Saturday, 1 November 2008

Safely stored but not forgotten

How do you preserve the fruits of your genealogy labour? Of the materials you've collected over a lifetime what do you keep? What do you consign to the materials afterlife?

On a trip to Montreal I picked up a
recent, thin, 64 page, 7-1/4" by 4-3/4" format book from Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The title in English "Safely stored but not forgotten" is not quite as creative as in French "À l'abri de l'oubli." In either language it's a guide to conserving your personal and family documents.

For each type of document you might have it recommends either keeping or disposing of it after a specified number of years or at the end of a defined useful life. How long do you keep your income tax records, utility statements, education and employment records, school yearbooks, real estate records, letters from your grandmother and so on. For more than half the document types considered the book recommends disposal although in some cases the specific recommendations are for the Quebec or Canadian legal regime.

The content is hardly groundbreaking. You won't find novel information, more frustrating conformation of your delinquency if you, like me, have a large backlog of materials to deal with. Also recommendations don't seem to recognize the realities of aging. Do you really need to "keep documents relating to your schooling all your life" once you're into retirement?

What impresses most about the volume, aside from the Archives initiative in publishing it, is the design by orangetango.

No comments: