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From the Green Valley News, Wednesday July 21 2010, page C2

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Writing to Preserve Research

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) eNews on June 30, 2010 presented the results of a survey on writing your family history. They often take surveys and this one received the most responses ever indicating how important the topic is today.

Only 17% of respondents admitted to not having written anything. The rest of the results follow:

Why is this important to us as family researchers? If we are not writing or at least planning to write about the results of our research, no one will ever benefit from it. Raw data is of little use to anyone except the person who digs it up.

To preserve our research beyond our own lifetime, it's imperative to leave written evidence of our findings. Entry of the information into a genealogy program is NOT written evidence. Every program we use today, no matter how up to date and user friendly, will be obsolete in a matter of a few years.

Think back just 10 years to the software you used and consider: What you would do with it today? It may have come on a floppy drive but whose computer can load it? Even if it was on CD it likely is not compatible with today's operating systems. Flash drives are state of the art today, but may be obsolete when something better comes along.

Besides, unless your descendants are active family researchers, they will never spend time trying to learn your genealogy software's idiosyncrasies. Nor will they understand your filing system, or even have the desire to plow through all your copied records and notes.

The only way to preserve your work so that your descendants can profit from it is by writing the stories and information you collect about your ancestors. Yes, doing research is much more fun than slogging away at keyboard, but if you're not writing you may as well forget the research.

Write and print your results. Paper will last 100s of years and never become obsolete. You can deposit a copy of your material at Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN or at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City. Then untold numbers of future researchers may profit from what you have compiled.

If you have an aversion to paper, you can create a website and upload your written work. Most genealogy programs have tools to help you make a website. Another alternative is to create a CD/DVD for your family members. Here you can present written narratives accompanied by family photos. Still, it's wise to have a paper copy to avoid the time when computers will no longer recognize CD/DVDs.

Perhaps your stories will spark an interest in one of your descendants and they will be motivated to join you in doing family research. Share your work now - don't wait until you've completed your research to start writing. Write as you go along, and it will never be an overwhelming task.

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