Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting rid of all of my paper copies

I have been a little slow in posting over the past week or two. I have been working on a personal genealogy project for the past few months and I have been rolling with it lately. I was looking around my office one day and noticed how many files I had. I literally have hundreds of file folders, filled with copies from deed books or census records. I am extremely neat and organized, everything has its place, but I started thinking about what happens to all of this stuffwhen I die?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized all of these files have a 99% chance of ending up in the trash. My kids might care less about them so I am running a huge risk of wasting all of my the long run. I made a bold decision, one that I might regret later, but I am going through with it for better or worse. I am throwing everything away myself and not waiting for them to do it!

I decided to go through each file and scan everything into my computer, either as a JPEG or PDF. I am then sending copies to anybody I know researching that family. There is no sense in being stingy with what I have if it might advance research on that line. I am also making sure that I have entered everything into FTM2008 and that all of my entries are neat and uniform. My goal for years has been to put together a book of all my research and I am finally doing it!

I made the decision to stick with Family Tree Maker 2008 and/or 2009 because it does a great job handling media files and I am adding all of my scans into the program. It is actually quite neat to be able to pull up any document at any time, no matter where I am located. It is really getting me interested in genealogy all over again!

I also made another huge decision...I am dropping everyone except for direct ancestors from my family file. I did the math on it and I have about 350 direct ancestors in my family file. Compare that the around 2,500 people, including all aunts, uncles and cousins. There is no way to really focus on quality with that many people (and I could care less about quantity). I am focusing on the direct ancestors and moving information about their children to the notes section of each ancestor.

I want to focus on preserving the history of my ancestors as opposed to my relatives. This is counter to what most genealogists try to do but I want to actually finish the book project and cannot do it while trying to fit in 2,500 people. I want to go back and look for deeds and stuff from my ancestors that I have neglected to look for in the past. I want to fill in the blanks that I have been too preoccupied with aunts and cousins to do. I also only want to go back about six, maybe seven generations. Anything beyond that tends to get too sketchy for me. I do not operator on theory.

Now do not get me wrong, I am still looking for marriage, death and SS-5 info for aunts and uncles that may give me info on their parents, my ancestors. I just cannot focus on them any more. I am going to get out a first revision of my family history book, with my ancestors only, and then I might go back and do more detailed books on each family surname. I have enough info in my files to write ten books, easily. I just need to shrink my focus to make sure it gets done.

The last big decision I have made is to keep only original documents and photographs. I am then going to donate all of those to a local library or society. I have a lot of old, original documents that would make a great public collection. I would like to work a deal with William and Mary or the Library of Virginia to one day start the "Lett Collection." I have been a collector of old Virginia documents for some time and will have a rather nice collection by the time I retire from the game. I would like to see it go somewhere safe and enduring.

I know I am rambling a little it but I wanted to let you know what is going on in my genealogical world. The genealogy industry has been kinda slow in general this week so I have not had much to pass along either. Have a good weekend!

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