February 21, 2009

Genealogy and Family Hope Chest Step 8: Genealogy Research

Well here we are at Step 8. We are ready to tackle the Genealogy Research we've done over the past 10, 20, 30 or more years. That's a lot of paper!

Everyone works differently. Some researchers use binders to store their research. I use filing cabinets.

I have 2 cabinets with 3 drawers each - the kind that sit sideways, each cabinet is 3 ft wide. I also have a regular filing cabinet with 2 drawers and 3 sets of loose hanging file folders on top of furniture in my office.

And let's not forget the piles of research papers defying the laws of gravity sitting on my desk!

It's not feasible to think that any family member, no matter how passionate they are about genealogy, will take all my filing cabinets and papers home with them after my demise.

No library, archives or musuem will want them either. Many genealogists mistakenly believe that their research will be welcomed by these institutions but for 99% of us it will be a "thanks but no thanks". (If you happen to be famous, I'm sure your papers would be gladly accepted!) These institutions simply haven't got room for storage of such items, nor do they have the staff it would take to go through personal research papers and organize and archive them.

So - what to do? We've dedicated a great deal of time, energy and money into this consuming hobby of ours, and we don't want our research findings to be lost forever.

My personal solution is to create booklets on each family name. These booklets can be printed, coil bound and donated to a library or local archive. Here are 3 examples of pages from a booklet I am creating for my King & McGinnis families of the Guelph area of Ontario

Example 1

Share them with as many family members as you can. I plan to donate a copy to the archive and library in the area where my furthest back ancestor first settled.

Example 2

So for example my booklet on my King family who settled near Guelph Ontario circa 1847 will be donated to the Wellington County Museum & Archives, and to the Guelph Public Library.

Your booklet does not have to be complete! Don't wait until you have found that last piece of the puzzle, print up what you have NOW and share it. You can always send an update or addendum or print an entirely new copy for Libraries or Archives

Example 3

Your booklet can be a few pages or hundreds. You can concentrate just on your direct ancestry or you can do all the siblings and their branches. There is no right or wrong. It is whatever suits YOU.

Make sure you put copies of your original records in with your booklets. Make copies of microfilm copies of the various records you found over the years. Put them all in the booklet. That way even if your filing cabinet(s) full of paper and records are lost, you have preserved your research in booklet form.

My husband prefers the scrapbook type method. He makes one digital scrapbook per family and only for his own direct ancestors. He likes to have more graphics than text and he draws little borders around the different items he chooses for each individual.

For example he might put a newspaper clipping on the same page as a census report and a church record for one individual. Each item has its own unique border to help set it apart. One short paragraph for each ancestor is added. He ends up with a very nice (and easy to read!) scrapbook on his ancestors.

Whatever method you choose, just do it. Don't fuss too much, don't wait until you are "finished" because we are never finished our genealogy research! Create your booklet and have fun.

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

This is some advice I can definitely take to heart. I've only been researching a little over three years, but have lots of "stuff" already. But I think I can put these things together in booklets as you have described them. Thanks for the tip!