Preparing Your Family History Records for Hand Over – Month 2 Progress Report

19 January 2020

In November 2019 I set a 12 month personal genealogy blog challenge – Preparing Your Family History for Hand Over in the Future. Read about the issues I am going to tackle over the next 12 months and follow my progress. It is obviously a topic that resonates with lots of other genealogists and family historians.

Nobody wants to see their research thrown out so my plan is to sort it, downsize, digitise, write the family stories and share it with other family members and put it online for future generations.

How did the first month go? Read about it here. Thanks to all those people who have been commenting on my blog posts – I quite often forget to go back and see if there are any comments! It is nice to know that others are also tackling this project as it is one that we all face eventually.

Month 2 has been really successful even allowing for time out over Christmas and New Year. In fact the declutter is spreading out of the study – the medicine cupboard has been totally cleared of all out of date medicines and remember your local chemist can dispose of these for you. The pantry also had a really good clean out with the help of my friend Rosemary who visited over New Year. Amazing what finds itself pushed to the very back and gets forgotten about. These are jobs that usually happen when we move house but now that we are ‘never moving again’ it is seven years of out of date clutter!

But back to genealogy. Last month I cleared two drawers in the filing cabinets so that I could put the ring binders in. Eventually these will also be pruned but for now they are tucked away. Not surprisingly there were more binders than two drawers so the rest have gone into the revamped shelves in the wardrobe. For some reason I seem to have collected a lot of empty boxes (shoes, books, parcels) and just chucked them onto the top shelf of the wardrobe. That shelf now has very little on it and what boxes are there have family history material to be sorted as part of this project.

The other end of the wardrobe was also tidied up and non used items removed. I lost count of modems, internet connection cords, out of date software and other bits and pieces which were all boxed up when we last moved. They probably represent the technology we needed in our last four homes.

Given that I haven’t looked in the box for seven years, it is a safe bet that none of it is now useful. There is also a deceased laptop which won’t reboot, a computer tower last used over seven years ago, a screen and keyboard. Plus another laptop in need of a new battery. All removed and will be going to the computer man for advice and disposal or revamping. The wardrobes are now looking quite empty.

My friend Rosemary advised on the dilemma with my 18 personal biographical folders mentioned last month. My idea was to remove everything from the binders and place in protective sleeves before scanning etc. Her advice was handle only once and scan as I go which is good advice and should be standard practice. However I’m not one for doing the obvious, so I trialed removing the first binder documents and they take up two protective sleeves. The weight is the same almost and I have the added problem of how to store and keep the sleeves in the correct order.

So back to Rosemary’s idea of scanning as I go but as I looked more closely at each of the documents are they really worth keeping? The answer is no but they are a good outline of what was happening in the genealogy world back in the 1980s and beyond. My thought now is to simply write up the information in the form of blog posts and only scan key documents or photos that help illustrate the posts. It would also be a good way to share this information with others.

Are you mentioned in any of my biographical binders? If you organised me to speak anytime over the last 40 years the chances are yes! If you are unlucky, there is also a photograph. Still pondering this but I think blog posts are the way to go. When completed that will be another filing drawer empty.

Rosemary is from Canberra and her reward for helping me was to take home my two beautiful books on the history of Canberra. I no longer live there and don’t need them for family history purposes so they have gone back to Canberra for others to enjoy.

This is a good way of disposing of more up market books – find them homes with people who will love and value them. My novels are keeping the op shops happy with donations once I get a box of books together that I really don’t want any more. However, I will say it is getting harder and harder as I think I could almost tell you where and when I bought each and every one of my books. But you can’t take them with you.

Similarly I can’t wait for U3A to start up and I can start disposing, oops sharing, my old family history journals and magazines with the students. The hardest part last year was convincing them I didn’t want them back. Take, enjoy, pass on but do not return! This will be a long project as I have so many and while I probably should cut back on the number of societies I am a member of, I do like to keep up with what’s happening around Australia and overseas.

Another big project was Mum’s photo albums and I am about half way. Unfortunately she used those awful sticky page albums but they are so old the plastic is just falling off when opened. Getting some of the photos off the pages is a little trickier. This has given me photos of my 21st and my brother’s 21st, my two weddings, the first two years of my son’s life and my brother’s first wedding. All fantastic as I didn’t have any of these photos having moved around so much. However I don’t need the hundreds of photos of my son in the first six months of his life! First grandchild received a lot of attention.

With this project the first task was to get the photos out of the albums, then I am putting them into envelopes by event or chronology and then I will select only the best photos to keep and scan. My brother said he was interested in photos directly related to him and his family but none of the other photos of Mum and Dad. So again it will be a matter of select only the best and discard the rest. This selection process should also be applied to our digital photos as we tend to take dozens and I freely admit I rarely go back and delete because there is no space issue. Another project for another day.

From the photos with this blog you can see how some areas are looking much more organised. What you can’t see is how much actually is going into the bin each week. Really staggering and it is all things that can’t be used elsewhere. The photo albums were no good to anyone but I have saved photo frames for the op shops. People often want to buy old frames so that is a good outcome.

On the health front my chemo is now every three weeks and will continue to October. I was under the impression it was only 12 weeks and finished in January. But this is not the case and I also start taking yet another drug for the next 12 months. This will give me between 1 and 20 hot flushes a day – please let it be only one!

Because of the chemo I have had to stay out of the sun and now my Vitamin D level is critical so I am about to take supplements for that. Plus all the other drugs I now take. At least I have my genealogy blog post challenge for 2020 to take my mind off all the other stuff.

Month 3 will be reported around mid February and I hope to keep up this momentum. There is still so much to do and so many hidden tasks with each project area. It is really nice to get comments either on the blog or Facebook as they help to keep me motivated. Last week someone asked me in person about ‘where did I put the binders’ and I simply said wait until this blog post. No spoilers! Thanks for reading and if you are also undertaking this challenge or part of it, good luck.

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  1. Shauna your progress is inspiring.

  2. I totally agree with Alona, I look forward to reading your blogs each issue. I am now closely thinking about everything I do – do I want to print it (no), where am I going to save it (in my FTM or one of my spreadsheets,is it worth notating (sometimes). You did get a mention on my ‘Accentuate the Positive’ blog this month as well!

  3. Thanks Alona and Bobbie – knowing others are reading my posts helps to keep me motivated. It is a huge job if like me you have been researching for over 40 years. Amazing what we amass!

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