I started a project for my local genealogical society library of scanning and preserving the research of someone's donated works. It entails 3 large boxes of papers and pictures. Someone has already started going through the collection and was organizing the pictures. I decided that the papers could be scanned and then tossed and thus save room at the library.
This project made me reflect on my own research. What would happen to my work when I die? Would it end up in boxes to sit on a shelf at a library or worst in the trash? So I decided to look at all the stacks of paper I have collected. When I moved to Arizona in 1999, I decided to take my research up one notch. I started sourcing my work and started a new file system. In this new file system, only those items that I have sourced are allowed in this file. So what about all the other stacks?
If I haven't taken the time to source them; how important are they? Well some more so than others, but if someone was going to get this collection, do I want them to try to read my dead mind and figure out what's important and what is not? So I have a huge file collection of papers back from 1992 when I use to belong to Prodigy. Does anyone remember Prodigy? It was a dedicated, closed network that predates the World Wide Web. AOL was another such network. Both of these networks did open up to the World Wide Web, but the services they offered on their closed network was only available to their members. They had a genealogy community on Prodigy and I would check out their surname message board and print out messages with surnames that I was researching. Now looking at these pages that are neatly filed by surname, I must re-evaluate how valuable are these. Well lets look at one.
I have a date, time and who the message was from and who the message was to and the subject of the message and the body of the message. However, if I do find a connection, how would I make contact to either the sender or receiver? All I have is their name and their Prodigy user id. Not much help is this? So this is where I am starting. I will verify that I am only throwing away all these pages of useless messages. Yes I could turn all this into scrap paper, but I don't want to take a chance and have these pages find their way accidently back into my research, so the trash is the safest place for now.