Downsizing and Going Paperless

Warning: This article contains personal opinions.

I have written a number of times about the advantages of a paperless lifestyle. Genealogists seem especially attached to paper. We often save photocopies of old records, old books, and much, much more. I once bought a four-drawer filing cabinet to store all my paper. A few years later, I purchased a SECOND four-drawer filing cabinet. I purchased probably more than one hundred dollars’ worth of file folders over the years. I photocopied and photocopied and stored all the paper in neatly-arranged folders.

Sadly, I almost never opened the drawers to retrieve anything. When I did attempt to find something, I often couldn’t locate what I wanted because the document was filed in some obscure method. For instance, the marriage record I might be seeking often was filed under the husband’s surname, not under the wife’s maiden name.

Like a recovering alcoholic, I have since broken my addiction to paper. I now live about 98% paper-free, and I love it. Almost every piece of paper that enters my house is either (1.) discarded immediately or (2.) scanned into my computer, and then the paper is discarded. I don’t ever want to go back to cluttering my life with paper. And, yes, I have multiple backups of everything worth saving; some backup copies are stored at home, and other copies are stored off-site for safety. See http://goo.gl/qLFH63 for some of my earlier articles about how to live a paperless lifestyle.

An article by Jura Koncius of the Washington Post takes the same concept of living paperless and expands it even further. The article says that many Americans, mostly younger adults, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with. Quoting from the article:

“Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.

“Their offspring don’t want them.”

The article goes on to say, “Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just finally embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting.”

My favorite quote from the article is, “If I can’t store my memories of something in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.”

Indeed, we all need to question why we need to save the bric-a-brac of our lives. Do we need our college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections? Even more important, do we need to purchase larger and more expensive homes to keep all our possessions? George Carlin was right about “stuff.” Watch the video below and you, too, will start to see the ridiculousness of your hoarding habits. Warning: there is profanity in the video.

Are you planning to downsize in your retirement years? Now is the time to start planning. I had exposure to downsizing when I spent two years living in a Winnebago motor home. The adjustment was difficult at first. However, once I downsized, I found that possessions were not all that important. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to deal with all my stuff. You might find the same to be true.

Yes, even genealogists can live comfortably without paper or possessions.

You can read the article by Jura Koncius at http://goo.gl/XyAAZw while George Carlin’s comments about stuff may be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac.

My thanks to newsletter reader Jerry Ball for telling me about the article by Jura Koncius.

36 Comments

We all have our opinions on this but it is the clutter that someone saved in the past that we use for genealogy today isn’t it? Archivists are just learning how to conserve “born digital” records which have their own challenges. What you ultimately do is your choice but don’t be the equivalent of the relative we all deplore who threw away all the family photographs and memorabilia after the funeral.
I speak as an old letters junkie. To me there is nothing which compares to touching an old document to get a sense of the person who wrote it. Digital is not the same and I don’t know why. So to me a digital only archive seems a bit soulless but that’s just me. As a professional genealogist and local history researcher I spend my working life delving in old “stuff” that someone thought to keep safe, struggling with secretary hand or even worse sometimes – Regency scrawl. Opening the archive box to look through a “bundle of deeds” is a thrilling if grubby experience. To know that no-one has looked at these for years and that you have no idea what you will find gives a real buzz.
So I will keep my memorabilia for future generations and also keep digital files, I will disseminate my family history information to family members and hope that someone somewhere will have the same buzz in the future at finding it as I do now in the archives I visit.

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    I agree w/biscuitsplease. Who knows when this tide will turn and all these kids will be ruing the day they refused the STUFF. I know it’s a complication to your life, and I love the George Carlin bit, but we ARE (sorry, no italics available) the conservators of the past. What we have to do is ‘sift’ and try to figure out what will be valuable to new generations. My husband inherited a Victorian house full of the stuff of three generations and has found very valuable genealogical information among a lot of other things. Recently our daughter and her family have purchased another family house next door which brings another three generations together to appreciate their past.

