Have you thought about what will happen to your genealogy research after you are gone? I don't know about you but I have several filing cabinets full of genealogy papers and records that I have compiled over the years. It's unlikely that any one person would be willing to take all these home and start going through them.
Often there is only one genealogy addict for each generation. I'm the one in my generation and have been for over 30 years. That means no one else is very interested. Oh sure they like the occasional interesting story of an ancestor but to scroll through reel after reel of microfilm or puzzle over a census record for clues - nope.
After we've done all that work for the past 10 or 20 or 30 years, it is human nature to want to see it passed on and not discarded as if it had no meaning or importance.
Perhaps you have an appointed person who will pick up the torch and carry on after your demise. But even if there is one person you hope will do this, do you think they really want your boxes or drawers full of papers to sort through? I'm an avid genealogist and can never get enough. But when my mother died I took 4 filing cabinet drawers full of her genealogy research and put them in boxes to bring home. I've never gone through it and it's been 6 years. Every time I look at the boxes full of miscellaneous notes and papers and records I am overwhelmed at the task of sorting, analyzing and figuring out what to keep and what to toss.
So what's the solution? How do we find and prepare a suitable torch-bearer and how can we get our genealogy research into a state that will make it easy for the next generation to carry on?
I've approached this in different ways. One thing I've been doing for a few years now is creating hard cover "coffee table" books on Shutterfly. Here's a tutorial on how I create them:
Each book is about one family. I like to keep them 25 pages or less and they are meant to highlight the family with stories, photos and some of the documents I have obtained. For my McGinnis family I created 4 different volumes, one for each generation starting with mine. These are given to each of my children in hopes that they will find their way down to my grandchildren and perhaps continue to be passed on.
The second method I'm working on is putting all my copies of original records - vital registrations, wills, census and so on, into binders (one per family) which also contain a pedigree chart for that family. In my mind it is a summary of the family with documentation and I am hopeful it is something that anyone remotely interested in the genealogy would be happy to take to their home and keep.
I also am currently working on getting all these papers digitized, put on flash drives and given to my children. That's a big job and it's not high on my list since technology changes so quickly the day will almost certainly come when the data cannot be retrieved. Remember those big floppy discs for computers? Or the smaller ones? Who can read them now?
Digitizing the papers is important though because then you can save them in the cloud and on your computer. It's a great back-up method for your work but I don't see it as viable for passing on to family.
Don't be fooled into thinking the local genealogy society or library or museum will want your papers. They may happily accept a book about your families but loose papers are unlikely to be given a home.
What's your plan? Share your ideas here and let's see what plans and projects we can come up with.