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Preserving Your Genealogy

Every genealogist works with a lot of death information. We review death certificates and wills. We visit cemeteries. All this drives home the point that none of us will get off the Earth alive. We, too, will pass away. What will become of all our research once we are gone?

In my early years of genealogy, everyone sought to compile a volume of family history to preserve their information. Colleagues published beautiful books telling their family stories in text and photographs. A distant cousin of mine even prepared such a book as part of his PhD work. I thought that I, too, would write genealogies someday. I even did a trial run on my Riddle family during the Millennium, Olive Dunbar Riddle and Her Descendants.

After that, the Digital Age took center stage in the genealogy world. We embraced it by using ever-more-complicated genealogy software programs and using newly-available genealogy databases. We created a website to display our family tree.

The website got us thinking. Why put in the effort and expense of preparing a book when all our data is already available in real time on the website? We delayed plans for any books and concentrated on doing more research instead. Our web tree now holds thousands of names and sources.

Maintaining the web tree, however, requires, well, maintenance. Who will do that when we are gone? Not my kids! Knowing this, should I begin a book right away to preserve my family information?

Another choice exists. This week we learned about it at the monthly meeting of the Computer Interest Group of the Colorado Genealogical Society. The tireless Barb Price gave a presentation on the Family Tree feature now available on Family Search ( The creators of this site envision collecting research information, organizing it into one world family tree, and maintaining it in perpetuity.

This idea appeals to us, and my husband/tech advisor was all set to submit his data right away. Then he realized that unlike several other genealogy programs, The Master Genealogist (TMG) software we use cannot export to Family Tree. He contacted TMG and was disappointed to learn they have no plans for an upgrade.

What to do? We have not decided yet. We could undertake the huge job of re-entering all our data into Family Tree. We could purchase a new software program that does export to Family Tree, and then use a GedCom to transport our data from TMG into the new program and finally upload it from there. Both of these options would take a lot of time.

Maybe we will wait to see if the folks at TMG change their minds about enabling a data transfer. Are there any other TMG users out there who wish they could preserve their data on Family Tree? Maybe if more of us contacted the company, they would take some action.


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