One of the key facets of any genealogical investigation is the management of family records, whether in the form of old photographs, certificates and registrations (births, marriages and deaths), family correspondence and the like.
These will often be found tucked away ‘somewhere safe’, and rarely looked at. But to someone newly involved in researching their ancestry, they can be of enormous value.
It is of paramount importance that as much of this material as possible is preserved, not only for your own use as you dig up the roots of your tree, but for future generations as well.
The best (and most obvious) method is to scan such documents and store them on your computer. Depending on the amount of material involved, this could be quite a time-consuming process, but it will mean all of your precious documents will be more readily accessible. Another major advantage is that scanned documents are much easier to share amongst family members.
The usual format for scanned documents is as a pdf (portable document format), but photographs may be better saved as image files (jpg, png, etc).
Each scanned item should have a note attached to it explaining what it is, identifying the persons involved (in photographs, for example), dates and places if known (or at least an approximation if not).
The scanned documents should be stored in separate folders (by type) and then by family names and each should be clearly titled (document type, names and date) to assist in future location and identification.
Don’t forget to create backup copies (using USB memory sticks, for example), which can then be distributed amongst other family members and also stored safely elsewhere.
Finally, the original documents themselves, once identified and sorted, should also continue to be stored safely, in a place known to other family members.