Genealogy Gems Newsletter on January 30 by Dawne Slater, CG
We hear the question from our genealogy friends, at local society meetings, and see it in threads on Facebook special interest groups for genealogy – “What can be done with my genealogy files to preserve them if I have no descendants or my family isn’t interested in my work?” No one wants to think of his or her lifetime’s gathering of family information, expensive documents, hard-to-find and hard-to-prove connections thrown in a dumpster.
When those of us who work at The Genealogy Center read this or a similar question in a Facebook group, or hear someone ask it, we are quick to say, “We’ll take it at The Genealogy Center!” And that’s true. The Genealogy Center accepts family papers, documents, photos and files, and there are many things that can be done with these materials to preserve them. Small collections might be scanned and uploaded onto The Genealogy Center’s website in the Family Resources, Family Bibles or Our Military Heritage areas, as appropriate. Larger collections might be bound as-is, or preservation photocopied and bound.
But The Genealogy Center isn’t the only facility that accepts family papers and there might be a more appropriate place for your files. Check with the local public library, historical society, genealogical society and/or county archives in the area where the research is centered, for example. Just be sure that the facility you choose DOES accept this kind of material before you send it or drop it off. Not all do. It’s no good to save your hard work from being trashed by your relatives only to have an institution do it instead!
If you decide to give your material to The Genealogy Center, the more organized it is, the better. Organized files are easier to prepare and catalog, and the material will be available for use by the public much more quickly if it is easy to process. You might consider a title page, a table of contents, an index, pages that are uniform in size, dividers by family, geographic area, or record type, or other ways of organizing the material. Also, you could type a page of explanation telling what families, geographic areas and time periods the material covers, as well as a description of its organization.
If you have written a family history, The Genealogy Center would be glad to accept a copy of the bound book, a set of loose manuscript pages (please be sure there is an edge of an inch for binding), or a digital file.
Consider donating your family files to The Genealogy Center or another library or institution to preserve them for future researchers!