Re: I Want My Trees To Outlive Me #general

Erika Gottfried

Peter, I could not agree with you more, and you've described this problem so well and succinctly.  

My experience as archivist for a special historical collection for more than three decades completely bears out your too-valid fears about preservation of digital data.  Entire databases I created using mainstream software are no longer accessible or readable.  And I've seen online data disappear. This is what keeps me up at night (or used to before the pandemic became my number one worry).  The digital dark ages is a threat to more than genealogical data.

I'm also with you about keeping genealogical information and family histories online and/or in digital form as well as on paper.

My own question, though, is -- how best to preserve genealogies and family history in print when most of the data you've gathered has been stored either online and/or on your computer within a software program?  I think that's situation that many, if not most of us, are facing. Most of the data I've collected, for example, I've stored in Family Treemaker.   FTM does have a report format, but its reports don't appear contain all of the information that I've saved into FTM, and I would like to retain every bit of that information that I can.  And converting that information into a formal book is a daunting prospect.  Also, I would want to be able to update the information easily and as often as necessary (I'm envisioning an annual or semi-annual print out) so my descendants would have the most recent data I had available--but a book is static.

What would be the best way to preserve all of the data in print that would be efficient and clear, but not as a book? Something serviceable, but not necessarily smooth and pretty!  (This foregoing is another thing that has keep me up at night!) Any advice from you or anyone else on this question would be welcome.  

Re electronic genealogies, I believe that Family Search would be the best bet for attempting to preserve genealogies digitally because of its institutional affiliation with the Mormon church.  The Church has been, and I think is likely to continue to be a more stable entity than any online company--commercial companies come and go, but major religions tend to stick around longer.   Also, because of genealogy's central role in Mormonism the motivation for making sure the data is protected and continues to be available and accessible is greater than that of commercial enterprises.

Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey

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