28    Feb 20130 comments

Family History: What do we do with our ’stuff’?

One of my favorite blogs is The Signal, the digital preservation blog of the Library of Congress. A hot topic there centers on personal digital archiving, and much of that relates to family history and genealogy.

The LOC’s Mike Ashenfelder, who writes online articles about personal digital archiving, digital preservation leaders and developments in digital preservation, writes on preserving personal genealogical collections in a digital age.

The popularity of genealogy websites and TV shows is rapidly growing, mainly because the Internet has made it so convenient to access family history information. Almost everything can be done through the computer now. Before the digital age, genealogical research was not only  laborious and time consuming, it also resulted in boxes of documents: photos, charts, letters, copies of records and more. Online genealogy has  replaced all that paper with digital files. But the trade-off for the ease of finding and gathering the stuff is the challenge of preserving it.

About genealogical databases, Ashenfelder writes:

that relational databases are the engines that drive digital genealogy. Databases make it possible to quickly search through enormous quantities of records, find the person you’re looking for and discover related people and events. And when institutions collaborate and share databases, statistical information becomes enriched.

And, considering some demographics of family history aficionados, digital estate planning now a popular topic. What happens to our digital possessions after we die? And what can we do to preserve them? Getting your digital affairs in order offers much practical information.

In addition to posts on various aspects of this field, a recent post detailed the upcoming Personal Digital Archiving conference, which brings together a community of interested people who are now addressing the challenges and solutions of preserving personal digital archives. For more on this two-day event, click here.

Some presentations will focus on what average real people actually do with their "stuff," as opposed to what digital preservation experts insist they should do; social science research on personal-archive data, and – a topic near and dear to MyHeritage’s heart – the use of personal digital archives for enriching family histories.

Create your digital family tree at MyHeritage

Other topics include institutional privacy and ownership rights issues around collecting and accessing personal digital archives; tools and techniques to process email archives; investigations of building, managing and archiving scholarly practices, artistic works and family history archives. investigations of building, managing and archiving scholarly practices, artistic works and family history archives.

With a family site at MyHeritage, you can preserve - for future generations - your family's unique history, along with documents, videos and photographs.

What are you doing with your own personal archive? What plans have you made for the future? How will you ensure this information is not lost? Share your comments below and on our Facebook page.

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