Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past, 2nd Edition: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced in any way by others.

How many hours, days, months, years and even decades do we spend carefully compiling the stories of people who are part of our family history? In my case, it has been over 40 years.

Now, consider how much time we spend wondering what will happen to all our hard work when we are gone. I doubt most of us spend even a few hours thinking about it, although we definitely should.

Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past, Second Edition, by Marian Burk Wood points us all in the right direction.

The subtitle explains what it’s all about – How to organize your genealogy materials, curate your collection, and keep family history safe for future generations.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Second Edition
1. Organized storage for your collection
2. Organize your photos, images and movies
3. Organizing digital files and emails
4. Inventory and index your collection
5. Record your family tree
6. Family artifacts: Keep or give away?
7. Find outside homes for artifacts
8. Who wants your genealogy collection?
9. Write your genealogical “will”
10. No obvious heirs? Try these ideas
11. Keep family history alive
Sample forms

This book is a slim 87 pages, but it is packed with excellent tips and detailed steps that allow the reader to approach his or her genealogical collection in a systematic way. Therefore, careful decisions can be made about the future of those family history collections.

Modern genealogical research means documents, records and photographs often have been accessed in more than one format. What do we do with each format?

What items are integral to the family history? Are there items that not only don’t directly tie into one’s family (mementos from friends or business acquaintances?), but that no family member will want in the future?

What if several family members want the same pieces of the family collection?

What do we do with all the “stuff”?

Each of these questions, and much more, is covered in detail in Marian Wood’s book. Don’t be fooled by its small size!

What I like most about this book is that Marian has made “future proofing” years of genealogical research surprisingly easy.

By following her suggestions, a genealogical collection will not only be organized in your hands, its future will be assured.

If you are just starting down the path of family history research, you’ll save yourself mountains of work by reading Chapters 1-5 carefully. Whether you know nothing more than your grandparents’ names and have only a handful of photos or you have inherited a box full of photos and family records and want to do more, you’ll have a good foundation as you begin the ancestral journey.

Those who are more experienced – and already well organized – will want to focus on curating the collection and determining where each piece of research will go (Chapters 6-10.)

Chapter 10  is a must-read for those who have no willing heirs wanting to take up the family history challenge. If a family remained in one area for decades, there might be a local historical society or library that would love to accept a private collection. However, for most of us, families settled and moved multiple times.

The author provides resources for learning more about how to go about donating collections and how to divvy up those collections, if need be.

Chapter 11 offers ideas for engaging younger generations to become as enamored with family history as we are. After all, we are more likely to have enthusiastic heirs who want to take on the family history if we get them hooked now! I especially love the bite-sized history tips and multi-media (small, easy-to-handle) projects that are explained in this chapter.

Lastly, there are several samples at the end of the book, including a form for creating a genealogical will so your wishes are known to others.

Any researcher who follows the simple steps outlined in this book will create a solid master plan, ensuring that the future of each piece of his/her family history collection is accounted for.

I strongly recommend adding this book to each and every research bookshelf. Our years of hard work documenting our family histories need to be passed on to the next generation of caretakers in an organized manner.

Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past, Second Edition by Marian Burk Wood can be pre-ordered today on Amazon for $3.99 (Kindle version) for delivery on 15 September 2021. Hard copies will be available for purchase soon after.




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