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From an article you wrote some months back, I ordered Paperless bundled with a ScanSnap scanner. I haven’t started scanning docs yet but I have finally decided on a course of action. Tags/keywords are powerful database elements and I plan to use the ID number of each person in my TMG file, along with the surnames of the closest common ancestors of that person to me and the type of document. I am undecided about adding the persons’ names to the filenames or not. Gone are the days when filenames were 8+3, but even 256 characters can be a limitation. I know you advocate using Evernote to store these docs so that they are accessible anytime, anywhere. But I have to ask you, do you have an exit strategy if Evernote were to go belly up or if some other solution came on the scene that was too good not to switch to? I know you say you have everything backed up, but are your filenames explicit enough to find what you’re looking for if you no longer have keywords? (I’m assuming you’re using some kind of tagging in Evernote?) And I have to laugh at you Dick. If you never looked for the paper documents in your 4 drawer file cabinets, how often are you looking for things in your digital files? My paper files are growing at an alarming rate and I worry that I’ll just be exchanging digital hoarding for paper.

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    —> if Evernote were to go belly up or if some other solution came on the scene that was too good not to switch to?

    Simple. With a desktop or laptop computer, Evernote stores all the documents on the hard drive of the computer (and keeps backup copies on Evernote’s servers). If Evernote went belly up today, I simply would open the Evernote software on my computer (which would continue to run) and export each note as an HTML file or as an XML file. Another option is to open each note one at a time and simply copy and paste the note to any word processor of choice.

    If I have a lot of notes it would be a tedious process. It might take an evening or two, maybe three, but it can be done.

    —> but are your filenames explicit enough to find what you’re looking for if you no longer have keywords?

    I never worry about file names. With Evernote and a number of other note taking applications, you can search inside all the notes for EVERY WORD. I don’t care about file names as I never search by file names, I search for words inside the notes.

    —> If you never looked for the paper documents in your 4 drawer file cabinets, how often are you looking for things in your digital files?

    Several times each day. I just looked at Evernote a minute ago before writing this reply. I store my genealogy data there as well as copies of my driver’s license, passport, my grocery shopping list, insurance policies, the dimensions of the bathroom that I am about to remodel, the size of all the windows in my house (so that I may purchase blinds and curtains), doctors’ appointments, service appointments for the automobiles, clothing sizes and measurements for several people for Christmas and birthday gifts, all sorts of notes from web sites that I wish to keep, the account information for telephone service and cell phone service, my AAA membership number, notes about upcoming newsletter articles that I plan to write, my airline and hotel reservations, my vegan recipes, passwords for all the online sites I use (encrypted, of course), the expiration dates of all the warrantees on the devices I purchase and my kitchen appliances, frequent flyer numbers for the various airlines I fly on, hotels I have stayed at and would like to stay at again someday, ham radio repeaters, business cards from people I have met along with notes about the conversations we had, notes about web sites, and a lot more. (Whew!)

    It would be a rare day if I didn’t open and use Evernote at least five times during the day, whether from the desktop computer, the cell phone, or the iPad. Most of the time I use the cell phone to access Evernote simply because it is always with me, whether I am at home, standing in line at the grocery store, or looking for my frequent flyer number when at the airport.

    —> My paper files are growing at an alarming rate and I worry that I’ll just be exchanging digital hoarding for paper.

    You need Evernote. You also might want to read “30 Ways Evernote Can Improve Your Life” at http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/02/12/one-app-to-rule-them-all-30-ways-to-use-evernote-to-improve-your-life/

    In my mind, Evernote is not a tool for genealogy use. Instead, it is a tool for many things in my life.

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I beg to differ.
It may be ok for some things but the unnoticed slip of a finger can be become a real problem later if you no longer have that slip of paper you jotted the information on. Banks rely entirely on the computer and a slip there of perhaps an extra 0, is then the truth.

Give me paper and I can find a place to keep it. Do we throw your old photos out after you scan them? Do we toss our original birth records out? How about all of those other documents that have been written in ink and can be proved that they are the original and not a fraudulent document? This am inclined to entertain the thought that the entire “paperless” idea has been hatched by people whose aim is is not storage, but another way of stealing identities and fraudulently monkeying with our finances – as I say – we are facing trying to fight a computer and we all know that is impossible. We are putting ourselves in the hands of people who might sneeze and make a typing error. with no proof that it is correct. I
In genealogy it could be the the differences we see all the time with dates that don’t match, spellings that don’t match, residences that don’t match…
Where so we go – to the original. Towns and cities, Libraries, museums and other repositories of antiquities are rapidly going paperless.
It is a throw away society and we will live to deeply regret it but it will be too late – it went into the trash.
Barbara

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It doesn’t require a specific skill set to drop a piece of paper or a photo into a box. An executor can readily see what is in the box and determine it’s importance and divide the contents. I can see where the digital equivalent to this scenario 100 years from now will be far more complicated. I prefer to use the digital version for sharing.

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Nannette Whitcomb April 1, 2015 at 9:10 am

That not saving “stuff” seems to be of a guy thing, I choose to keep original marriage records, death certificates, Birth certificates, etc. I inherited postcards from my grandmother (their way of communicating), throw them away? NEVER. Scanning and sharing what I have to other researchers is a way of keeping those records alive, but I will certainly keep the paper.

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Unless you inherited your family home and chose not to disposed of anything your parents saved, you have gone through the process of going through someone elses “stuff”. Then you know why so much goes to garage sales, thrift shops, or the local dump. I want to go through my own “stuff” and save only what I believe my family will want to keep. It does not include receipts and paid bills and every card I’ve ever been given. If they want to spend their time going through my evernote files, more power to them, but I think they have their own lives and don’t need to spend days dealing with whats left of mine.

I do hope I get the genealogy published first.

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    That is fine but what f one of those receipts happen to turn out to be a relative you haven’t found yet? Or wouldn’t it be interesting to see a grocery receipt with the cost of items at that time? Or even a receipt of that nice vase you put in the yard sale that happened to become a rare Tiffany, in someone else’s home, that they bought for a dollar.?

    Have you tried to find a deed to the farm that your ancestor owned and find that it had been burned in the fire they had along with the probate records that were there? That is what your descendants might be facing if all these things are tossed out Don’t say they are safe on a computer somewhere because that is “safe” – tell that to the hackers who get into the banks and large corporations – they thought they were safe. It is the big places that the hackers like because there is more information to delete or hijack.
    There is a deep problem going on that nothing is good after a couple of months, after the fad changes.

    I rescue old books – even if the cover is hanging by a thread, if I am interested in the contents. I can learn something from just about every book I get – I learn that this author is one who I can’t trust – too many errors. Or, this book was written long before this fact was learned and that might lead you to a citation you made that took place before it was known.
    There are many reasons for hanging on to odd pieces of paper.

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The current younger generation doesn’t want stuff, so the stuff will be sold off on eBay or whatever. But tastes change, and a later generation might treasure their great-grandparents’ stuff. When the stuff is sold off, the linkage to earlier owners is lost, probably permanently. Like the thrift-store old photographs of generic ancestors. A major increase in entropy.

I’d say that if you have stuff from earlier generations, it is your duty to preserve the stuff and the associated stories, and to pass them on to the next generation.

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Digital is fantastic and great for genealogist, however, what about the place that leaves out a page and the original has been destroyed already. Have you ever found a census record that was split and the next page is missing on the microfilm? I have. Had to travel to the U. of Arkansas in Fayetteville as they fortunately still had the original Agricultural Schedule. They didn’t believe me that a page was missing from the microfilm, so I had so show them. Then I could see the original and order a copy of that page. I have found others, but cannot recall any of them now. With all the deed records, probate, etc. that officials are encouraged to digitalize and dump the originals, I feel sure there will be others.

