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Getting Organised

May 22, 2020

Since being in isolation for Covid-19, I have had much more time than usual available to spend on genealogy. My mind has been turning to getting organised. I’m not sure if it’s the virus making me think of mortality, but lately, I can’t stop wondering about what is going to happen to all my genealogy research, after I’ve passed on. I’m not meaning to sound morbid, and I’m sure this is something that occupies the minds of many genealogists.

I can’t bear the thought of my family having to deal with disposing of three decades of research, after I’ve gone. Other than the inconvenience of them having to do it, I feel stressed at the thought of all that paperwork being tossed into a skip bin, which I am sure would happen. That paperwork that some would think of as rubbish, represents many hours of research and many dollars spent over the years. It also represents the history of my family, which definitely should not just disappear.

There is nobody in my family, who is willing to take over the family history, so I need to ensure that it is organised and that paper documents have been passed on to libraries and societies etc before I leave this earth. I’m not even really sure that societies these days would be interested in taking paper documents, in these days of modern technology. However, I do have a  huge amount of civil registration certificates that have been paid for, so it just doesn’t seem right to throw them away after digistising. I’m not sure if that’s just me being a hoarder. I’m not a hoarder in any other area of my life, bit it stresses me that I can’t just toss this paperwork away.

All of a sudden, this problem seems to be priority one for me. I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to approach it and have read many blogs and website looking for ideas and inspiration. Finally I have come up with a plan that I’m sure will work, but will take some time. However, I’ve started working on it and can see there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. I have no doubt that, given time, I will manage to tick off everything on the plan. But as for the paperwork? I’m still not sure what will happen to it, but hopefully will solve that problem during the process.

One thing that makes me feel a bit relieved, is that this blog is archived in the National Library of Australia. This means that the information posted on the blog is preserved and will be available for anyone who wishes to read it in the future. This isn’t something that needs to be updated to keep it in the archives, so it will survive long after I’ve gone.

If you are a family member, I would love to publish your stories. Please read the note at the bottom of this post.

My Plan

  • Keep blog updated and continue to post as much information, including family stories, as I have available
  • Request fellow family researchers, and also family members, to contribute to the blog in order to preserve their information and stories.
  • Digitise all civil registration certificates and paper documents
  • Pass paper documents over to relevant societies or libraries
  • Check all sources on the family tree to ensure they are all complete and update those that need it,
  • Decide what I should do with my backed up Legacy family tree. I’m a bit baffled by this and really not sure how to solve the problem
  • Digitise photos and decide what to do with them
  • Add photos to Legacy family tree.

So, that is the plan that I’ve come up with so far. I’m sure it will change and be added to, as I go along with the project, but it’s a start and I’m happy with it.

Genealogist Shauna who blogs at Diary of an Australian Genealogist has been blogging about getting her research ready to handover. I’ve enjoyed following her posts on the subject. You might like to check them out.

Fellow genies and geneabloggers, I’d love to hear what you have done to handle this problem of continuity of research and disposal of records. I’d love to hear your tips and hints. Please leave your thoughts below. I promise to reply to all comments.

I am hoping to publish many family stories here on the blog, so if you are a family member and would like to write a story about someone in your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

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From → genealogy

  1. I certainly need to digitise paper certificates that I have acquired. I maintain a public tree on ancestrydotcom and add photos and certificates to that tree and that seems to make it accessible to a great number of cousins, close and distant. The blog is very useful for sharing family history. My blog is also backed up by the National Library on Pandora. In addition I periodically print good copies of the blog in book form – two of them – I have more faith in paper 😉 I have also produced family history books in MyCanvas for the family which seem to work well.

    I don’t have a lot of accumulated family history paper I don’t think – I probably have more than I realise – but my strategy is definitely to digitise and add to my online tree on ancestry. I also contribute to wikitree – not with as much diligence but that does make the research available to a wider audience.

    Good luck with your organisation plan.

    • Jennifer Jones permalink

      Thanks for your comments Anne. I haven’t done anything with Wikitree but now you have reminded me, I’ll get on to it. Like you have been doing, I’m planning to start making books from blog posts. Sounds like you are very organised which does spur me on.

      • Haha – I don’t feel organised but I do feel focussed – I enjoy the research and I am lucky that my family seems to enjoy learning the stories too. I don’t think they would be interested in a mass of documents though. The books are not cheap but I am very pleased to have them – they are tangible even though online is more accessible.

        • Jennifer Jones permalink

          I’m slightly envious Anne. I’ve found nobody in my family yet, who is even slightly interested in family stories. Holding out hope that someone pops their head up

  2. My research has all been digitised. My second child who is 10 has expressed a chronic interest in my family tree and my fourteen year old will browse over it every now and then.

    • Jennifer Jones permalink

      Nurture that interest Beth. It’s quite rare these days.

  3. What to do with all my research is something I struggle with on a regular basis. There are a lot of people that enjoy the stories and reading the documents, but none that really want to take on the responsibility of maintaining it after I’m gone. Good luck with your plan, Jennifer!

    • Jennifer Jones permalink

      It does seem like it’s a common problem that’s for sure

  4. I have so many documents I need to digitize, I also need to organize my files and my digital files. Thanks for this post and ideas.

  5. Sounds like a good plan, Jennifer! If you’re interested, you might also consider adding your family tree to FamilySearch. It’s free, and I’m sure they would be good caretakers of your family history. You can even add photos and documents to your tree under the “Memories” tab. 🙂

    • Thanks for the reminder Elizabeth. I will definitely do this. It’s been my plan but time has stopped me. Now is perfect time while in isolation.

  6. I’ve been blogging my finds and family stories in hopes that those will be preserved, but knowing the transient nature of the Internet, more needs to be done. My plan (I’m 71) is to gather the blog posts by surname into self-published books using Blurb. com. I’ve done a few prototype books using Shutterfly but it doesn’t lend itself to lots of text. So far, I’ve covered my grandfather’s WWI experience, my mother’s 1940s years, and my Vining family stories.
    It feels overwhelming, but like you, I have no one willing to take it on after I’m gone.

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