Published: July 20, 2008
Updated: May 24, 2013 at 09:42 PM
You grab the dog; I'll grab the computer. Until recently, that was our family disaster evacuation plan.I had grown comfortable with the conviction that everything I needed to preserve was on the computer: I've scanned my family photographs; all my research notes and reports are on the computer; all of my lectures and article-writing research are there.But the agony over the records lost in Iowa and other Heartland flooding - and the fact that it's hurricane season in Florida - made me do a reality check of how I'm preserving my personal and client research.I have a zillion paper files and notebooks full of old correspondence (from pre-e-mail days) and copies of so many deeds and wills that I'll be 90 before I find time to scan all of them.Beyond some old photographs and one family Bible, most of the papers consist of copies of original official documents, or copies of original letters and journals distant relatives kept. Most of the items could be replaced if disaster caught me off guard. Nevertheless, I've changed my mind about leaving them behind.So here is the plan I devised: After doing some house (I mean drawer) cleaning, I moved all the files from the metal file cabinets into plastic filing boxes. These are inexpensive, readily available at office supply stores, and easy to grab and toss into the car trunk. I even devised a plan where one color of filing boxes would be priority (first into the car) while another color would be left behind to weather the disaster.Beyond disaster planning, I have another suggestion for those of you fortunate enough to have original letters, journals, old newspaper clippings, deeds and all the family Bibles. They need to be stored correctly throughout the year.Never store those items inside file folders in a metal file cabinet. Original documents should be stored flat, away from sunlight or fluorescent light. Never place rubber bands, paper clips, staples or metal fasteners in the documents. The rubber bands will harden and bond to paper and some fasteners will rust.Photographs should be in enclosures that are free of sulfur, acids and peroxides. Cased photographs such as daguerreotypes and ambrotypes should be stored in their original cases or frames. Documents and photographs then can be placed in acid-free folders or boxes.When disaster looms, place the acid-free storage containers in the large plastic storage bins for quick removal.You may find archival storage products locally in office supply stores, but the best products are available through national distributors such as Archival Products at www .archival.com/productcatalog/index.shtml or Hollinger Corporation at www.genealogical storageproducts.com.You'll have no trouble finding plastic storage bins and crates at office supply or department stores. One container that can do double duty is the Rubbermaid Roughneck file box with extra capacity lid. The lid's capacity allows for vertically storing of three-ring binders.URL ChangeAncestry.com has made some major changes in its Web site. The changes are causing an uproar among subscribers who were comfortable with the old format. Caught up in the changes was my July 6 article that gave directions to Ancestry's "Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers." The directions don't work with the new design. For those of you who have not been able to figure out the new site, try this link for direct access to the maps database: www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/reference/maps/default.aspx.The biggest complaint about the changes is that some databases are hard to find. If you can't find an old favorite, try this link www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/alldblist.aspx. It basically is a card catalog for the site.Another Map SiteTony Campbell read that same column and wrote to pass on another interesting site for maps: www. maphistory.info/ webimages.html. Campbell is the former map librarian at the British Library in London and runs the gateway site for the History of Cartography.Lecture TapesThe 2008 National Genealogical Society conference was held in Kansas City in May. If you were unable to attend but would like to listen to some of the lectures, you can order them from Jamb Tapers, www.JAMB-Inc.com. The lectures are $12 each plus $1.50 shipping and handling. You can download a spreadsheet list of all lectures to get session numbers you'll need.