You've spent many hours listening to Uncle Jack as he reminisced, recollected and reconsidered.
You've visited archives, cemeteries and courthouses in pursuit of information that tells the story of your ancestors' lives.
And over the years you've amassed quite a collection of files telling you where you've been, what you've uncovered and what you still need to know.
Few possessions are more valuable to you than those digital and paper files containing your family group sheets and pedigree charts and documents your ancestors actually touched.
After all, reviewing them paints a picture of who your ancestors were, what they did, when they did it, where they did it and, perhaps, why they did it.
But if you're like many of us, few possessions are so inadequately protected.
Researching and collecting family information can be such a sexy preoccupation we forget about threats to our genealogy collections, including fire, floods, lightning strikes, tornadoes and theft.
Insurance on the equipment genealogists use can never compensate for the time and emotions invested in the pursuit of family history. Postponing some research and taking time to protect what we already have is a lot less painful than losing it all.
Here are tips on what we can do.
1) Paper files can be scanned into a computer then saved to a disk or flash drive. Copy the scanned files onto several disks or flash drives and give a copy of each to someone for safekeeping. Make sure that person is someone whose home won't be subject to the same natural disasters as yours.
Some genealogists prefer to put their disks, flash drives and even original copies or unique documents in a safe-deposit box at their bank. It's a good idea if you fear you'll find confidential information from those files published on the Internet.
2) You also can purchase an external hard drive for your computer and back up your scans and other digital files to that drive frequently. If you leave it connected to your computer, you run the risk of losing your information should lightning strike. If you have to evacuate in a hurry, you can grab that drive and go.
You can pay around $50 a year, but prices vary depending on the company, services and storage space.
Also, don't forget to back up audio of those stories Uncle Jack told you. He won't be around forever, and every now and then, the way he said something to you will make as much difference as the words he used.
And that will make all the difference in the world.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or email@example.com.