Is it time for you to decide what to do with the family history that you have spent years researching, collecting, writing, photographing and traveling to learn the links of your ancestry? There are three-ring binders full of notes on individual ancestors and families, long lists of phone numbers and addresses, boxes of photographs and more – all stored in a closet. Every time you open that door and see that collection, you may say to yourself, “What am I going to do with all this stuff?”
You have offered your collection to your children (and perhaps adult grandchildren) and siblings but they claim they’re not interested. That may be true today but it may not be true tomorrow. All you can do is take their word today and move on.
And yes, there are dozens of cousins at all levels, some of whom are interested but some are not. But one is not more deserving to get the entire collection nor would it be beneficial to the family to break up the collection and distribute it to several individuals.
It could be that you are related to the elderly owner and have no interest in assuming ownership but happen to hold the power of attorney, so the final destination of this family collection is in your lap and should be dealt with soon.
If the family history collection is not specified in the will as to who should inherit it, or the person who has the power of attorney may not be a relative and could do what he or she wants with the collection without telling anybody, this valuable collection could be trashed. It has happened.
One option is to donate the family history to a museum in the area where the family resided.
· Contact that museum and learn its rules and regulations concerning donations.
· Copy the entire collection (texts, photos, illustrations) on to a CD for your records.
· Inform all family members what you have done. They may or may not care but at least they know the collection is in safe hands and freely available to anyone. And offer them an opportunity to buy a copy of the CD that holds the collection.
· Once the museum accepts your collection, it becomes the property of that museum and the owner of the family history collection will sign a document to that effect.
This is why it is important to have a discussion with the elderly owner about what to do with such a collection that has taken years to accumulate. Perhaps the best thing is to pass on this family history collection before the death of the owner.
What I have done is to donate my500+ year Updegrove family history collection to the local Museum of the Great Plains because the family moved to this area in 1902. I informed all family members that a copy of the text, pictures and illustrations can be purchased from me on a CD. Or they can visit the museum and see the collection for themselves.
I am satisfied that my Updegrove family collection is in a safe place, under lock and key and open to anyone who wishes to see it.
Phyllis Young lives in Lawton.