If You Don’t Put It Online – Your Descendants Will Not Find It!

With the New Year now started, here’s a genealogy resolution you can keep in 2016: preserve your family history records online so that future generations can find them. Take your records – prepare now to begin scanning them and putting them online.

photo of a letter from Maxine Lacy

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

Bottom line: “If You Don’t Put It Online – Your Descendants Will Not Find It!”

photo of a letter from Maxine Lacy

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

It is that simple.

That is the central message of the online lecture that I gave Friday, November 13th.

Click here to listen to my webinar Bringing It All Together and Leaving a Permanent Record.

Whether you’ve been researching your family history for 5 years – 15 years – or perhaps even 50 years – your search skills have improved year after year.

Now is the time to thoroughly review your research conclusions. You want to review and evaluate each person in your family tree. Reconfirm the dates/places of their vital events and upload their photos, stories and documents. Make sure that each person’s record is accurate and that all of your notes are attached.

Put that information online. Now.

Review and rebuild your tree – putting it on multiple websites so that you have double or triple the online backup, widely distributing your information so that your non-genealogist family members can easily find what you spent years discovering.

Put your stories and family photos on multiple websites like:

Facebook

screenshot of a Facebook page showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: Facebook

Pinterest

screenshot of a Pinterest board showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: Pinterest

FamilySearch

screenshot of a FamilySearch page showing a recipe for chocolate cake

Source: FamilySearch

Listen to the webinar to learn how to review and prepare your data so that you can leave it – permanently – on multiple websites. For the upcoming New Year, resolve to make sure your data is available for your family into the rising generation.

Related Articles:

 

Start Saving Those Family Photos & Stories – Now – One at a Time!

So, you’ve been researching and documenting your family history for a few years now and have a long list of places to visit and facts to track down.

Where should you start? What are the most important things that you should do first?

For me, the two most urgent items that you should act on – now – are: 1) scanning all of your old family photos; and 2) finding & writing down your family stories.

photo of an old photograph being scanned

Source: FamilySearch.org

Why? Because these are in your control.

Global services like GenealogyBank and FamilySearch are putting millions of original records online. They are there ready for you 24/7 as you have time to do the research.

What is not online – and not preserved – are your old family photos and stories.

Family Photos

Your old family photos are unique to you. You might have the only surviving copy of that photo – and only you can identify the people in the image, provide the context, and tell why they are important to your family’s history.

Genealogy Tip: Organize yourself and decide to scan and upload a few photos every day. Maybe it’s three per day – maybe you can do more. You decide, and go to work.

Family Stories

You know the stories: start now to write them down.

Here’s a tip: pace yourself. Write down one story at a time.

I was talking with my brother over the weekend and he mentioned the time when we were both stationed in the Navy on the USS Albert T. Harris in the 1960s. As we talked the memories came back. After we spoke I took a moment to grab a photo of that ship from Wikipedia and write up a brief story of our memories of that experience while they were fresh in my mind – just a few paragraphs.

photo of the USS Albert T. Harris (DE-447)

Photo: USS Albert T. Harris (DE-447). Source: Wikipedia.

Looking at the old photo of the ship brought back memories of being on board and the experiences we had. I was surprised to learn from Wikipedia that the ship was decommissioned in 1968 and destroyed in 1969.

Now I had one more story written down.

I didn’t try to write the entire story of everyone in the family all at once. But I am finding that by writing one piece of the story at a time, I am painlessly pulling together a more complete family history.

Over months of now and again writing up each story, I am in fact pulling together what will become our family history.

There are family stories that I don’t know – but I am finding those in the old newspapers in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Time and time again I’ve found a piece here and a piece there to pull together our family history over the past 300 years.

montage of family history records

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

What details are in the obituaries of my relatives; in their wedding announcements? Newspapers covered every day of their lives: the milestone dates they celebrated and all of the days in between.

I have learned so much about the family – and used each newspaper clipping to generate the “story” that goes with it. Carefully sift through the newspapers and find the articles about your family.

By using the old newspaper articles and old family photos to trigger your memories, you can pace yourself and write up your family’s stories – one episode at a time.

Start now and soon you’ll be surprised at just how complete and interesting your family history is.

Related Articles:

Genealogy Research: Conquering Your File Cabinets

Here’s a tip for you.
I have five multi-drawer file cabinets packed with correspondence and genealogical notes gathered over the past 50 years.

