If you have any type of collection of family photos, history, documents, journals, letters, vital records or written family history, you will want to see that your surviving family knows your wishes as to what happens to those items. If you have a family member who has already requested to take over those records and photos after your death, great, but better yet, put into writing by using a ‘Genealogy Will‘. Here you spell it out, the person’s name, address, contact information etc. and what they are to get. If there are a couple relatives, name each and state what each gets.
True, you are leaving up to your heirs or executors of the estate to see that this is accomplished. That is why, you take the initiative ahead of time, make sure the person(s) you want to have the items is willing to accept them. Have a back-up person in mind and add that name and address.
Spend some time with the relative interested in your family collection, show them what you have and what are the brick walls in research you have. This might spark their interest long before they inherit the collection.
If you have no one interested in taking over all your files of family information, check immediately with a local hometown museum. This is especially true if you had ancestors in the town who owned businesses, were community leaders, etc. Museums do love local records on citizens to preserve.
A library outside a family hometown would be the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have a massive collection on families from around the nation. Also remember the Latter-Day Saints (FamilySearch.org) in Salt Lake City, Utah, who preserve thousands of records. Check if there is a local Family History Center of the LDS – Latter-Day Saints, near the family hometown, they would also be interested.
One other major place to donate is the New England Historical Genealogical Society. They accept collections from all over the nation, not just the upper northeast part of the United States. If you had family who could be part of the DAR – Daughters of the American Revolution, there is another good location to donate.
Another method to preserve and save all the information you have gathered is to make sure it is all scanned and made digital. Placed on a disc, it will last for years and be transferred easily to other people or kept by a museum / library.
Here is a link to a Genealogy Will, that can be printed.
>Photo: A Genealogy Will from Kim Melchior.
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