|Farkas-Marks wedding, 1930s, New York City|
Please think about writing your Genealogical "Will" to be sure all your hard work and carefully-researched materials are preserved for future generations. This may well be the most important step in the entire process, to avoid family historians having to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel when you already have so much to share with your family.
I'm lucky: I have a volunteer from my side of the family and another from hubby's side of the family to take custody of all the archived records, files, photos, and family tree data, both hard copies and electronically. I'm also leaving each of these genealogy heirs a sum of money to help them preserve all my genealogical data so it gets passed down for many years.
So start by identifying your genealogical heirs. Then, with a written document, be sure your genealogical heirs know the location and disposition of:
- Photographs (all captioned, right?!) Above, a treasured framed photo in my possession of a Farkas family wedding, showing my grandma (seated second from right) at her sister Jeanne's wedding) and grandpa (third from right, standing). I've willed this to my genealogical heir so it will always be in the family.
- Family histories in bound or printed form
- Diaries and notebooks from ancestors and relatives
- Online family trees
- Correspondence about genealogy with relatives, historical societies, etc.
- Original documentation (marriage/death/birth certs for instance)
- Computer files with family tree data
- Audio files (I have microcassettes) containing oral histories
- DVDs, flash drives, and other electronic media containing digitized versions of genealogy data
In addition, I've gifted items (like a WWII war bonds wallet and an 1800s handwritten notebook of debits and credits) to historical societies and museums to be archived and maintained for the future.
To help plan your genealogical "will," check out the following links I found through a quick online search (not an endorsement, just a suggestion for more reading and follow-up). Also consider getting professional advice about your own personal situation!
- Thomas MacEntee's compact book about how to arrange for your genealogy research to be preserved "after you're gone" (see his YouTube video here).
- A template for a genealogical "will," from Devon Family History Society.
- A template from the Northern Neck of Virginia Law Page for a genealogical "will."
- Guest post on Geneabloggers by Paul Brooks about this topic.
- Genealogical will file posted to Gen Do-Over's Facebook page by Carol Corbett Ellis-Jones.