Securing our Research Data
Securing our genealogical research is absolutely paramount for the generations who come after us. I started my research back in 1980 so when this "Do-Over" began I kept only the necessary documents and set aside what was left. Now I need to decide how I want to preserve all of that hard work and decide how I want to "future proof" that work.
What Can I do to Preserve my Genealogical Research?
I am doing a couple of things. I took advantage of the great deal that Thomas was able to get for this group right at the beginning with I-drive, an online storage company. I have been backing up my research, uploading documents, photos, letters, and scanning my research notebooks, pedigree and family group sheets so that it may one day help the next genealogist in my family. I also have a few flash drives and I am researching external hard drives to purchase at a later date.
Future Proofing my Genealogical Research
If I were to lose all of my genealogy research today, I would most likely be able to recreate most of the families in my research. I would begin with our grandson and go backwards from there. Because my master file is on Ancestry.com not many of my notes, if any are of them, are on my tree with Ancestry, my sources need to be redone (I have chosen to start new trees) and I certainly don't have all of my photos and documents uploaded to Ancestry. I will do all of this as I rebuild my new trees and is an ongoing project that feels like it will never end.
If I were to die today, the only person who might want my research would be my niece, Kaitlyn. She is the only one who has shown any interest in genealogy but I still have another niece and several nephews who are still young and may show interest as they get older. If Kaitlyn did not want my research than I have no doubt that it would be boxed up and set aside or thrown out.
Backing Up Your Genealogy Data
- Creating a Back Up Plan - Right now my back up plan is probably short sighted because I am not seeing "the big picture" but for right now it does work.
- My I-Drive account is automatically backed up every day.
- I have started saving all of my blog pieces (with sources) to my Evernote account as well as working research notes My Evernote account does an automatic synch every couple of hours on my computer
- All of my photos from my cell phone and tablet are automatically stored to my Drop Box account on daily basis and once a month I back up these to the micro discs in both devices.
- On the 30th of each month I delete any previous gedcom's and create a new gedcom file of my master file in Family Tree Maker.
- Work on creating a hard copy and flash drive with ALL of research that I can give to certain people in case of an emergency.
- Identify Data for Back Up & Identify a Back Up Plan That Works for Me - I am not sure that I have actually identified what my must haves for back up are but here is what I have been backing up:
- I-Drive - my entire computer hard drive
- Evernote - blog posts, sources, documents, all research notes and emails
- Drop Box - photos, files, emails and documents
- Hard copies - notebooks, printouts, pedigrees and family group sheets
- Question 1 - scan all of my hard copies at the beginning of each family researched?
- Question 2 - scan all of my hard copies at the end of each family researched?
- Test Your Back Up Plan - Done and seems to be working as far as I can tell.
- Future Proof Your Technology - I am technically challenged without question so I will have to rely on those who do through reviews to keep up with newest, latest and greatest ways to do this. Hint! Hint! Thomas!
This is an area that I need to work on and in all honesty not something I ever considered before now. I never realized that my genealogical research should be added to my will until recently when I saw a post on Facebook by a man who was in his 90's. He wanted to know what he should do with all of his research now that no one in his family seemed to care. I believe his questions were should he throw it away? donate it? and was asking what the genea-community for suggestions. There were hundreds of responses and I have been thinking a great deal about it. So this is perfect timing to discuss what I can do.
- Inventory! Inventory! Inventory!
- Original Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Records
- Mass Cards
- Baptismal, Holy Communion and other Church documents
- Actual photos
- Digital photos
- Photo albums/scrapbooks
- Funeral Programs
- Wedding Programs
- Commencement Programs
- Discharge papers
- Pension records
- Awards (medals and ribbons)
- Handwritten Documents
- Write ups on families
- Passenger lists
- Shipping manifests
Next, I will add a codicil to my will detailing what should happen to my research should no one in my family have a desire to keep it for themselves or if none of my cousins should want the research I have done on our common branch as well as their mother or father's line. That would leave contacting local (pertaining to the area of a particular county or state), historical societies, libraries and/or archives to see if they would be interested.
I am already head of the game in that I have started a blog to post my research and my adventures in the world of genealogy. However I have been considering possibly using a domain such as www.tribalpages.com as a central location to put my research online. The other possibility would be to build a website for genealogy however, that is not something I know enough about to consider at this time. Another task on my to do list for the future.
I am going to make a conscious effort to put more of my life story down in some format such as a journal or diary but as yet the format is undetermined at this point. I have decided that I will begin making small family books using my blog posts but I have not decided anything further than this. I would eventually like to write a genealogy book detailing my maternal/paternal lines and one for my children that would include their paternal lines as well. These are projects that are for now on my ideas and/or future projects list.
I as I have often said in the last three months, I have taught myself the genealogy research basics and I have never been afraid to ask questions, that being said I have learned so much more than I thought possible and I realize that genealogy is so important for the generations that will come after me. So, for the current generations and the ones far into the future I owe it to them and myself to be sure that my genealogy research is on a solid foundation, one that can be built upon and one to be proud of too.
Bad habits are hard to break! However, I am learning from those bad habits. I am shoring up my research foundation with all the new techniques I have learned during this journey. I will cite my sources properly, thank you to Elizabeth Shown Mills who has helped our group by commenting with her wisdom, feedback and suggestions. I may not have realized I needed to know that piece of information then but realized that yes in fact I did. Thank you to all of the wonderful professionals who gave their feedback and encouragement to this project.
I love the environment that our fearless leader and Genealogy Ninja, Thomas MacEntee has given us to ask questions, admit our mistakes and allow us collaborate in a forum that gives us the freedom to exchange and share our ideas about genealogy. I have formed a network that I might not otherwise have discovered on my own. I am honored to be part of this amazing network of people known as genealogist's!
I have come to realize that genealogy is a continual journey, it never ends and I can go to visit anytime I like. Genealogy allows me to go back in time and get to know who my ancestors were, by the records that they kept such as diaries and ledgers, census records, vital records, court records and newspapers accounts. Where else can I go and visit the 18th & 19th centuries and never leave home? Genealogy allows me to to honor my ancestors and gives me the privilege of telling their stories which I can only hope would make them proud to have me as their descendant.
Thank you, Thomas MacEntee for coming up with such a wonderful project! However, I have to ask is there a part two? Or should I ask what is next? I am sad to see this journey end as I can hardly believe that three months has passed us by but I look forward to the next one no matter where it should lead me!
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