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.
Since my last post in March, most of us have been staying at home due to restrictions implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. This has meant that many more people have had free time to tidy up their records and do more research. I am not sure about others, but as the weeks have gone by, I have lost some of my enthusiasm for just about everything. I am missing seeing others and interacting socially in person, thankfully we still have our internet/social media connections. This malaise is probably why it has taken me so long to finalise the fifth month progress report.
Lockdown has continued and I have made more progress on all my little, and not so little projects. But I have found the momentum gone as there is nothing to break up the working bees.
Another distraction has been that many places have made copies of their digital records available online free during the coronavirus restrictions. The National Archives UK did this and I spent many happy hours downloading wills for my ancestors. As it was free, I took the option of also getting collateral lines not just direct ancestors. Sadly, not everyone left a will, but you should always check, just in case. This offer currently ends 31 July 2020 so don’t miss out.
Plus there have been lots of virtual seminars/webinars, and even society meetings via Zoom and GotoMeeting platforms. Is this a foreshadow of the future of genealogy around the world?
These seem to breed by themselves so there has been a determined effort to discontinue newsletters and adverts that I do not really want or need. This will reduce the number in future, I hope. Plus, I have been either filing in folders or deleting if no longer relevant. I have a main email account plus a gmail account, but I am slowly moving to just gmail. I can access that easily on my phone and there is only one place to look for emails.
Another tedious job of looking at my folders, creating more subfolders and making sure that the right documents are in the right folders. I have also found that I have duplicate folders. For example, I had one for Conferences where all my notes, handouts and other documents go in by year and then by name/place of conference. I discovered another Conferences folder under my Genealogy folder which contained the same type of folders and records.
These are now all merged into the one Conferences folder as that is a major activity for me. Although with the current social distancing rules, it may be some time before I attend another conference in person. A new and exciting trend is virtual conferences and I can still file any handouts in this folder.
What to do with conference satchels may not be an issue in the future, if we do move to the virtual world.
I have now moved all my digital family history photos from the Pictures category to Documents and filed them under the relevant family name in my family history folder. I could never remember if I had filed an image in the Documents or Pictures folders, so now I only have one place to look. Although I still need to tidy up all the individual folders, but these changes are making it easier for me to find things quicker.
Last month I mentioned that I had dozens of them for the last 10 years in one of the desk drawers. Going through them I noted down a few things but most of the notes had been captured in my blog posts relating to the events attended. After serious consideration, they all went into the rubbish bin.
In some ways, if you have not looked at something for years, the chances are that it is not worth keeping.
Writing Family Stories
This is where I have spent a lot of time, adding to and amending my draft family histories for the Finn and White families. I probably should focus on just one at a time, but I like variety. The Finns are Irish from County Wicklow and the Whites are English from County Wiltshire. The trouble is that there is new information to include and I can now see gaps that need to be filled.
Almost never ending but I am closer than I was a month ago.
As I write this, we are slowly venturing out again, but it will be sometime before we see larger gatherings. In the meantime, I have started up a local Zoom Genies group and we meet every Tuesday online. This is providing me with more interest and motivation, and I hope that my COVID daze/malaise will disappear. Otherwise, it is going to take me years to tidy up my records for handover.
Take care everyone in these challenging times and be thankful that so much of family history can now be done online. Keep going with all your projects. Chip away and there will be nothing left to do when you finish. Stay safe and well.