Preparing Your Family Records for Hand Over Month 4 Progress Report

27 March 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 three months go? Read about Month 1 here. and Month 2 here and Month 3 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. The feedback through Facebook and on the blog has been wonderful and has kept me motivated.

Month 4

Wow what a lot has happened in the last month. Three months ago I had no idea that I would end up staying at home with nothing to do thanks to COVID-19 except family history (and ok, perhaps the odd bit of cleaning and other domestic chores). What I am finding hard is not having the personal interaction with my U3A genealogy classes and being out and about talking at various libraries and societies. I really love sharing my successes and knowledge with others so it was disappointing to have everything cancelled. Thank goodness for the internet as we can still all keep in touch with email, Facebook, and other social media.

Too many pencils

As I was away for two weeks in March, progress on the tidy up has been slower but no doubt I will catch up and perhaps even surpass my earlier efforts in the coming months. My easy target this month was tidying up all the study desk drawers.

What it made me realise is that I have far too many pens and pencils! I have accumulated these over the years from various genealogy conferences and other events. It seems to take forever to use up a pen these days as mostly we type everything. Perhaps I can bundle some up and give them away as presents? I can’t bring myself to simply toss them out. What do other people do with surplus pens and pencils?

Too many pens

The paper filing system for my son’s family history was the target for March and he has a number of convicts. I have some awful microfilm printouts of convict documents which are now digitised and online. These are more readable and of course can be saved in digital format.

An easy task to simply throw the paper copies in the bin, but, a little longer to locate the image online, download and save. Of course this then leads to you discovering new information about your person which you simply have to investigate straight away. With these clues you head on to a quick search of Trove and then you are lost in the wonderful world of digitised newspapers.

Where I am really finding time being taken up is going through my Word and Excel files. There are many files that are no longer relevant or have been superceded by others. To be honest there are even some that I have no idea why I started them or saved them in the first place. Opening files up, seeing what they are about and deciding if they should be kept often leads me down yet another path. I keep telling myself this is 20 years of efiles and I have never really tidied them up before.

Ship docked at Juneau, Alaska 2018

The same applies to all my digital photos. For example, as a task I have been looking at all my photos from the Unlock the Past genealogy cruises over the last 10 years. So many images need to be culled as they are blurred, or multiple copies of the same shot or defect in some other way. Choosing the best and naming them all takes time. Yes I know that I should do this shortly after every trip but somehow I rarely have found time to do that.

These leads to another stash of records discovered while tidying up my study drawers. I have dozens of hand written notebooks for each and every genealogy conference I have been too. I have always thought that at some point I would go back through them again. Another task but a quick glance tells me that some of my notes may be a bit cryptic and it is a sure bet that some of the URLs will have changed. Still a good memory jogger of wonderful tips passed on by excellent speakers over the years.

In some way having all this enforced time at home makes it harder to research or tidy up. I now find that I’m dithering and taking longer whereas before with limited time I was faster and more decisive as there was less free time. For April I am going to set some defined tasks with time frames and be more focused. For example, the two hours I would normally have at U3A on a Tuesday could be my two hours of photo scanning. I wouldn’t miss U3A, so similarly I should not miss my scanning task. That’s the theory, let’s hope it works.

Take care everyone in these challenging times and be thankful that so much of family history can now be done online. Remember to also search archive and library catalogues for things you want to look at when everything opens up again. Stay safe.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the update Shauna. Yes, I’ve also got a pretty good biro collection. I’ve already taken some into GSQ a few months ago, but when I get to go back there will take more (suitably sanitized) as they often unintentially grow wings there and we do still have a sign-in system.
    As for digital photos (mainly holiday snaps), oh gosh – I take heaps and rarely delete any. I really should go through them and free up some of my precious google space. Yes, I also have them saved in Google Photos but that system down-sizes them so I leave the originals in Google Drive – do I need to??

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