Thursday, May 11, 2017

NERGC 2017 – Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past

Marian Burk Wood at NERGC 2017
The session we were waiting for was at 3:00 on the first day of the conference. Our good friend, Marian Burk Wood was presenting information on how to organize and preserve your genealogy materials for future generations.

I didn’t need to take notes. I already had her companion book Planning a Future for YourFamily’s Past. This book is a must-have for every genealogist.

The room was packed, even though Marian’s time slot competed with presentations by well-known speakers like Thomas MacEntee. Elissa Scalise Powell, and Helen Shaw.  It was apparent that conference attendees craved information on how to preserve their genealogy collections.

Marian introduced the audience to her PASS Process: Prepare by organizing materials; Allocate ownership; Set up a genealogical “will,” and Share with heirs.

She went on to explain how to sort your “stuff,” and various organizational techniques. She had examples of storage materials and showed how to use and label.

After placing documents and photos into acid/lignin free archival boxes, Marian inventories the items. She explained how this process makes it easy for her and other family members to know what is in box.

She covered the delicate situation of family feuds. What to do if more than one person wants possession of your genealogical materials. She also explained what to do if no one steps up. She suggested donating your material to your ancestor’s local historical society or other interested repository. She found repositories for items that were of no value to her family, i.e. she donated a WWII war bond wallet showing General MacArthur to the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, VA. Make sure you contact the organization and find out their specific donation requirements.

My best takeaways: “By the inch, it’s a cinch.” I have to remind myself that in order to tackle the job of preserving my genealogy research, I have to do it in small increments. Although I have acid free boxes and photo envelopes, they aren’t adequate for our documents and photos. Nor have I inventoried the boxes. Many items are in Pendaflex folders and we have photos that are not labeled. I have ordered more archival boxes and protective sleeves. Not enough to take care of everything hubby and I have, but it is a start – remember – by the inch, it’s a cinch. We also have to develop our genealogy “wills.” Good luck with your preservation efforts.


  1. Mary, by the inch it really is a cinch. Now I have to get better at monographs, which you folks do so very well. Just as soon as I search another ancestor . . . caption another photo . . . chase down another DNA match.

  2. Marian, you are an inspiration! Organized Agard and Nunn family files this weekend. Excel databases of contents made - feels great!!