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I was a category A hoarder and it nearly got the better off me. I had to embrace evernote, trello and relevant software to cope. I am as we speak looking at a filing cabinet that I hardly ever open, filled with stuff I can’t do without. I have to go paperless and this article has been of great assistance. Back up and more back ups that will be the new way for me.

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    The issue is not really paper vs digital. The issue is organization, a basic concept in libraries. How is a book classified? black history vs Civil War? social history vs economics? People who are unorganized are not going to be magically organized by having a pile of little thumb drives sitting in a drawer somewhere. And what about changing technology? I know that Dick is confident that today’s formats will be somehow miraculously converted to the Latest Format of the Future. Not true because of cost. The fact is that a family bible from 1860 can still be read today, but the floppy discs of only a few years ago are not going to be readable now or 20 years from now. Paper: pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

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    —> I know that Dick is confident that today’s formats will be somehow miraculously converted to the Latest Format of the Future.

    Not “miraculously.” Humans need to be involved. But it is today and always will be low cost to convert formats, proabably cheper and cheaper as the years go by.

    The one problem I see is people ignoring the need. If a file or digital image or audio recording or video needs to be converted to a new format, it is easy (and cheap!) to do so for ten or fifteen years after the new format appears. The old format will still be useful and probably multiple conversion programs will be available. However, if a file is placed on the shelf and left there for 50 years, the problem will be much bigger.

    I believe that everyone needs to realize that computer files are like gardens: they need to to be tended to and nurtured in order to survive. We cannot leave them unattended for long periods of time. People who run data centers have known this for decades but the general public often does not appreciate the need to perform periodic data maintenance.

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    I’m with you , Sally:}

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Unfortunately, this is NOT a new thing (younger generations not wanting heirlooms, etc.). I have heard so many times 40-50-60 year olds that are just now getting started in genealogy say, “I wish I had taken the time to ask grandma/grandpa…” or, “I wish I had learned more about my family when I was younger, while the information was still easy to get.” It is from the same roots as the article: short-sightedness and social conditioning (among other things too I am sure). When you are having to work 3 jobs just to get by, the simple fact is that family history is not a priority, unless you either already value it…or choose to. Unfortunately, the pervasive attitude with people today is to prioritize only things that have a monetary value to them. (e. g. Worshipping the “Almighty” Dollar.) No immediate financial benefit…no interest. Long term considerations are just about extinct in this country…we are the instant gratification nation after all. It is also a sad fact that most people in this country have not risen above peer-pressure and capitulate to conformity. And I believe that at least 90% of it comes from clever advertisers who have duped/brainwashed us into telling us what is “cool”…and we as a nation believe them because our critical thinking skills have been intentionally omitted from our schooling along with constant “punishment/sanctions/ostacization” for non-conformity. And this is further agrivated by peer pressure. Advertisers like IKEA who push that sterile, character-less looking furniture, or micro-apartment developers who tell us that a 300 sq ft apt is the new “cool”. or Apple or Lexus or Budweiser, who spouts to us that if you don’t rush out and buy the newest Iphone or car or beer that you are a “nobody” and you have a perfect storm for loss of these valuable items. Nor are children these days taught (although even partially applicable to my school days 30 years ago) to value the past nor its value in their future (Those who do not learn the LESSONS of history are doomed to repeat them. Solely learning various names and dates is NOT learning history in my book.) Also, houses/apartments these days are not built to be able to hold an 8-person table anymore, (you are lucky to get a 3 ft diameter round table in anymore…if there is a “dining” area at all!) so it is no wonder why the kids CAN’T take them. Nor are bedrooms built to be more than 10 x 10, meaning all you can fit in them is a bed and maybe a dresser and a few things on the walls. It is only when these folks get older that the regrets of their short-sightedness and lack of courage to think for themselves finally hits them…and it does. But by then it is far too late.

