Friday, April 2, 2010

Keep a Record of Family Treasures -- Your Kids Will Be Glad You Did

A recent article on, "Make records of family heirlooms," offers a good reminder and some advice on making a record of family photographs and keepsakes that are to be handed down through the generations. If you want something to endure, you might want to identify its meaning, otherwise those who follow might not be aware and will make their own executive decisions about its disposal. Hosting the GenealogyToday booth at conferences, I've talked to people that tossed a lot of stuff before the knew its meaning, and lived to regret it. 

Now, our family does not have a lot of heirlooms; certainly nothing of great value -- just sentimental stuff, but that in itself does have meaning. For example, I have a pair of gold-dust earrings handed down from my mother. Sounds impressive, but they aren't worth much  . . . monetarily. I have a second pair just like them, handed down from my aunt -- they sort of did things in pairs. My aunt was the trail blazer in our family who made her way to Alaska in 1950 with my then teenage brother in tow. Given our family's 60-year (and counting) history in Alaska (including a turn-of-the-nineteenth century gold miner) and these earrings came from there, there is a story to go with the earrings that may add sentimental value, if nothing else. My own children might figure out their meaning without its being in writing, but my grandchildren, not so much. So do put the story in writing, following some of the guidelines suggested in the article. Your posterity will be glad you did.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 21, 2009

What the heck is "data rot" and why do we care?

If you have ever experienced a system crash, you know how devastating it can be -- the challenge of trying to reconstruct information that has been damaged or irretrievably lost is the computer user's nightmare.  As beneficial as computer technology is, and it's revolutionized the field of genealogy, it still comes with a powerful caveat: be aware of "data rot"; that is, the deterioration of the medium on which information is stored (CDs, DVDs, hard drives, magnetic tape, etc.) and the problem of accessing data when medium and the equipment to run it becomes obsolete. "The Ten Commandments on floppy? Where would we be?" explores the issues and what can be done to preserve valuable information.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Personal Blogs as Historical Documents

Today's blogs represent modern day journals, and as such should be preserved. The article, "Personal Blogs as Historical Documents," explores the personal nature of today's blogs and the importance of backing them up . . . offline.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What will happen to my research?

Many of us, no doubt, have seen in our travels remnants of someone's personal history collection. Maybe an old, but beautiful photo album in an antique store, filled with period photos of "someone's" family; a box of collected miscellany sitting in the back corner of a thrift shop or on the auction block somewhere -- or worse, as Arlene Eakle experienced, in trash bag awaiting the dumpster. How those materials arrived at that spot is a mystery, but most likely were, at some point, among one person's or one family's treasures. Today, more and more, we are finding efforts within the genealogical community to receive and preserve these abandoned records. In a recent article, "What will happen to my research?," Alan Smith suggests some options for those who may looking to archive their family record, to save others from making the decisions.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A CD of your old family photos -- a perfect gift

You know the old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket. The rule applies to many things, including money and your treasured family photos, something money can't buy. Thanks to modern technology, we have a way to preserve and protect old family pictures by scanning them. As Shelley Poblete notes in her article, "Photographs: The Importance of Sharing," scanning preserves the image in its current state, even though the original may continue to deteriorate. But she also notes that scanning them and storing them in your own home is not enough -- to finish the job of preservation, they need to be distributed. You need to share them. With the holiday season at hand, a CD of your old photos may be the perfect gift.

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't Bleach That Tombstone! and other preservation tips

"Tombstones won’t always look new and they shouldn’t." Before heading out to the cemetery with good intentions, you may want to take a moment to think carefully about your plans to tidy up. An article in the News Examiner - Enterprise, "Don't bleach or scrub that tombstone," provides a number of tips for what NOT to do when cleaning cemetery headstones. Based recommendations from a National Park Service preservation workshop we find many of the methods commonly used to clean tombstones actually destroy the stone.

Having attended the workshop, Shirley Pettingill who oversees maintenance of Ross and Worcester cemeteries in Park Hill, Oklahoma notes, "cleaning a tombstone is a lot different than cleaning a bathroom." Using chemicals on a tombstone will ruin it. "People mean well, but they don’t realize that what they’re doing can be more harmful than helpful,” she said. Even the simple practice of "chalking" or "rubbing" will wear down the headstone.

"I learned so much at that seminar,” said Pettingill, “A lot of us just looked at each other and said, ’Oh! We’ve been so bad!” For more information on "Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker" and other topics, visit the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training web site.

Labels: ,

GenWeekly -- Delivering a Fresh Perspective for Genealogists