well as helps with organization. Burning all these scans onto DVD takes up alot less room, they also serve as backup incase of disasters. You could also make copies of these DVD to ask someone else to hold on to. If one is not able to do this on there own there are service companies that will do this for you.

One could then place the documents with:

1. A Document storage facility
There are many document store facilities across the county and they are a much less expensive alternative to a storage unit. Document storage facilities are what many offices & doctors use to store their documents. Storing here also makes a way for you to get a document when needed in the future, they are climate controlled and have fire protection as well.
-
2. Have microfilmed
Loan the materials to the FHL in Salt Lake City and have the items mirco-film so that others can gleam from your research. They may also accept them as a donation but before giving the items to them, I would first want to have them mirco-film the records and then consider
donating them to another location to further spread the access to the records in the future.

3. Donate the materials to:
a. Local Historical Society
b. Local Genealogical Society
c. State Historical Library or a Genealogical Library
- The New England Historical Genealogical Society is usually very willing to take a donation of family records.
- The Daughters of the American Revolution is very willing to take donations of family records, this can be done in a number of ways some directly through Washington and some through local DAR chapters.

As President of Western Wayne County Genealogical Society we work on projects such as this. I am also Regent of the John Sackett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Michigan and we also work on projects such as this. I would be happy to answer any questions in regards to this and also to help this lady further in making sure that her work is preserved for future generations.

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ARE PAPER COPIES OF FGS & PEDIGREES NECESSARY?
From:
dswrigh@aol.com
DearMYRTLE,
I don't have the answer but this is a problem I have thought about ALOT. When I first started to clean out my stuff, I discovered that alot of what I had was copies of family group sheets and pedigree charts. Of course they were mostly out dated because I had updated info in the computer but not on all the paper copies. I threw all the paper copies away!! It was refreshing. Then I realized I had alot of paper backups of documents, that I should have scanned and documented on the FGS. So I did that. Now I am scanning everything, such as orginal documents, papers that I got info from. I haven't completed my project so I hope that I am doing everything right. In my dreams I will move to a beachside condo, so I must purge. But I can't get rid of thirty years of work. However, 30 years ago it was alot different, now we have computers. I think I will put everything on disc, on the internet, and maybe a book and donate it around the country. Then it won't be lost forever.


I am very anxious to see what other readers will have.

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OLD BLANKET CHEST
From: Kathleen
pbwkhb@sbcglobal.net
DearMYRTLE,
I don't have years of collection but what I have started is to restore an old blanket chest (not cedar, the oil ruins paper) so that it is a nice piece of furniture (on rollers). It will also be easy to place in a room. The things to go in it are old papers, photos, mementos and main family records that will be on archival paper. Whoever wants the blanket chest must also take the geneological material and keep it in the chest. I am 100% sure my children will honor this and hopefully will pass it on to the grandchildren in the same way. In the small town I grew up in the old church has been turned into a museum. Some may go there. The problem is small budgets for the care and upkeep of archival material. This should be a good discussion. I look forward to hearing what others are doing. Probably some company will come up with an expensive answer!!!!!

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NGS BIBLE PROJECT
From another list, the Association of Professional Genealogists - On Behalf Of Shirley Wilcox
Donation for NGS
I administer the Bible project at National Genealogical Society
www.ngsgenealogy.org and have contacted Laura and the gentleman with the question. You are correct, NGS does not have storage area for actual bibles. What we solicit are photocopies of the title page and the family record pages. Transcripts or indexes are also helpful. Sometimes people familiar with the names in the bible can read the handwriting with ease, whereas we might struggle to interpret the names correctly. If others on this list would like to submit bible records, NGS would be happy to receive them, either through the mail, or as scans. We put them up on the web as pdf files. In addition to scans of the pages, we make an index that is posted on the first page and it is entered into the master search engine. If the bible is in a foreign language, translations are helpful. Right now we have a number of bibles in German that need translating. If there is someone on this list that could help us with a few of these, please contact me. The whole project is strictly a volunteer effort and it preserves records and makes them available.

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ARLENE EAKLE
From: Renee Zamora
zamora05@hotmail.com
DearMYRTLE,
Arlene Eakle will take the pile of junk. I wrote about her Genealogy Library Center, Inc. on Renee's Genealogy Blog" title "Who wants Grandpa's Papers". It's the second article that day.
http://rzamor1.livejournal.com/2006/03/19

NOTE: Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D. is the president and founder of The Genealogical Institute, Inc. and has been a practising professional genealogist since 1962. See:
http://arleneeakle.com/pages/bio.shtml

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AS EASY AS 1-2-3
From:
mvandyke@comcast.net
DearMYRTLE,
My method of determing the keeper of my "junk" after I pass, will probably be:

1. First ask ALL family members. I've found distant cousins interested more in my research that current family members. We must realize that the time to determine our bequest is now, not during the crisis of cleaning out a home after a death or move to a retirement home. We must also realize that some people may be shy and hesitant to "ask" for anything...especially "things" that may mean a lot to us. We/you must initiate the conversation.

2. Next, check with my current research buddies. Most I've corresponded with for a number of years and find them legitimate.

3. I'd check with my local genealogy society then library.

Can't wait to read the responses from other readers.

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So, DearREADERS, to this Ol' Myrt could only add, be sure to make a specific bequest in your will to cover the mailing charges for placing your important genealogy papers with the preferred authorities. Our local Family History Center sat on a compiled genealogy book for several months, quite simply because there was no budget for snail-mailing the book to Salt Lake's Family History Library.

OK, one more thing. When you do donate something to any library or archive, provide a clearly written cover letter with permission to microfilm, scan, and present on the internet any information on deceased individuals. There is a specific form for the Family History Library, but a carefully worded cover letter should suffice.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com
www.DearMYRTLE.com

(c) 2007 All Rights Reserved.

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