Archiving Your Digital Family History Files: Introduction (#1)

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  • You have some files on your computer that have a weird or outdated file format, and you aren’t able to open them, or it says the files are corrupted and can’t be opened.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 (#1)”

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…

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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…”

Andrew Kaiser, tinner and tinker

East Lincoln Highway (1912)
This photo shows East Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL in 1912 from Seventh Street looking West. Andrew Kaiser operated his tinning shop at 622 E. Lincoln Hwy at this time. In this photo, his shop was located in the building near the car parked on the left side of the road, in the two-story building with the large sign that says “Drugs.” (Image source: NIU Digital Archives, Ritzman photo collection.)

For over 30 years, the Kaiser family ran a successful sheet metal shop in DeKalb, IL. (I wrote about the later years of this shop in this earlier post!) Andrew Kaiser and his two youngest sons operated the shop, but the family’s history in tinsmithing didn’t start in DeKalb. The patriarch of the family, Andrew Kaiser, had been a tinner and metal worker for nearly his whole life, and his career lasted for over 50 years. His long career even includes some exciting surprises! Continue reading “Andrew Kaiser, tinner and tinker”

Family History at the Library

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My love of reading started young, and was probably influenced by the many teachers in my family, and my aunt who was a librarian.

I have always been a ferocious reader, and always interested in the past. My interest in literature, history, public service, and genealogy has led to a career as a librarian. Last year I completed my MSLIS, but my family’s connection to libraries does not start there! Continue reading “Family History at the Library”