NOTE: I recently published an article with the title of Converting My Personal Library to Digital at https://blog.eogn.com/2020/04/15/converting-my-personal-library-to-digital/. A newsletter reader posted a comment at the end of the article asking which method(s) I use of keeping my own family tree information safe and available. I decided to create a new article here with my answer in the hope that other genealogists who read the article will be inspired to do something similar.
What do I use and recommend?
Two words: “multiple means.”
I certainly hope that MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Findmypast, Archive.org, and all the other websites will last forever and will keep my information online and visible to the public forever. However, in this ever-changing world of high technology, I doubt that will happen.
Instead of expecting other organizations to preserve my data for me, I make multiple backup copies of my own data and store the copies in multiple places. I have written about this often in this newsletter, so I won’t repeat everything here. Making my own copies gives me confidence that my information will remain available to me FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE.
There is a bigger, long-time issue however: How do I make sure the information is available to other family members after my demise? I don’t have a single, simple answer, but I can describe what I do: I make sure that as many of my relatives as possible have copies.
I doubt if all my relatives will care about our family tree. Some of them undoubtedly will throw the information away. What I am betting, however, is that quite a few of my relatives will keep the information and preserve it. I suspect one or two or maybe more relatives will even copy it and make everything publicly available on whatever technology replaces the World Wide Web in the future. They may simply copy what I supplied, or (hopefully) they will copy it to newer and better formats and even update and improve the information and the source citations I offered. Then at least a few of these relatives will pass the updated information on to other relatives at that time.
Earlier this week, I discovered an online family tree that seemed to include all of my family tree, including both my father’s and my mother’s families. It was amazing: there was all the same information I had spent years collecting. Somebody else had collected the same information and all of it seemed to agree with mine!
Then I noticed the name of the person who uploaded it to the genealogy web site: it is the name of my grandniece. Apparently, she obtained the printed information I had given her mother many years ago and laboriously re-entered everything by hand into some genealogy program. Her information did not include my newer discoveries found in recent years, but that is easily resolved if I send updates to her and to her mother as well.
When reading my grandniece’s uploaded data, I smiled. It is a great example of how sharing information with multiple relatives allows the information to be handed down to later generations.
Is this guaranteed to preserve my information forever? No! Nothing is ever guaranteed. But I suspect this idea of sharing everything with everybody will greatly increase the odds of preservation.