Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#2): Organize Your New Digital Archive

This is part three of a five-part blog series about organizing and preserving your digital genealogy files. Read the Introduction here and Step 1 here.

In my previous posts, I discussed why it’s important to organize your digital genealogy files into an archive, and gave you a few pointers for locating all your genealogy files (Step #1). Before you start organizing all these files, you’ll need a place to put them (Step #2). In this step, I’ll show you how to create your new digital Family History Archive, and develop your own organizational system which will hold all your genealogy files. I’ll also show you the organizational system that I use in my Digital Archive.


Create your new Digital Archive

Before we do anything else, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to put your new Family History Archive. You’ll need a physical device to put your digital archive. A good place for your Archive is on your current computer (if there is enough space and if it’s reliable) or an external hard drive that can easily connect to your computer. (Don’t worry about having a place to back it up right now; we’ll get to that in Step #4!) Before you decide, let’s look at the various storage options out there. Continue reading “Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#2): Organize Your New Digital Archive”

Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#1): Find Your Digital “Stuff”

This is part two of a five-part blog series about organizing and preserving your digital genealogy files. Read the introduction here.

I started doing family history research when I was about 10 years old, when most of our research was still very much paper-based. If I had any digital files, they were saved on my parents’ computer. In the years since then, both my dad and I have done genealogy research, and our digital files accumulated on both of our computers, in our emails, on various flash drives, and many other digital locations. I’ve had to develop ways to keep track of both the paper and digital files that we’ve accumulated. Most of my research is now stored digitally. During my library science degree, I took a class in Digital Preservation, and for a class project, decided that it was time to consolidate all of our genealogy “stuff” into one shared Digital Genealogy Archive, and I developed an organizational system to manage it. I now have over 600 GB and 23,000 files (and growing!) in my digital archive. This blog series combines what I’ve learned in my Digital Preservation class about Personal Digital Archiving, and my own lessons learned from creating my own Digital Genealogy Archive. Continue reading “Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#1): Find Your Digital “Stuff””

Archiving Your Digital Family History Files: Introduction

This week is Preservation Week! Many local libraries and archives will have some great preservation events this week, and The Family Curator has highlighted a couple free webinars about preservation that are happening this week. This week I’m also launching this five-part blog series about preserving and archiving your digital family history files. Stay tuned for the next installment coming soon!

Many of us are familiar with the piles of paper that accumulate in our lives as a result of our genealogy research. But what about the “invisible” digital clutter that accumulates while we’re researching? What are you doing to organize and keep track of those digital files?

computer desk electronics indoors
Oh, how many files are downloaded and enter the digital abyss on our computers! Will they ever be found again?

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

  • You know you downloaded your ancestor’s census record from Ancestry, but you don’t know where it went.
  • You have genealogy files spread out across various computers, some are backed up on a hard drive, some have been emailed to yourself, and others could possibly be on this other flash drive…
  • You have some downloaded records on your computer, but you don’t remember why you downloaded them, where they came from, or who they belong to.
  • You took a bunch of photos at a cemetery of your family’s headstones, but you never put them on your computer, and now you don’t know where they are.
  • You have some files on your computer that have a weird or outdated file format, and you aren’t able to open them, or it says the files are corrupted and can’t be opened.
  • Your general “Genealogy” folder on your computer is a huge grab-bag of miscellaneous files, scanned photos, and documents with unrecognizable file names. It takes you a long time to find a file that you need to use.

This five-part, in-depth blog series is going to help you create your own Digital Family History Archive, where you’ll keep all your digital files relating to your family history. I’ll share some steps to take that will help you solve some of the issues that are mentioned above, and will save you time when you’re looking for files that you’ve saved. I’ll focus mainly on kinds of files that are common in your genealogy research, but these techniques could also be applied all your other digital files that are not genealogy related. Continue reading “Archiving Your Digital Family History Files: Introduction”

Ann Lawrence “Summoned” on Easter Sunday, 1927

My 3rd great-grandmother, Ann (Kitely) Lawrence was 92 years old when she passed away on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1927. My grandmother was 3 and a half years old when Ann passed away, and was one of 35 great-grandchildren. Ann sounds like quite a remarkable woman. Much of what I know about her is from her two-page obituary, which is transcribed below. Continue reading “Ann Lawrence “Summoned” on Easter Sunday, 1927″

Each clover is lucky…

George Weil on his front porch, about 1980.

When I was still pretty young, I learned that four-leaf clovers were lucky. As a youngster, I would spend hours crawling through the lush clovers that grew in our backyard to try to find one. (I never did!) One day after yet another fruitless search, my dad told me about the four-leaf clovers that he used to get in the mail from his grandfather, George Weil (1889-1981). He told me this story: Continue reading “Each clover is lucky…”