[Email of May 2013]
I may have told many of you that over the last several months I have been digitizing (scanning) my genealogy files and converting paper files to PDF files. I had accumulated nearly 30 years of Yancey family correspondence and research notes and copies. At about the midpoint stage of my research I think I estimated I had over 20,000 pages of material. A fair amount of the records since that stage were in email or other electronic format . .. but the paper was getting overwhelming and not easily managed – and the wife kept threatening to do something with all the papers in the garage . . . J
Over the last few months I have made great progress in the digitization. I would say I have somewhere around 2/3’s of my correspondence files scanned. Certain items like copies from certain books – I may never scan – because I know I can always revert back to a copy of the book.
There were various motivating factors in this project.
1) Paper files just take up room - a lot of it – if you are a serious researcher and/or have inherited stuff from other people. Its almost like MAGIC – that all that paper can be reduced down to a chip probably the size of your fingernail.
2) No more degradation of the material. Paper discolors over time and eventually crumbles. Photos fade. Creating digital copies ensures that such info doesn’t degrade over time.
3) Safety and preservation of materials. WE were hit here in South Florida by Hurricane Andrew. Luckily our house was not significantly damaged. BUT whether its hurricane, fire, a broken pipe or whatever – once its damaged you may never be able to bring it back.
4) Ease of distribution - Often in the past I would have large items of possible interest to other researchers – but never took the time to share it because I would have to do a bunch of Xeroxing and then pay for shipping. Now files can be shared, distributed, copied etc. all in the matter of seconds.
5) Backup/Archiving. Now within a few minutes – I can make backup copies of my material – and offload to a secondary media or site. There is no reason for me NOT to have a backup cop of the material I have.
6) Ease of movement. I no longer have to worry that the day I move to a different house I will have to moved so many boxes and file cabinets. Its all on that flash drive or portable hard drive – I can take my entire collection to the office on my key chain.
7) Organization and ease of use - this is an aspect I didn’t really think about early on – but it really is a nice aspect of having it all on a computer and organized in a way that makes sense to who is using it. I no longer have to worry about a binder being out of place, or a letter I didn’t put back in the file. I don’t have to worry about resizing cabinets or binders. I don’t waste my time looking for misplaced material.
I wonder how many of you have large collections of genealogical material in paper or photo format??? What ideas do you have about preserving it for the future??
I wonder how many of you know a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or cousin - or anyone who has a large collection of material – that may be in danger of being lost to us – once such person passes on and the family doesn’t know what to do with it – nor where to put it (other than the trash).
My goal over the years has always been to try and record and preserve as much of the family history and genealogy for future generations. I would be willing to work with any of you in seeing that YOUR collection of material is recorded and preserved. Or that some collection that you know about is not lost when its owner passes on.
Please write to me and tell me about who in YOUR family - seems to be the one who comes to mind as someone with lots of great records – but such records being in danger of being destroyed or made inaccessible when the person passes on? I wonder who you know ?
Also interested in anyone else’s thoughts and ideas about information preservation and backup in general.
Interested in hearing from you and knowing your thoughts.
http://yanceyfamilygenealogy.org/ ß- click here