Genealogy ~ How Many Certificates Do You Need?

My wife calls me a pack rat when it comes to my genealogy records.  I call7 myself a well-sourced researcher.   Which of us is right?

This morning, I mentioned that I needed to pick up several more Wilson-Jones 367-49 heavy 3-ring binders and a couple thousand sheet protectors for my ever increasing collection of genealogy source documents.  That comment started a discussion about “how large of a collection did I intend to keep at our house.”

My position was that you can’t have too many source documents to support your research data, especially if a large percentage of them are Birth, Marriage and Death certificates along with a liberal smattering of wills, deeds, journals and photos. 

Of course, my position on this is correct, as I’m sure you defend your similar position to your own spouse and family.  Undoubtedly, their eyebrow raise when you say that to them too.

“I don’t have THAT much.”  “Why are you concerned about it?”  A reasonable statement – Right?

“Let’s take an inventory of what you have and measure it against what is Too Much.”  Hmmm…  This argument may not be going in my favor.

An hour later, I totaled the columns of tick marks just to be sure they were ‘fairly’ counted.  It does seem that I have a ‘little’ larger collection than I realized.   

Four Drawer File Cabinets


Horizontal Four Drawer File Cabinets


Book Shelves (6ft wide to ceiling)


Wall Cabinets


3” Wilson Jones Hard Cover Binders


Terabytes of Disk Storage


Computers dedicated to Genealogy


Grab Bags for Interviews


Photography Bags and Equipment


Flat Bed Scanners




Desks or Built in Work Surfaces


Storage Closets


Rooms to Store all this stuff



As you can imagine, my argument was weakened “a bit” by this revealing list.  I’m still not moving away from my initial position but I’m sure the discussion will not ‘go away’ over time.

My wife also loves genealogy, so we both have that basis in common.  Nonetheless, she asks “How Much Is Enough?” and made sure that I clearly understand that my genealogy space ‘creep’ will not be allowed into her quilting room / domain. 

Our Tech Manager son tells me to ‘Digitize Everything’, meaning that I should toss the hard copies.  Of course he knows that I’ve always created digital copies of my documents, notes, etc., and have them backed up in multiple locations, but “Toss the Hardcopies?”  That isn’t going to happen for a number of reasons, including document survivability in scenarios such as loosing my digital copies to a hi-burst EMF Pulse or some other cataclysmic event.  The news on television, tells me to expect anything these days.

Yes, I understand the ramifications of such an devastating event would impact my life so greatly, that I probably won’t care about doing or proving genealogical research for a long time, but I want to give the records as many chances to survive as I can.

I’ve talked to our children about taking over my somewhat large genealogy collection after my wife and I pass from this life.  Who can house it?  Who wants it?  Who will continue in our ancestral quest?  Lots of interest among them but no takers so far. 

The answers to the longtime disposition of my records and data isn’t settled yet.  Donating the collection to a library hasn’t been as good of an idea as I thought.  Most libraries don’t want it or if they did accept it would ‘toss’ the majority of it to save space.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City doesn’t want it.  They’ll accept it in published book form but not all of the binders, files and digital files that I have.  The very large family history library at Brigham Young University doesn’t want it, again unless it is published in bound books, etc.

The decision about how to pass on my research and associated records that were accumulated over tens of thousands of hours and with huge financial investment during my life time has yet to be resolved.  

I’m still exploring a lot of ideas for a workable solution.  You are probably in the same position to one varying degree or another.  Let me know your own plan.  However, please don’t comment on the size of my genealogy collection to my sweetheart.  Ok? 

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-05-14 16:09:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.