Sunday, May 1, 2011

Portable Genealogy

Through the splendiferousness of technology, we can carry our ancestors with us wherever we go.

Credit: Eprintable calendars

My mother, over the course of many years, pieced together a genealogical record of her parents' history that goes back to France in the 15th century. She did this with the help of her parents, aunts and uncles, close and distant cousins, libraries near and far, church records, and newspapers -- all before there was a world wide web. She personally traveled to libraries or churches in San Francisco, Quebec, and Rouen.

Credit: Genealogy.about
When she finally called it done, she made numerous photocopies of her work and distributed it to her siblings and children. 

A few years back, she gave me her original work. When I decided to go rootless, I had to do something with this treasure.

Here's what I did:

  1. Scanned it all - every document, photo, clipping, even incomplete scratchings on slips of paper.
  2. Found new genealogical information that came online since the time my mother completed her work.  
  3. Gathered old family letters that various family members (including myself) had kept, and scanned them, too. 
  4. Created a Google Documents account to house the archive online. Note: If you do this, create a Google account that is independent of your personal accounts, i.e., the account. This makes a future "owner" transfer from one family custodian to another clean and easy.  
  5. Spent a whopping 5 bucks to add a huge amount of space to the free account. 
  6. Uploaded everything onto the Google Documents.
  7. Set permissions for family members' online access to the archive (e.g. "view"permission or "edit" permission).
  8. Solicited new material from family members to add to the archive, including recent documents that tell our family's story as it continues to unfold.
  9. Organized the originals into page protectors and binders, then returned it to my mother's care with a clean conscience.

The virtual archive is on my hard drive, on Google Documents, on a flash drive and on another virtual storage account.

How cool it is for the next generation to pull up the virtual copy of a handwritten love letter between their great-great grandparents!

Credit: Best Scholarship Information

Two excellent genealogical resources in the U.S.:

  • Missouri is one of the rare states with birth, death, probate, and military records online (and FREE) here.
  • The Church of the Latter-Day Saints offers access to its massive archive, at no charge, through Family Search.

No comments: