|Obsolete floppy discs|
I could, with a great deal of effort, get my hands on something that would allow me to look through those discs and extract any information I might want to keep. But I won't. That's way too much work and time and effort!
And this is but one example of outdated technology. At the time didn't we all figure we could digitize our documents, create our files and save them until we wanted/needed them? But that is what happens with the rapid advance of technology. We end up with important data that can't be read in 5, 10, 15 or more years from when we created it.
As genealogists we save documents, whether original or copies. We need that marriage license of our great-grandparents. We treasure the original 1918 bill for Grandpa Bob's funeral. The push is on to digitize them, to go paperless. But let's be realistic! Will we be able to read or access those treasured digitized items in 10 years or 20 years time?
Sure we saved a copy on our harddrive but computers crash and data is lost. We saved a copy to the Cloud, that was good wasn't it? But we have zero control over cloud services and they may disappear overnight, or there could be a catastrophic failure and saved data is lost. We have copies on CDs and flash drives and external hard drives and we've shared some of those with family. We're covered, right? Wrong. CDs and flash drives might not be readable in the future, just as those little floppy discs are unreadable to most of us.
Even if the cloud with our digitized documents is still there, if you are no longer around, is there anyone in your family who knows your password or has the technical skills to get to it?
So what's a genealogist to do? Well, first of all you should absolutely digitize your papers and photos and save them in every spot you can think of! The more backups the better. But don't be too quick to throw out those paper originals!
|Blanket Box of Ephemera|
But I know that at some point in the future someone (most likely one of my grandson's wives, or a granddaughter) will almost certainly look at that blanket box and think "Hmmmm I could store a lot of bedding in here! And what's with these papers? Holy cow, do we really need to give up good storage space for my husband's great grandmother's driver's licence or her marriage certificate?" And his grandpa's death certificate!!??"
And the papers I have treasured and saved for future generations will be tossed. So what do we do? How do we get the maximum chances that our paper ephemera will be kept by future generations?
In the next few blog posts I'm going to show you several different plans for preserving these paper documents and treasures such as Great Grandmother Harriet's baptism certificate or Great uncle Syd's military discharge papers.
You can follow these upcoming blog posts by choosing the topic "Preserving Paper Treasures" from the right hand side bar.