Here’s the problem in a nutshell: we live in a digital age, our ancestors did not.
If you don’t recognize the problem, you obviously have never inherited 47 boxes of family history, books and journals like Martha did, as related in the Internet-Genealogy Blog. Or faced a space crunch such as the one that drove famed genealogy blogger Dick Eastman scrambling to his scanner.
It’s hard, if not impossible, for anyone to escape the effects of the digital world. Even though many of us still don’t have computers in our homes, more and more companies and government agencies are requiring electronic filing of claims and reports. I’ve still got phonograph records that have yet to be digitized so they can be heard through digital media.
Martha seems to be taking control of her family history windfall, but I’ll bet many of you are just putting it off, letting boxes of potentially vital family information sit neglected, waiting for that moment of inspiration that will finally get you to peek inside. Truth is, the longer they sit, the more boxes you’ll add to the pile and, the bigger the pile, the more intimidating it becomes and the less likely it is that you’ll do anything about it.
As Eastman writes, he has a high-tech office that he keeps upgrading, generally with smaller, more efficient replacements. While you would think this would help create space, quite the contrary seems to be true. He’s started dismantling books and magazines and scanning them into a digital format. His goal is to do at least 50 pages a day.
The problem remains: do we digitize the paper records of our ancestors or do we print our digital records to match theirs? I believe we’ll continue to be “mixed families” where documents are concerned. We’ll keep the paper we value in that format and digitize the rest. And, if you come into possession of 47 boxes of family history stuff, my advice is to go through it right away. Toss what you don’t need, sell things of value that you don’t want and keep for yourself or distribute to others the rest. Digitize what you can; organize and file away the rest.
Writing prompt of the day: Make a list of the location(s) of all your important family history information and make certain that others in your household know about the list and what you want done with the information after you die.
Flickr photo courtesy of adamquirm.