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Digital / Paperless and Keeping Originals

paper-vial recWith nearly everything done as digital, you might wonder if there will be no need to keep paper copies of vital records, letters, documents, etc. The answer clearly is YES.

Go back a hundred years, the U. S. Federal Census records beginning with the 20th century had available a new technology – that of microfilming. Wonderful idea to microfilm those census records during the 20th century. Only problem it was decided by the ‘powers’ that be, to then destroy the piles of the original paper census records they had just microfilmed. They failed to totally check that every microfilm page was clear and crisp. It is eventually realized the paper censuses are gone forever and all that remains are some of the microfilm papers are not clearly readable. That information lost forever.

paper-mircofilmAnother great lost of documents occurred on July 12, 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center in Overland near St. Louis, MO. when a fire destroyed nearly all the military records held in this facility. Those veterans in the US Army who served Nov. 1912 to Jan. 1960 Рabout 80% of those records were burned beyond saving. I was very lucky, my father who was Army, serving during those years, his entire 30-year file was spared. I had a complete copy of his thick file sent to me in paper form. The Air Force branch of veterans from Sept. 1947 to Jan. 1964, with surnamesbeginning with Hubbard and running through the end of the alphabet, about 75% of those records are gone. All toll about 16-18 million records burned in that 1973 fire. There were no duplicate copies of these records ever maintained, nor were any microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. Since 1973, all the Records Center could do was attempt to piece together from other records tiny bits of information on veterans covering those years. Such a loss for the nation and for family histories.

paper-flashThat same concept applies to your own family history documents. Yes, scan the different family marriage certificates, obituaries, photos, letters, military records-pensions, etc, but you do have to figure out a safe storage place, organized, so you can put your hands on the originals when needed. You could also print copies of the most important family papers and have another family member have those copies to keep – again another backup.

paper-ex hard driveAlso have produced many digital copies of the scanned collection. Use the thumb drives (flash drives), use a portable external hard drive, use a disk, and also the newest technology – the ‘Cloud’ storage. Most important, when a new technology becomes available, you do have to add that method to keep up and keep stored.

So go paper and paperless.  paper-cloud

Photos: Paper Vital Records, microfilm, flash drives (thumbnail drives), external hard drive, and Cloud Storage.

Related genealogy blogs:

Transcribe Old Documents

Preserving Old Books and Documents

Using Amazon Cloud Storage

Saving Your Research

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