“My kids don’t care about family history.”

It’s a story I hear a lot, usually from a genealogist in retirement. They’re trying to organize their files and pass them down to their children. The children are telling them they do not want the papers. The reasons usually vary from family to family: lack of space, lack of interest, or something else.

The sad reality is that it’s not the kids don’t care – it’s that they don’t care now. I can’t tell you how often a beginning genealogist comes to me sharing that they “wished they’d saved…” or “wished they’d asked…” At the time, it felt like just stuff being forced upon them or boring information that they didn’t want to hear. By the time these genealogists realized they were interested, the papers and the people were gone.

How is a genealogist to avoid this pitfall? Take the time to think carefully about where your files will be safe, and where your family might look to find them again. Your house is usually not the place. Papers tend to get thrown out in a rush to clean up after a funeral. A local archives might be able to accept your files if they meet their collecting priority. (Ask before showing up! There are things they can’t take.) A library might be willing to take a published book. Lineage societies will store the documentation for specific lines or lines of a family tree. (I often use DAR applications from the 1950s and 60s for individuals researching now.) Doing the work now can help your family enjoy your efforts when they’re ready – even if it’s decades later.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

%d bloggers like this: