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11 May 2013

Don't Rely On Your Will

Occasionally I hear genealogists say "my will indicates that my papers are to go to..." and think that they've solved the problem of preservation.

There is a chance they haven't. Libraries and historical societies are not necessarily fond of boxes of unorganized papers and even organized materials that are unwanted and unsolicited may not be utilized or preserved in the way the donor intended. Even if they are wanted, the facility may not have the ability to store and maintain them. And probate judges, executors, and estate administrators are probably more concerned about paying bills, dealing with finances, and settling up property titles.

Consider ways to preserve your materials while you are still alive. We will be mentioning some ways in future tips, but don't think you've done your duty simply because you had a clause about "your genealogy papers" inserted in your will. That might not be enough.


  1. This was just brought up to our Genealogy Club this morning...Needs to be explored MORE, as many DO NOT have children/grandchildren to pass onto. Need to hear more ideas, other than libraries, historical societies....

  2. Looking forward to tips on how/where to send the files and artifacts.

  3. Michael,

    This subject has been a matter of concern for my husband and me. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this topic!

  4. I have just inherited a basement full of "all the genealogy stuff" that my great-grandfather worked a lifetime on. I wouldn't mind hearing ways to organize/put to good use a pile of letters, photographs, and miscellaneous papers (that would fill a four drawer filing cabinet easily), so that it doesn't end up being boxes of "family photos" that no one can identify other than to say it's someone in XX family after I'm gone.

    Needless to say I'm a bit overwhelmed with the honor/burden/treasure I've been handed.

  5. I,too,have no family to take my genealogy research. I was delighted to find Arlene Eakle (http://arleneeakle.com/pages/library.shtml) who has founded the Genealogy Library Center in Tremonton, Utah, which is for housing genealogy research by individuals. She will even personally drive to pick up the collections which are west of the Mississippi.

  6. Always remember to make notes connected to the pictures of who is in it.