This morning on the APG mailing list, a question was asked as to what is to become of our research when we have passed from this life?
One researcher, in particular, has a client in Israel whose uncle passed away. The uncle was the family historian and had extensive files, but had never begun a real summarization, nor uploaded a gedcom to the Jewish Gen. sites, etc. So, his data is pretty much raw, and will need to not only be organized, but a summarization provided as well. The researcher said the problem is that the computer files are in Israel, while the raw data [documents] are in the U.S. The good news is that the raw data is also in the same city as her son, so when she visits from Israel in the fall, she will be able to pick it up then and work on it.
This is all going to be a massive expense for the family in order to preserve the work the uncle had already done! Still, they did not want his work to have been in vain or lost for future generations, and so they are more than willing to cover the expense.
The question this all poses is: "What is to become of our own research when we are gone?"
My personal solution follows. While it may not be what everyone would choose to do, I feel it is the right solution for my research.
MY PERSONAL RESEARCH: My personal research is to be downloaded into a gedcom, complete with notes, and all of my raw data [documents; photos; etc.] are to be donated to our local historical society. I am blessed in that my local historical society is also in the same county where 80% of my personal research [which is vast] takes place! My family was among the earliest settlers in the area, and as such, the historical society is very interested in our material. A copy of the gedcom will also be donated to another historical society where most of the remaining 20% of my research takes place. The historical society here has the funds and capabilities to keep all gedcom files updated in the latest formats. Those donated a few years ago on floppy disks are now safely stored on CD's. These are also safely copied and the master copies are preserved in case of damage to one of the copies. Raw documents are kept according to collections. So they will all be kept together, archivally safe.
MY GENEALOGY BUSINESS RESEARCH: For clients who retain the copyright to their material, I have all of their files shredded after 12 months. This allows the client to retain their degree of anonymity. As well as protect their identity. However, I do ask most clients to sign a release so that I can use the work I performed for publications, lectures, etc. For those files, they will also be left to my local historical society. They will be catalogued under the general family name of the research, but will be placed with my collection, listed as professional research. As such, should someone later wish to find research that was published under my name, they would be able to locate it in the historical society.
Again, while this solution may not work for everyone, I am comfortable with it.
Some researchers have children, or grandchildren, to whom they are able to leave their research. While I have five children, and numerous grandchildren [so far], I don't have anyone who is interested in genealogy, at least not with the passion that I carry And so I would choose to leave it to the historical society.
Others, might want to leave it to their children regardless of the child's interest in genealogy. I want to make sure the public can have access to my work.
You might also check with your local library, or county, state museum or historical society. Most of these have the capabilities, and the desires, to obtain well written and documented familial research.
Preserve the work you have performed. Protect it for the future generations!