Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Search: Paper Or Plastic

Over the past couple of weeks I have been scrambling to find documents and pictures both on my computer and in my files. It seems as though whenever I needed a physical copy I only had it digitally and whenever I needed a digital copy I could only find the physical one. It have just been one of those streaks but it also reminded me of the importance of the need to have family pictures and documents stored both physically and digitally. Simply put, you never know what might happen in the future and you don’t want to be in a position where you find yourself without all the research that you worked so hard to compile.

In my search for certain records and in the stories passed down the family, there are numerous examples of physical photos and files being destroyed by fire, water, or things that have simply vanished. All of these instances happened at a time when the digitization of these records was not possible making their loss permanent. There isn’t a week that goes by when I wonder what information could have been found in those records and the details that we will never have again.

On the other side of the equation. I have gotten to know a number of people in the genealogy community over the past few years and there have been moments when I have spoken to someone who had amassed a massive database of family history which they stored on their computer. Unfortunately, they had not gotten around to printing out all the documents and pictures when their computer crashed. While most of the time it is possible to retrieve the data from the hard drive, in this instance all the records were lost. All they were left with was a few physical pictures and documents here and there… they hadn’t even gotten up to loading everything on Ancestry. It was basically a return to the beginning.

While I am admittedly behind in this endeavor, I am slowly chipping away at syncing my research so that I have digital and physical copies of everything. Note that this includes storage on my computer and on an external hard drive. Once this has been achieved I will begin loading everything onto Ancestry. That’s not to say that I don’t load things to my tree from time to time but there is much more to be shared, more than most people in the family realize. Maybe I will be able to relax once this first big project is done and the ongoing maintenance becomes manageable. However, just stick to remembering the important thing… when someone asks you whether you prefer paper or plastic always pick both.