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    Well put, Danny!
    I thought I knew my grandmother but after she died, I read her diaries – not really diaries but she wrote.:} Every day began with the weather, then perhaps something about went on that day such as she and her sister went somewhere. But there were gaps – sometimes big ones. One that stood out was that she didn’t mention a family member as being in the Army in WW !! – I knew he was – but the first mention after he enter the service was that he was coning home and gave the day and it after the war ended and the troops were coming home. I tried piecing together other gaps, and found when her grandmother died, no mention.
    I am still trying to find out why my birth wasn’t mentioned – my 2 brothers are and my cousins.:} I was her first grandchild.:}
    I am amused by it, but I still wonder why.

    The books are old and really falling apart but I have been given many things in reading them. I have tied some of them together so the loose pages don’t fly out. Many people would have thrown them out because of what they looked like. She was the one who introduced me to my ancestors, at a very young age.

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    Right on the money. I am so glad there are people like me out there.

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If Dick couldn’t find the paper records he needed, it was his filing system that was at fault, not the fact that he was using paper. Recently I had to prove a relative’s nationality, and a copy was not acceptable. The Embassy required an original document. Good thing it had been kept and not scanned and discarded. Also my brain has been attuned for umpteen years to reading print on paper – it’s too late to adapt to working with computer screens all the time, which actually requires a completely new methodology.
I’m in the process of writing an article called ‘The History of my Family in X Objects’. (Not an original idea, copied from a series on BBC Radio 4). Each bit of “Stuff'” evokes a period of history and a story about my family and their life, often typifying that of others.

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I loooovvve paper. I love the smell of old documents, signatures in the original ink. Nothing can replace the faded photographs and the hand-written comments on the back of them. I love holding an actual document and knowing that at one time my relative held it too, and I pause & wonder what was he/she was thinking. This is the romance of genealogy.

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I am dealing with a similar dilemma. I am retired in Mexico and am the last twig on a small branch of my family tree. I have an 1840s Sheridan drop leaf table that belonged to a great great grandmother (not sure which one) who gave it to my great grandparents when they left upstate NY and migrated to rural Iowa in the 1860s. And an 1830s Samuel Terry clock. The table and clock came in a wagon to help create a familiar home. Long story short I brought them to Mexico but have no idea what will happen to them when I’m gone. Neither are in mint condition so they are worth more to me than to anyone else. So I enjoy them.

I do with you’d written this article a few days ago. I just gave a presentation on Evernote to our local genealogy society and could have used a few of your quotes.

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From an article you wrote some months back, I also ordered Paperless bundled with a ScanSnap scanner. I read the book mentioned in that same article “Paperless A MacSparky Field Guide”. I actually scanned everything that I could and I have never looked back. Everything is easy to find. All paper documents scanned have been shredded. NO file cabinets. Also takes me about 2 minutes to share all my research and documents by putting a copy of surname binders on a thumb drive and handing it. The best thing I’ve ever done. I highly recommend it.

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My Grandmother’s brother in law was a commercial photographer in Penrith, Cumbria. I have a series of post cards from his wife to my grandmother in Carlisle – #1 asks is the Carlisle people can find a certain shade of embroidery silk to bring with them when they come to tea. #2 from Carlisle says that silk colour isn’t available and will either of 2 others do? #3 says to bring both, please. All this in one day from early morning to catching the afternoon train! All cards have photos of family on them. Apparently the photographer must have printed these for all the family as I have almost a 100 from various family members to my grandparents who spent much time in China. While I share digital copies of the fronts and backs of the postcards, I could never, ever shred, destroy or give these away. The messages are almost as important as the photos and through my collection I’ve been able to give pictures to many family who don’t have a picture of some of their relatives or ancestors. Digital – YES Destroy NO, NO, NO

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Dick, please address the fundamental issues for us old timers: how in the world do we organize the digital files? I started doing as you say and now I can’t find anything…where is the tutorial about how to do this on either a computer or a thumb drive? and what about now losing track of all the thumb drives and other digital devices? Your solution is not quite as easy as it sounds….I bought a scanner but the instructions do not tell me how to scan to a thumb drive, for example. Organizing data is not merely an issue of paper vs electronic, the fundamental problems (classification, labelling, access) remain the same.

