2023.11.01 – Record Preservation


By Dale E. Lee,
Copyright (c), 2023

The following may be able to help avoid confusion on how to address the collection and storage of Family History records. Family History records can be of many different kinds and media. Each kind of record and kind of media may need to be handled differently.

The following are some of the kinds of records and media to look for when attempting to collect Family History records: certificates, xerox copies of records, handwritten copies of records, Family Group Sheets, Pedigree Charts, family histories, personal histories, pictures, slides, cassette tapes, videos, etc. Be careful not to omit one of these types because you didn’t think they had to do with Family History. For example, your current family pictures may become important to your Grandchildren in the future and you should indicate, on the back, the names of the people in picture.

As you collect family records, be careful to process them properly.

  • Collect as many different types or records as you can think of.
  • Organize the documents by type of record so they can be easily accessed after organization.
  • Digitize images of the documents as a means of backing them up in case of accidental or deliberate destruction.
  • Transcribe the records into the computer if they are not already in text format. Once they have been transcribed into text format, it is easier for the computer to process them.
  • Store them in the computer. While you transcribe the document text, you’ll probably store it in a computer file. However, if the document is a certificate, you may also want to extract specific information into a desktop or web app (such as RootsMagic or FamilySearch). This allows you to keep that information available for quick access by individual.
  • As you store the information, you may also be able to relate individuals to each other, but this is not necessarily the case. You may need to store the information by individual and go back later and relate individuals to each other as you discover how they are related.

The above information is shown in spreadsheet format below, allowing you to visualize the types of records to collect and what you’ll do with them after collection. You can enter the dates of each of the collection activities in the cell at the intersection of each as you complete them.

Paper Records

– Certificates

– Xerox copies of records

– Handwritten copies of records

– Family Group Sheets

– Pedigree Charts

– Family Histories

– Personal Histories


– Paper Pictures

– Slides

Analog Records

– Cassettes

– Videos

Dale E. Lee

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