I’m going to leave this at the top of RandomGenealogy.com for a few days, because I think it’s very important.
Nobody wants to think about disasters, natural and otherwise, whether it’s a fire or something like Hurricane Katrina that has caused so much devastation, or even something lost during a move, but you should think about them, and think about them long before they happen if possible.
A friend sent me a really good article by Lorelle and Brent VanFossen, on their site, Taking your camera on the road.
It’s called Know Before You Go: Paperwork
When we hit the road for more than a couple weeks, we used to have a notebook of papers we’d carry with us. There is a lot of papers you need to take with you when you take your life on the road and we’d rounded up quite a collection. Preparing to evacuate from Israel with the upcoming war with Iraq, we decided to lighten the load, literally.
We gathered up all the important papers in our life and scanned them all onto a CD. We still had to carry copies and originals of the most important papers, but now we had a lightweight, easy to carry, single item to haul around for those necessary but not “must have” pieces of paper. Our first CD was very simple, but now we’ve encrypted the information to make it harder to access if we lose the CD and it gets “found”.
They detail the kinds of documents people need in certain situations, how to store it (including online), and provide a comprehensive list of documents that one might need in an emergency.
Take everything they mention and scan it in, store it somewhere, make copies.
Now how does it tie into genealogy?
Apply the same principals. They mention leaving copies in safe deposit boxes, or even with friends or family members.
Take all of the genealogy information you have, plus all of the photos you have scanned in, plus copies of correspondence, photos of items that were passed down in the family, take all of that, put it on CDs or DVDs (preferably make multiple copies on multiple brands of media just to be safe).
Put copies in safe deposit boxes, and give a copy to friends or family in another city (preferably another state), because think about it for a moment – what if you are the one person in the family that everybody gives family-history type items to. What if something happened to your home. What if you lost all of that.
There are two instances in my immediate family where important documents of this nature were lost, one during a move, one during a house fire, that I would dearly love to have. A few hours of work and $10 worth of CDs or DVDs could insure that future generations of your family have something to look back upon.