I’ve had maintenance on the mind this summer. So many friends and family are dealing with problems that are largely a result of lack of maintenance. It’s made me think how easy it is to lose all our gains, simply because we don’t do the day-to-day and month-to-month maintenance projects.
- Why am I doing massive fence repairs in July?
- How’d we regain all this weight?
- How did the sewer line break?
It goes on and on. So while I work on projects and have to set aside my family history, I’m assessing what are the maintenance essentials for genealogy in my home.
We made some incredible family history gains last year, digitizing everything (photos, papers, cassette tapes) for my side of the family and we’re close to finishing this for Mike’s side of the family. I can’t afford to lose these gains. Here are some ideas for projects we need to either start, finish, or maintain.
Some Family History Maintenance Ideas
Here’s a bullet list of ideas for projects we can tackle, in small or large bites, to stay on top of our genealogy projects.
Printed (analog) Photos
- Get them all in one place to see what you have
- Get them off the floor, out of heat, away from water & other damage
- Sort these and make plans to start digitizing them: Read my To Do List Before You Scan and Fee or Free Photo Scanning
- Identify people in photos
- Prep them to give the original away
- Prep some to display
- Get all the digital photos in one place
- Create a backup plan for your digital photos (and other digital files)
Consider when you need to purchase new digital storage devices (it’s not if, but when your hard drive will fail–BackBlaze at RootsTech)
- Check out the Association of Professional Photo Organizers, every September is Save Your Photos month and they have free tutorials; here’s one link to free resources
- Cull the photos on your phone/devices–I could do this daily
- Research a digital organization plan (see OrganizingPhotos.net by Caroline Guntur)
- Start labeling a few photos, telling the stories of the photos (metadata), I was so excited to start 2 years ago and still haven’t done this!
- Get help identifying people & places in photos
- Join a Photo Organization to stay on top of the latest technology
Printed genealogy notes/paperwork
- Get all your notes in one place
- Sort and organize, one pile at a time
- Make plans to digitize your notes, Read my To Do List Before You Scan
Emails & Text Messages
- print your genealogy emails or copy them to digitized files
- save important text messages, etc, read How to Preserve Your Memories from Your Mobile Devices
- get rid of junk genealogy emails
- respond to genealogy emails
- Be Social! Call some older relatives & ask them family history questions, get their stories, have them help identify people in old photos
- Connect with family! Call siblings and get their stories, family history memories, ask for help identifying anyone in photos
- Here are several blogs to give you ideas:
- Sort your family treasures & make plans to record stories about what each item is & why someone kept it
- Collect old family recipes and make a plan to digitize/scan them
- Pull out old cassette tapes and make a plan to digitize them
- Print your family tree in a displayable chart
- Make a plan to give away meaningful momentos & declutter or rehome items you no longer need
- Go through your home as if you were planning to downsize and decide which items you’ve collected and tell their stories and ask family if anyone would like these items when you’re ready to give them away.
Price genealogy supplies
- Spend time online pricing new external hard drives or other digital equipment necessary to preserve your items (it’s not if, but when your hard drive will fail–BackBlaze at RootsTech)
- Price archival storage boxes/paper for the items you want to keep
- Make yourself a Holiday or Birthday wishlist you can share when someone asks what gift they might buy you (Amazon.com has Wishlists you can share with family/friends)
Sort your books
- Get all your books in one place and plan to catalog them so you’ll know what you own & don’t make a duplicate purchase
- Read How to Organize Your Personal Library in 8 Easy Steps
- Decide which books you’d like to add to your collection
Consolidate your family history
- Try to keep like things in the same place, all your printed photos together, all your family history books together, etc
- Do a quick run through and label and explain your organization so someone can take over if you die (even if you don’t have time to do the work, organize it and explain what’s been done)
Tell your own story
- Spend a little time each day writing about a life event
- Read my blog, Writing Your Personal History with tons of links to sites and tools or How to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing Your Personal History
- If possible, find photos to go along with each story
- Gather old calendars or journals you can use to create a timeline for your life
- Take photos or scans of your calendars and journals and then consider tossing the originals (genealogists save way too much IMO). If you’re saving it so you can use it someday, make that someday come sooner vs. later.
Visit your genealogy membership sites
- Check your account at Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, etc and:
- look for any messages from other site members (I laugh regularly at the angry posts on Facebook groups by paid site members who want to know why no one responds to their messages–I often have a message I should respond to)
- reply to any messages from other site members
- print your updated ethnicity report
- check out updates to new features (New Theories of Family Relativity at MyHeritage? New ThruLines at Ancestry?)
- choose a family line and add more sourcing to that family tree (start with a parent/grandparent and verify you’re following the intended family line–DNA matches are an eye-opener and you can choose to trace your genetic family or the family that raised you, but know which one you’re tracing)
- create a list of accounts you pay for and when each account renews and at what price it renews
- Take advantage of genealogy education & conferences/conventions
- Visit your local libraries & learn what family history books & scanning resources they have, read How to Use Your Public Library for Genealogy Research
- Join online Genealogy groups:Katherine Willson’s Genealogy Facebook groups
- Genealogy societies, try the Virtual Genealogy Society
- Genealogy Pinterest boards, some fun Pinterest accounts to follow include Lisa Lisson, Bespoke Genealogy, & Family History Fanatics
- Genealogy Twitter accounts–see the OnGenealogy Twitter lists, etc
If you’re like me, and summer is your time to maintain, not make headway, then best with your family history maintenance projects! Here’s a pinnable image to save these ideas for future reference! Please follow any of the OnGenealogy Pinterest Boards to get tips from other genealogists.