For many families, there’s a disaster preparedness plan in place in the terrible event that a fire or natural event strikes. Important everyday documents and valuables such as passports, stock documents, and jewelry may be safely ensconced in a fireproof safe. Your most valuable possessions are likely covered by your homeowner’s insurance or specialized policies. But your genealogical information could be damaged or lost in the event of a tragedy. Not only does that information represent important links to the past, but it also is the culmination of untold hours and even years of research, travel, and careful curation of information. Here are three tips to help you create a preservation and disaster protection plan for your genealogical information and family heirlooms.

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Digitize everything

So much genealogical evidence is captured through complex paper trails. One of the most important aspects of this can be pictures, including older pictures and rare images that may represent the only photograph of a specific ancestor. Other important documents might include copies of out of print books, documentation such as birth and death records, and handwritten interview notes. Your best defense against losing any materials is a proactive approach: digitize everything.

By creating digital copies of documents and photographs, you’ll be protected if any kind of emergency occurs. They’re also easier to share with interested relatives, organize, and publish your findings if that’s among your goals. Once you digitize, look for a reliable storage option that provides a back-up of your files. For example, consider using a remote cloud backup service or an external hard-drive to make a copy of your digital content.

Use smart storage techniques

When choosing the location to store your photographs and other precious family belongings, start by choosing acid free preservation boxes. Consider adding a desiccant package to any boxes storing delicate documents, which helps remove condensation or moisture that can accumulate. Another important consideration is where in your home to store these items. The best choice is somewhere that’s climate controlled and less subject to extremes of temperature, flooding, or other issues. This essentially removes areas such as your basement or attic. Instead, we recommend an interior closet without windows, ideally stored on a shelf that’s above floor level to prevent flood damage and curious children or pets. A water and fire protected box or safe will give you peace of mind.

Your genealogical records are the culmination of significant effort and potential investment. Developing a plan to make sure that your hard work is preserved and protected from natural disasters is a critical component of an ongoing genealogical project. Invest the time now to consider storage, back-ups, and protecting rare family items – you won’t regret it!