The decision to move will inevitable come at some stage of our life where we need to downscale and get rid of stuff. Whether it’s your own decision or be it a parent going into frail care or even you, when you are forced to make decisions on those precious family items and heirlooms we all hang on to its going to be a difficult one.
Who are the family grabbers?
There is no easy answer for the person who has to part with their possession’s but seeing a frail old lady having to say goodbye to photos of her parents, siblings and even grandchildren are heart-breaking. The rivalry amongst some family members can be catastrophic – from children claiming that Uncles James was their favourite Uncle and they should have all his photos to grandchildren demanding all the old documents as they want to claim citizenship in the country of their ancestor’s birth are aggravating circumstances for any sane and level headed person in charge to make these decisions.
Who do I give my family tree to?
In today’s technology there is no excuse not to have all the documents and photos scanned and retained in an electronic format. It
is a good idea is to open a Free drop box account and then everyone can have a slice of the pie. It does however take time and money but the decision is yours. The next question comes: “who gets the originals?” A tricky question as like any inheritance, there will be heir hunters, opportunists, grabbers, socialite members of the family and of course those that stand back and watch and wait. Finding a good solid repository to give them to is one way of alleviating the problem. Many institutions like the National Archives of South Africa, National Library of South Africa, Special Collections Department at UCT or place like the Genealogical Society of South Africa or the Genealogical Institute of South Africa would be my top choices. Once you have made a bequest to one of these institutions any family member can then access them under strict and guided control where Aunty Mavis portrait of her curtsying to Queen won’t go missing or Grandpa Riley’s birth certificate saying that he was in fact a bastard.
Have you put names on the back of your photos?
Consideration should be given to those family members who are passionate about family history, collectors and hoarders and those that show potential interest. Whenever my granddaughter comes to visit she gets an education onto who the dead people in the photos in the passage are – at 8 years old she already knows who Grandpa MacAlister was and that he was a ship’s Captain and the lady with the stern face that never smiled was Granny Woodland – she has potential and without educating our children and grandchildren nobody will ever know who those unnamed people are that we forgot to put the names on the back of the photos.
What happens to your computer stuff?
Downscaling also means what happens to all your Family Tree software – maybe in the old age home there is limited electronic equipment allowed or in many not even internet and you will no longer be able to access you tree on Ancestry.com or Findmypast – these things are a reality and will become a major challenge for any home for the aged in South Africa where Wi-Fi and internet literally don’t exist. However, most genealogy software programs still allow you to carry on building your tree and addi
ng images and documents that you have saved as before but not having internet access you will not be able to sync your tree to your subscription based website.
The older we get the more forgetful we become and for most of us mistakes are just part of growing old – it’s a good idea to make sure that someone else in the family has a copy of your family tree or they have access to your Ancestry account so that when you kick the bucket they can either download the latest version of your tree or take over your account.
We also need to make sure that there is only one version of your family tree –I know friends (including me) who have several versions of their family tree linked to 3 different devices – yes it happens. One to the iPad, one to the cell phone and one to the PC and bear in mind that each tree can only be linked to its own tree on any website so this means this person already has 3 versions and I cannot assure you that none of them will be the most up to date and correct one. You need to decide which one you want to keep and update it or compare it with the other versions if you can and the others should be either deleted or renamed as familytree.old.ged.
Backup, backup, backup
There would be nothing worse than leaving someone with three versions of your family tree and they end up using the wrong one. Remove or delete the old versions, update your family tree and make sure that all your documents and most poignant photos are attached to the correct people in your tree.
I am moving back to Cape Town and my family tree, personal documents, photos and books and my most treasured possession’s. They are being packed and moved only by me. Oh and don’t forget to make sure that your PC is backed up before the removal lorry arrives and you have a copy of your tree in Dropbox as well as your photos as you would hate to arrive in your new home and find your PC was dropped and everything was lost.
If you need help in having your family tree charted or researched – please do not hesitate to contact me for a quotation – I can help!!