You may have read the story about the woman whose family threw all of her genealogy and family history work into the trash after the woman passed away. It is easy to see why this story is shocking to genealogists. Here are some ways you can prevent your family from trashing your family history.
The story may have first appeared on the Deseret News. Merma Grant Carlisle spent her life recording details about her health, her first date, how she met her husband, and more. She had health records that started from when she was a child, and collections of family photos. In addition, there were pedegree charts, family group sheets, and other important genealogical data.
When she passed away, her family came to clean out her home so they could sell it. Sadly, Merma Grant Carlisle’s family members did not see the importance of life’s work. They set it out on the curb with the trash. Fortunately, a neighbor rescued it and managed to find a family member of Merma’s who did see the value of it.
One way to prevent your family from trashing your family history is to digitize everything. FamilySearch is a good choice for storing and sharing your genealogy records and family tree. FamilySearch can host your indexes and records online for you. That information will remain available through FamilySearch after you have passed away.
Do you have a family member who also loves doing genealogy? If so, then you are in luck. That person is going to recognize the value of old family photos, family trees, diary pages and research notes. Start making copies of everything right away – and give those copies to that likeminded relative. He or she may be able to help you digitize things.
Ask a local genealogy library if they might be interested in some of your family history. This might be a good option for a person who is famous in their community, or for a person who is a descendant of a local historical figure. It is wise to ask the genealogy librarians if they have the room to take your work – and if they are interested in having it – ahead of time. Don’t assume they will be able to fit it into a crowded genealogy library.
Another option, and probably an uncomfortable one, is to sit down with your family members and let them know how important your genealogy and family history work is to you. Make it clear that you very much want one of them to keep it after you have passed away. It is possible that your emotional discussion could lead at least one family member to understand why they should not trash your family history.
Image by David Bleasdale on Flickr.
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