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What will happen to my research?

Thoughts and ideas for passing along your family history collection.


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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
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Word Count: 542 (approx.)
Labels: Publishing 
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As many family historians approach their "golden years," there comes a moment when they wonder what will happen to all the hard earned data they have collected over several decades. Unfortunately, their siblings, nephews and nieces may not be as enthusiastic about the family history as they are. One's hard to find obituaries and land records may be looked at by the next generation as a pile of stuff just taking up valuable space.

Don't fret, at least not yet. There are several options which may help guarantee that your hard work will live on. After all, there are some who appreciate your efforts and would squeal with joy to discover your legacy of history, which just happened to contain valuable information of their family.

The Book Project

It is an old idea, but one way to immortalize yourself and your collection of family history is to publish it into book or CD form. With the invention of (POD) "publishing on demand," publishing a book has become easier and less expensive than ever. A limited number of copies can be printed at any time by an online publisher. Publishing a book does not have to be a big production. You can print copies of your family sheets, or pages of your scrap book and bind them with a spiral binding and send copies to the family members in your extended clan whom may be interested in their past. In this way you are assured that several copies of your life's work are in circulation. Don't forget to send copies to local genealogical societies which have libraries and send some copies to the largest libraries across the nation. In this way you ensure your life's work will not go in vane.

Genealogical history destinations

There are several local and national organizations which would accept your historical research and preserve them in their archives. This is perhaps the best method in ensuring your materials are kept safe and sound. There are also online web sites including the genealogical institute at This center is a non-profit library established by Arlene H. Eakle and accepts contribution of genealogical collections. Other examples are the John Marshall Research library in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, the Allen County Public Library in Indiana, and many state libraries and the National Archives have genealogical sections. Any of these groups can be contacted and queried for their policies in receiving your collection.

Wills and artistic properties clause

It is never too early to install a clause in your will which spells out what you want done with your genealogical research. You may be uncertain as to who in your family would be an ideal candidate to receive your family history data. You can always stipulate that your collection should go to a family member who promises to keep the information intact; and if that is not possible, the collection should go to a local library or genealogical organization. In this way you are making your wishes known to your family concerning your collection.

No matter which route you choose, it is time to start organizing your research and deciding what is important and what is redundant. I know the future generations of genealogists will thank you for your good works.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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