Sunday, July 26, 2015

Genealogy ~ How Many Certificates Do You Need?

My wife calls me a pack rat when it comes to my genealogy records.  I call myselfmarried_couple a well-sourced researcher.  Which of us is right?

This morning, I mentioned that I needed to pick up several more Wilson-Jones 367-49 heavy 3-ring binders and a couple thousand sheet protectors for my ever increasing collection of genealogy source documents.  That comment started a discussion about "how large of a collection do I intend to keep at our house."

My position was that you can't have too many source documents to support your research data, especially if a large percentage of them are Birth, Marriage and Death certificates along with a liberal smattering of wills, deeds, journals and photographs.

Of course, my position on this is correct, as I'm sure you defend your similar position to your own spouse and family.  Undoubtedly, their eyebrows raise when you say something similar to them too.

"I don't have THAT much."  "Why are you concerned about it?"  That is a reasonable statement, isn't it?

"Let's take an inventory of what you have and measure it against what is Too Much"  Hmmmm...  This argument may not go in my favor.

An hour later, I totaled the columns of tick marks just to be sure they were 'fairly' counted.  It does seem that I have a 'little' larger collection than I realized.

Four Drawer File Cabinets 4
Horizontal Four Drawer File Cabinets 1
Book Shelves (6 ft wide to ceiling) 4
Wall Cabinets 10
3” Wilson-Jones Hard Cover Binders 42
Terabytes of Disk Storage 14
Computers dedicated to Genealogy 6
Grab Bags for Interviews 2
Photography Bags and Equipment 3
Flat Bed Scanners 3
Printers 4
Desks or Built in Work Surfaces 4
Storage Closets 2
Rooms to Store all this stuff 3

As you can imagine, my argument was weakened "a bit" by this revealing list.  I'm still not moving away from my initial position but I'm sure the discussion will not 'go away' over time.

My wife also loves genealogy, so we both have that bias in common.  Nonetheless, she asks "How Much Is Enough?" and made sure that I clearly understand that my genealogy space 'creep' will not be allowed into her quilting room / domain.

Our Tech Manager son tells me to 'Digitize Everything', meaning that I should toss the hard copies.  Of course he knows that I've always created digital copies of my documents, notes, etc., and have them backed up in multiple locations, but "Toss the Hardcopies""  That isn't going to happen for a number of reasons, including document survivability in scenarios such as loosing my digital copies to a hi-elevation EMF Pulse or some other cataclysmic event.  The news on television tells me to expect about anything these days.

Yes, I understand the ramifications of such a devastating event would impact my life so greatly that I probably won't care about doing or proving genealogical research for a long time, but I want to give the records as many chances to survive as I can.

I've talked to our children about taking over my somewhat large genealogy collection after my wife and I pass from this life.  Who can house it?  Who wants it?  Who will continue in our ancestral quest?  There is a lot of interest among them but no takers so far.

The answers to the longtime disposition of my records and data isn't settled yet.  Donating the collection to a library hasn't been as good of an idea as I initially thought.  Most libraries don't want it or if they did accept it would 'toss' the majority of it to save space.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah doesn't' want it.  They'll accept it in published book form but not all of the binders, files and digital files that I have.  The very large family history library at Brigham Young University doesn't want it, again unless it is in bound books, etc.

The decision about how to pass my research and associated records that were accumulated over tens of thousands of hours with a huge financial investment during my lifetime has yet to be resolved.

I'm currently uploading ancestral photos, source documents, histories and other records to my ancestral records on FamilySearch Tree, but the going is slow.  I know that the images and files that I save there will survive about anything short of the earth being vaporized.

I'm still exploring other solutions that I'll rely on in parallel to the FamilySearch Tree.  I'm not sure that most of them are workable solutions but I'll choose one or two of them before long and run with them.   You are probably in the same position to one varying degree or another. 

Let me know your plan.  However, please don't comment on the size of my genealogy collection as a cc: to my sweetheart though.  OK?  We've already had that discussion.

Posted 26 Jul 2015 by Lee R. Drew on Lineagekeeper’s Genealogy Blog


Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

I completely understand your dilemma. I am interested in genealogy and quilting, and both of those interests want to take over my house and all of my time. I have been trying to gather the genealogy information into books - published books and gift a copy to the person who might be interested. This does take up more space instead of less though because I keep a copy for myself. I have been able to let go of some hard copies after scanning because the place I got it should have the original.

Lee Drew said...

In answer to the many questions that have come in about my final storage decision: The more I've studied the issue of long term document and image storage, the more I'm drawn to FamilySearch Tree as the repository for my primary source documents and for the majority of my secondary source documents and images. I've toured the granite vaults where their data is stored with a constant backup process in place and functioning. I'm impressed with the whole data storage system. Given that the images I put on my ancestors records on Tree are part of their data storage plan, I get the benefit of knowing the images will be there forever.