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    —> how in the world do we organize the digital files?

    Your computer will do that for you better than you can ever do. I suggest that everyone stop worrying about how to organize and let the various software products available today do the organizing for you.

    —> I started doing as you say and now I can’t find anything…

    I guess I don’t understand. There are several excellent note taking and file saving products available today. I normally use Evernote but there are others available as well. In Evernote, and in most of the others, I open Evernote and in the search box I enter my great-great-grandfather’s name:

    Washington Harvey Eastman

    Within one second, a list of EVERY note and document I have that contains his name appears on my screen. I click on any item in the list and the note or the complete document appears on my screen. What’s to organize?

    All this happens without my organizing or even thinking about file names or organizational methods. I presently have about 3,500 files and notes in Evernote but the same process will work even if I have 35,000 or probably with 350,000 file4s and notes. The computer does the organizing, I don’t.

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    Hi DIck,

    I know her problems and my opinion is that we do not “think” like a computer – they computer may want to file John Doe one way and the user would file under the town name where he lived or close relatives – who knows but the user would look in a different place.
    to try to get every person alive to think the same way in lock-step with a very few powerful people and that is very close to a Global Dicatorship. I sometime think that is the purpose.

    Barbara in MA

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In a way I agree with you. HOWEVER – and that’s a big however! – it is necessary to keep up with technology (which is growing faster than ever.) For instance, I have several thumb drives filled with documents – in MS Word 2008. Suddenly that program has disappeared from my computer (courtesy of MicroSoft) and thus the documents will not translate to MSWord 2011 or 12. This has happened before. Therefore – for things I really want to keep it’s paper for me!

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    There are dozens of other programs that will correctly read your Microsoft Word files, even older files or new files. You can use any of them to recover everything on those thumb drives. Many of them are available free of charge. Some do not even need to be installed, such as Google Docs.

    I normally use LibreOffice and love it but I also know you can do the same thing with OpenOffice, Kingsoft Writer, Google Docs, Zoho Docs, IBM Lotus Symphony, Apple Pages, Wordperfect, AbiWord or any of a few dozen others.

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I am in the process of printing every document I own that traces my ancestors by name. Computer is fine. For me. I didn’t start genealogy until I was 64 years old. I had nothing, not even a grandparent’s name, to start with. Some of my ancestors were hiding very well so when I did find them, I was ecstatic. I will leave a box or two of paper. No one in my family is interested in genealogy right now, but if they would become interested someday, they will have that paper to help them along. I am putting each couple’s important papers in an envelope, labeled, and stored in a box. I’m printing census and that sort of thing to file with it. My computer with all the scanned documents? Where will that be? I want to hold the paper in my hand, especially the old documents. If the time comes when someone else wants to take up where I left off, will they get excited about a paper copy of a marriage license or would they surf through a thumb drive to see what’s on it before they throw it away? We are history right now. I won’t be so short sighted as to throw it away. I have written and I’m in the process of writing more family stories. That’s something my family is interested in. My hope is that the stories have sparked enough interest that the box of paper will be saved. When the day comes that I don’t have enough space to save a cardboard box- – or 3, I will find someone who has enough space.

Paper? YES. It costs me nothing to save paper covered with words about my family. Digitize and throw away the original? NEVER. Some of the best clues I own are 3 pages found at the local dump by my father many, many years ago before we knew anything about those people. If he wouldn’t have saved them and my sister wouldn’t have found them and saved them (not even knowing who they were), I would not have had that handwritten information to search with. Even if I don’t use acid free paper my notes will last a long, long time. Imagine 50 or 100 years from now someone being able to read those pages. How many more generations will be added between now and then? And my computer files? Hmmm. Will they still exist? Who will take care of those? Who will make sure they get updated to new technology? I can’t even remember to change my furnace filter. And it’s MY furnace in my house! I’ve made arrangements for a friend to send a mass email announcing my death to a group of my friends and for my computers to be wiped after I die.

