This extends to all of us. Who would want drawers and drawers of loose papers, no matter how well organized? Who has the time to read it all or the space required to store it?
Digital copies on DVDs? Maybe.. but will they survive technological changes? Will they be readable 50 years from now?
It is unlikely that any museum or library will want your work in loose form.
For me, the solution has always been clear in my mind. The only way I can come close to guaranteeing that my years of hard work will not be lost is to write and publish family books. I can self-publish using any number of websites such as Lulu.com, Shutterfly.com, Blurb.com and soon.
I can print books myself, create laminated covers and bind them using coils. I could print copies of all documents, run off a family pedigree chart and place everything about a specific person or surname in a binder.
That doesn't work well for me as I would end up with 50 or more binders. I don't think anyone would want to give them house room! But it is an option.
That takes care of the documents and research I've done. But what about treasured photographs?
|Some of the Family Books I've self-published|
I'm not going to risk keeping them in my house and hoping that when I'm gone my executor will take the time to distribute them. By giving them out now, I've also got insurance against a fire or other calamity destroying all the copies in my possession.
Another thing I do is create photo books on Shutterfly and order 4 in hard cover - one for each of my children and one for me. Then I inform other family members (siblings, cousins, niece and nephews) that copies in soft cover are available. (Soft cover is cheaper than hard cover. ) If they wish to have their own copy, I simply charge them exactly what Shutterfly charges me, then I have the copy shipped directly to the family member who asked for it.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I've also worked very hard and consistently over the years to encourage my grandchildren in the love of family history and genealogy. I've played games with them, talked to them, shared stories, showed photographs and family treasures (talking about the ancestor whose photo or treasure it was).
My theory is that since I have 13 and soon to be 14 grandchildren, at least one of them might take up the torch for me! And if no one does, that's okay too because I know that some of them will remember bits and pieces of the stories and be able to pass those memories on to their children.
The last thing I've done is to tell my husband and also leave written instructions for my executors as to what I would like done with my collection of genealogy resource books and my collection of Civil War Era Photo Albums that are not of our family. My wishes may or may not be carried out but I've done what I can to ensure that they are.
Have you thought about what will happen to your years of research? Have you developed a plan or set one in motion? I'm curious to learn what others are planning.