Worthy of being passed on...

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Worthy of being passed on...

Postby bimjim » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:17 pm

From someone on one of the email mailing lists... well worth repeating in the glaring lack of records in some corners of our islands.

Hello, everyone,

I've had some recent experiences that inspire me to remind everyone to be sure to specifically designate someone to receive your genealogy database, passwords, and papers when you pass on. Also, please be mindful of leaving your papers to a smaller historical society or educational institution -- not because they aren't genuinely wonderful, but because no one coming after you might think to look there.

Best of all, have copies made and lodge them with several organizations, including state archives (if they will accept them). If you're using a database, scary as it is, you may want to print out reports an have them bound at your local office supply store. This is because we know -- we do know this -- that computer programs change (Know anyone who can read Wang software on 5-1/4 floppies?)

Something else I've thought about recently: Should you know the physical whereabouts of any church ledgers, esp. from the Caribbean, it would be good if you'd share that info with others. Perhaps have it read into the church minutes or published in a newsletter or the most recent church history.

Recently, I have seen several instances where church ledgers were transcribed in the 1930s and 1940s but have since utterly disappeared -- and no microfilm exists. I keep getting the same answer when I query the churches: "We don't know what happened to them." Yet the transcriptions begin with a description of the physical book (large ledger, tattered leather binding), so we know they were in the transcriber's hands in the '30s and '40s.

Even if the records have been transcribed, or microfilmed, it matters a great deal what happens to the original ledgers. These days, we also know that digital photography in many cases can enhance faded ink and uneven handwriting that microfilm cannot capture. So, ask the churches whether they have vaults or where they store their records.

In one case, the church thought their old records had been sent to a historical society, while the historical society though the church had them. In another, a 1784 ledger seems to have been put in a cornerstone! -- but that church building is now gone.

I was sad to learn that after the US National Archives microfilmed all the ship's lists, that NARA destroyed the originals.

So, please, if your church's ledgers have been put in a safety deposit box, or taken home by the church secretary or priest for safekeeping, be sure that a permanent record exists of those whereabouts that younger church members could find.

If the church maintains modern ledgers, then a leaf should be inserted in the modern ledger regarding the whereabouts of the previous ledgers. Even better, perhaps you might be allowed to photograph each page as a help for rising generations.

Just some thoughts today.

Cheers, everyone,
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