My first experience with scanned documents came at the courthouse. Sometime before 1970 everything was scanned and the books burned. That microfilm is so awful it’s almost impossible to read it. I built a light box and did photoshop tricks with my printed copies to try to read them. Now what? How will they ever be used in the future if they were that bad 5 years ago? Not only were documents lost in flood and fire, they’ve been destroyed after microfilming. And the films that survive are useless. Shortsighted. There is no other word for it.

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    I don’t know what happened just now – I had written part of my reply and all of a sudden it is gone!!!! It couldn’t have happened at a better time, it proves that paper is better, If I had been writing on paper, and it disappeared, I would be looking on the floor to see where it landed, but I have to start all over.

    I agree that paper is best, I have documents written in pencil and dip-pen ink and they are still readable and in good condition. We used to call the pens,”scratch pens”. Just thinking about them takes me back to third grade when we learned how to use them. The screwed to the floor desks had ink wells. If we “scratched” the paper it would send ink spatter all over the paper and we had to begin again but every child learned how to use it. The children today can’t even hold a pencil correctly. They grasp it as if it was a tiger’s tail in fear of it getting away.and biting them.
    A cold hard electronic device can’t come anywhere near the pleasure of holding a paper book.

    Give me paper any day.

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Here’s my answer: Where are the records now that you once stored on floppy disks? Probably within 10 years the technology we have now will be gone, and so will all the records that were transferred to it before the paper copies were shredded or burned. I called a city recently that had torn down an 1846 courthouse where I frequently did research. No one there could tell me where the historical records are now. I would guess that a city that would throw out a beautiful historic building also has thrown out birth, marriage, and death certificates, land records, etc., before a certain date. So go right ahead, tell us about your “paperless'” world. I will just grieve for you.

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    —> Where are the records now that you once stored on floppy disks?

    I cannot answer for everyone, but in my case the floppy disks were copied to CD-ROM disks many years ago. A few years later, they were copied to DVD-ROM disks. Starting about 3 or 4 years ago, I copied all those disks back to my primary computer’s hard drive (now that we have huge story capacities even on the cheaper computers) and then that was automatically backed up to Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon Glacier, and to a few flash drives. When a new storage method comes along in the future, I expect to copy the data once again to the new devices.

    I still have all the data that is worth keeping from my old floppy disks written 30 years ago and have multiple copies, stored in different locations for safety’s sake. I believe that is safer than keeping ONE COPY of paper in once location where it is exposed to fires, floods, burst water pipes, and a myriad of other problems. If it is worth saving, I believe that copies of it must be saved in multiple locations. That is true of paper as well as electronic copies.

    I threw out most of the paper years ago, except for a few items that are worth keeping for sentimental reasons. Paper is very fragile and is easily destroyed for many different reasons.

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Hi Dick,
I can appreciate the way you back all those records regularly. It is your business to do that. W, out here, have other things we have to do work and other such things, and we are unable to spend all that time . The time we have, we like to use for research.
I am willing to put stacks of paper in a box and shove it under the bed – literally.

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—> I can appreciate the way you back all those records regularly. It is your business to do that.

Agreed. I spend an average of 30 minutes per year doing that. Actually, I may go six or eight years with doing nothing. The backups are made automatically for me and the change to new storage technology only happens about once every six or eight years, maybe longer. As a result, in most years there is nothing for me to do to preserve the data; it has already been preserved. After some number of years, once there has been a change in storage technology, I might spend three or four hours copying all the old stuff over to the new storage device(s).

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    :}:
    I would get myself in such a mess I would need to hire my computer guy to come to bail me out!. I can mess it up to unusable in less than 30 minutes.
    My hands are unable to do the things I want. They are very undependable – the joints don’t work well.

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