Genealogists: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Future. Have a Plan for Bequeathing Your Research.

COVID-19 has opened up a lot of time to do research but it also creates time to wonder about my research and what would happen to it I I wasn’t here.

I don’t know about you, but I look at a lot of death records. I also go looking for wills and find so many people who didn’t have a will when they died suddenly and an administrator was appointed to liquidate their estate. I’m talking 60 and 70 and 80 year-olds who should have had a will but apparently thought they were immortal. My own legacy are several boxes of genealogy notes and documents that I wouldn’t want to disappear if I were suddenly taken ill or worse.

I have 3 simple things I’ve done to make things simple for whoever would have to clean up my genealogy hoard.

Gather it all into one place.

I’ve cleared out my parents house and my in-laws after their deaths. The one frustrating thing about both (and they were in two different countries!) was that everything was everywhere. So gather up all your notes, documents, trees, etc. Put them in a box or boxes in one spot. This doesn’t have to be pretty just together. I know you can do this– BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE RIGHT NOW.

Decide where it should go when you go.

If you’ve done any research you’ve probably run into library collections that archive a persons papers. These are often everyday records like grocery receipts, letters, etc. So if you don’t have a trusted relative you’d like them to go to, pick a university library, your town’s library, or your local historical society (one of my cousins donated all of her paintings of local sites to the town’s historical society). Now throw in a couple letters, a diary, and some other artifacts you’ve been keeping and you’ve become a benefactor!

Label the box(es).

Creating a label so your loved ones know what to with a box or boxes is important. Often people are in a hurry to clean out a living space or overwhelmed by the amount of clearing that must be done– that’s when things go into a dumpster! I’ve created a label for my boxes and I’m sharing it with you in case you’d like to use it. (Box Label – pdf)

It’s a terrible thing that we have to think of these things at the present time, but it’s a good thing to prepare so our valuable research isn’t lost for future researchers.

Category: Tennessee Pryors