Someone recently left the above comment on an old post on the EasyGenie Facebook page. I literally groaned when I read it, but now regard it as a teachable moment.
The anonymous commenter, after reminiscing about mother's dedication to family history and traveling overseas to learn about ancestral origins, concluded with this:
"It was pretty interesting at times. When she passed away a couple of years ago, she left allllllllll the papers she had written everything down on from years of research. Handwritten. I just threw it all out. Not my cup of tea."
This was depressing, and not only because of the loss of this one family's research. It strikes at a deep fear that almost all family historians and genealogists have. Namely, will anyone keep our research alive after we've passed?
Let's be honest: While the concept of a legacy list resonates with many people, kids and grandkids don't always care about genealogy as much as we do. Some may have some mild interest in the stories or photos we share, but many simply don't get it. In addition, it's hard to deal with such records as well as boxes of old photos when they are overwhelmed with things to do following a death in the family.
I have 2 pieces of advice to share. They are not a panacea, but if you start early enough, they greatly increase the chance that our hard work will not be forgotten after we pass:
- Identify/cultivate the next generation of family historians, including younger nephews, nieces, and cousins.
- Create well-sourced summary documents & charts ... and distribute them widely!