Continuing The Tradition
What happens to the family records when the genealogist dies?
The valuable research done by the genealogist should not be lost when that person "goes to join his or her ancestors." It is important to continue the tradition!
In some families, there is more than one family member interested in genealogy. That means there is someone else to receive the informational treasure trove, preserve it, continue the research, increase the collection of facts and collaborating proof, and disseminate the information to family members and other interested parties. Unfortunately, in other families, there is no one to assume these responsibilities.
Genealogists and family historians are strongly urged to make provisions for the bequest and maintenance of their genealogical records. This should take the form of a provision in one's will. Make certain that you have a will, and that you name an individual, organization, or archive as a beneficiary to receive your materials. Don't make the assumption, though, that one of these is willing to accept your collection without talking to them first. And please be aware that a financial endowment of some sort for the maintenance and/or storage of the materials may also be needed for organizations like archives.
Perhaps you are the end of your family line. It is irrelevant whether your family was influential in the community or ordinary citizens. If your materials describe people's lives in context of a specific time, document historical information, and paint a picture of life in the community, there is value to having your materials become part of some collection. A public or genealogical library may welcome the bequest; the local, county or state genealogical or historical society also may be interested in accepting your collection. Check with your proposed beneficiary before you write or change your will. Understand what would be required or expected.
We all want a part of ourselves to be perpetuated after we're gone. As genealogists, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our communities to insure that the results of our long and thorough labors are not lost.
I urge genealogists to make certain that they have arranged for the proper placement of their materials after they're gone. Remember how hard it was for us to locate materials? Make it easier for future generations.
George G. Morgan
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