Keeping this old genealogical correspondence in just one spot means that I am the only one with access to it. I decided that it’s time to get it online and, where appropriate, available to everyone.

photo of genealogy correspondence

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

I want to make the change from paper files to online files – and where possible, to go paperless.

Where to start?
I started with the first file drawer – evaluating the files, one folder at a time.

Looking at the information I quickly decided on a few guidelines:

  • Only post material of lasting value
  • Don’t post correspondence from living people
  • Don’t post notes, data about living people

Online family tree sites let you post scanned items as photographs and as PDF documents. So – I can scan and post a one-page letter as a JPEG file, or – if I have multiple pages – I can scan and save them all in one file as a PDF document.

photo of a genealogy letter

Source: Thomas Jay Kemp

I can take that compact PDF file and add it to my online family tree, attaching it to the person who wrote the letter to me as well as to the historical persons mentioned in the correspondence.

screenshot of a genealogy letter online

Source: FamilySearch.org

That correspondence is now preserved and is instantly discoverable by me and by anyone else researching the same family lines.

Once I have the file scanned – and online – I can then decide if I need to keep the original paper copy or if I can opt to go paperless and toss the paper copy.

Genealogy Tip: Put your old family history notes online – preserve them and make them available to others. You’ll be glad you did.

Related Articles:

How to Scan, Save & Share Your Family Photographs Online

The digital age is a new world for genealogists. We need to have not only research skills but the ability to scan and digitally preserve the many documents and photographs that we use daily.

This gives us the 21st century opportunity to add the actual genealogical documents and even photographs of our deceased relatives to our family tree software on our personal computers, or on an online family tree.

This online sharing of genealogy work enables anyone—be it family members or other researchers—to easily see your family history findings and the supporting documentation instantly.

Yes—it is a great day for genealogy!

Scanning to Digitize Your Family Photos

Scanning is easy and a home scanner can be purchased for a nominal cost at most stores. Copy centers and even drug stores routinely offer scanning services often for just $1 per image.

You are scanning and preserving your family’s past so you’ll want to make sure you do it correctly. Start by reading Geoff Rasmussen’s book Digital Imaging Essentials (Middleton, Idaho: Author, 2013). 150 pages.

cover of book "Digital Imaging Essentials" by Geoff Rasmussen

This easy-to-read instructional book tells you everything you need to do to prepare and follow through on digitizing and preserving your family’s documentation. To buy a copy visit the Legacy Family Tree Book store.

Scanning is as simple as putting the old photograph or document on your scanner and pushing the start button.

screenshot of a scanner in operation

Within seconds the image is scanned and sent to your photo image processing software.

I use Google’s Picasa. It is free and has all of the features I need to crop, trim, sharpen and enhance my scanned document or photograph. Within a few minutes I have a digital copy of the item ready to be attached to my genealogical files.

Backup & Storage of Family Files

I keep three copies of my genealogical files.

This redundancy builds in an ongoing backup of my research in three locations, and helps to ensure that my latest research will be easily discoverable by any of my cousins 24/7.

I store my genealogy information—along with the digital copies of my photographs and documents—online on FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com. In addition, I keep a copy on my laptop using Legacy Family Tree genealogy software. I have an external hard drive to back up my laptop and I also use the online cloud storage service Carbonite. There are many options for cloud storage available to ensure that your family history records stay safe even if something ever happens to your local hardware.

Upload and Share Your Family Photos & Records Online

It is easy to put your family pictures and records online. Here is how you do it on FamilySearch.

First you open the personal page of any relative.

screenshot of the ad photo feature on FamilySearch

Credit: FamilySearch

Click on the Photos tab and you will see the green add symbol. Click on it to add a photograph for this person.

screenshot of the attach photos feature on FamilySearch

Credit: FamilySearch

Simply drag and drop the family photo you scanned to this plus sign and the application will grab it and attach it.

Take a moment to edit your family photograph by identifying each person.

You can add the date and place the photo was taken and any commentary associated with that event.

screenshot of the edit photos feature on FamilySearch

Credit: FamilySearch

That’s it—you’re done.

screenshot of FamilySearch page for Tuan Dieu Ly

Credit: FamilySearch

It’s that simple to preserve your family photos and make them easy to share online with family members and other genealogists.

It is important that genealogists preserve their family information online. By putting their genealogy research and supporting documentation online, genealogists are able to share it with all researchers.

Begin preserving your family’s past by digitizing your research and putting it online today.