Rescue Mission: 4-Step Plan for Preserving Family Bible Records

In your genealogy work, are you looking to give back to the community? Are you willing to pitch in and help preserve original family history records?

Why not help rescue old Family Bibles, by digitally scanning them and putting them online?

National and local genealogical societies, libraries, and individuals have all worked at this.

It’s time for us to do more to preserve our family records. We have all the modern tools—let’s do this.

Here is a genealogy preservation project that you can tackle yourself or accomplish as a group: a rescue effort that genealogical societies should start working on with renewed effort—today!

photo of a Family Bible

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

Today’s families are often overwhelmed with caring for the accumulation of so many things gathered over a lifetime. Our elderly friends and relatives are leaving behind important family records as they downsize, move into assisted living, or pass away.

Modern families have to make quick decisions about which records and items are valuable and which can be given to Goodwill.

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Family Bibles can range from oversized, heavy tomes that are protected with large brass clasps, to slightly smaller versions—that can be nearly as heavy—and all are worn with age. Today’s families just might not be aware that these old copies of the “Good Book” likely contain more than the old gospel messages: each might contain a firsthand, handwritten account of their family’s genealogy.

Often these old Family Bibles have records from the 1700s to the 20th Century. Information that might not be easily found anywhere else.

Let’s get the word out and let everyone know just how valuable the family history information in these old Bibles really is.

4-Step Family Bible Rescue Mission Plan

1) Reach out through your clubs, churches and to your neighbors. Use social media, radio talk shows and events at your public library to promote your “rescue effort.”

2) Arrange with your local public library to host a “Scan It Night,” and encourage local residents to bring in their Family Bibles so that the information can be scanned, put online and preserved.

3) Scan the Family Bibles to create digital copies. Use your ingenuity to see what you can accomplish. Here’s one approach:

  • Scan the front and back of the two title pages found in most old Bibles: at the front and at the New Testament.
  • Scan all of the family registry pages, including the blank pages. That way future researchers will know you didn’t miss a page.
  • Then transcribe and type up the family information.

4) Put the digitized Family Bible records online to preserve them and make them easy to find.

  • Add the scanned pages to the online family tree sites—that way the information is permanently linked to the person.
  • Put the images on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, or Flickr.
  • Create your own blog and put this information online.
  • Assemble the images and your transcription in a Word document, save it as a PDF file, and upload it to the free site Scribd.com.

There are many approaches that you can take to make sure your family’s past is preserved for future generations. Find the best one for you.

These old family records need to be preserved.

Let’s each do what we can to make sure these old genealogy records are not lost.

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Written by Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history.

He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for 47 years. With the rapidly growing online archives at GenealogyBank – it is a great day for genealogy!

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About Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history. He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for 47 years. With the rapidly growing online archives at GenealogyBank – it is a great day for genealogy!

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