The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, 2011 is a reminder to all of
us, just how vulnerable genealogical records are. Many of us know the frustration of being on the verge of finding information about our long, lost great, great grandfather only to discover the courthouse where his records were kept burned to the ground a century ago.
What about your personal records? Family homes burn more often than courthouses. A
flood can destroy irreplaceable records and photographs stored in a basement. Your insurance may rebuild your home, but you can’t buy another copy of that photograph of great aunt Mildred riding a burro in the Grand Canyon or the original birth certificate of your cousin, the silent movie star from the 1920’s. Here are ideas all professional or hobbyist genealogists should consider to prevent a catastrophic loss of valuables.
- Make sure you have a digitized version of all photographs, documents, and research. If hard drive space is a problem, you can use free photo-sharing services such as www.flickr.com, http://photobucket.com or picasa.google.com.
- Use a backup service that stores your files off site. An external hard drive can back up your data and protect your files from a computer crash, but what about a natural disaster that destroys your whole house? Services such as Mozy home (http://mozy.com/home/), Carbonite (www.carbonite.com), or Norton Online Backup (http://us.norton.com/online-backup/) will allow you to recover all your data after you have recovered your life.
- Consider getting a safe deposit box or fireproof safe for important original documents
or heirlooms. Protect these valuable items from catastrophe or theft.
- Keep fabrics, like uniforms, tapestries, or quilts, safe from disintegration by keeping them dry and protected from pests. Moths and rust may not corrupt in Heaven, but they can wreak havoc here on Earth.
- Keep documents and photos inacid-free archival storage. Papercan turn to dust if not properly stored.
Disasters happen quickly and often without warning. Avoid regrets with adequate preparation.