Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Be Prepared

On July 20th Sharon Tate Moody of the "Tampa Tribune" wrote a wonderful article that will certainly help many professional, as well as non-professional, genealogists better prepare themselves for disaster and their precious files.

Sharon states that she had grown comfortable with the idea that everything she really needed to preserve was on her computer. Thus, in the state of emergency her spouse would grab the dog as he ran to the car; she would grab her computer. After viewing the devastation in Iowa and now with the coming hurricane season in Florida, Sharon took a different look at things. No one wants to see the kind of loss that resulted in Iowa with both personal and professional treasures!

Like most of us, Sharon states she has a "zillion" paper files and notebooks full of old correspondence, copies of original documents, journals, etc. Looking at these with new eyes she has decided there are those things among them that she could never replace, and has now devised a new strategy should she have to evacuate prior to a hurricane or other disaster.

Sharon moved all of her files from metal file cabinets into plastic filing boxes. These are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to grab and toss into the car trunk! She even devised a color coding system, whereby she utilized 2 different colored file boxes: one color of filing boxes wold be priority (first into the car) while the other color would be left behind to weather the disaster.

Beyond this, she offered these suggestions for anyone fortunate enough to have original letters, journals, old newspaper clippings, deeds and all family Bibles. THEY NEED TO BE STORED CORRECTLY AT ALL TIMES!

Never store these items in a metal file cabinet. Original documents should be stored flat, away from sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Never use rubber bands, staples or other metal fasteners on these documents [the rubber bands will harden and bond to paper and some fasteners will rust].

Photographs should be kept free from sulfur, acids and peroxides. They should be kept in acid-free folders or boxes. Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes should be stored in their original cases or frames. When "disaster looms" put these all in the large plastic storage bins for quick removal!
You can find archival storage products, most likely, in local office supply stores, but the absolute best products are available through national distributors such as Archival Products at or Hollinger Corporation at

You can find Rubbermaid's Roughneck file boxes available at most local office supply stores. I know I have personally purchased mine at my local Wal-Mart store. The one pictured above was found at on Office World, and retails for $21.99. Not a bad investment! It also features extra storage in the lid for notebooks or flat documents.

Be prepared for any disaster with your precious research! Know what you will take with you. Know what you will leave and how you will leave it to weather out any storm.

Oh, and by the way, my doggie goes to the car and then comes my files! No man [or pet] left behind!

Have a great day!

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