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Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to Digitally Preserve Your Family's History

Ever heard of PDF-A files? How about JPG 2000 lossless? Know what an M.DISC is?

Well neither did I until I attend the Preserving Your Roots, a family history conference held the weekend of June 4th in Regina, Saskatchewan.

The event, organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, centered on how to archive - not simply backup - family history (genealogical) records from hard copy to digital formats.

Knockout keynote
There were sessions on how to use Google for family history work, choosing the best software downloads for genealogy work, how to retouch family photos and more - including a knockout keynote by Gary W. Wright who works for the Church and is Senior Product Manager for Digital Preservation.

Wright gave a powerful presentation on how to digitize all the tangible stuff that binds you to your family members who have already passed; photos, vital records, journals, music, artwork, oral histories, newspaper clippings, family videos, books, maps, etc.

He's written a 16-page document called Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally that details the hardware and software you'll need, offers solutions to problems in archiving this special information.

Clear picture
He paints a clear picture of the challenges involved in digital preservation:

"It is NOT merely backing up your data! Rather it is a process that involves storing digital records (i) with descriptive information (ii) for a very long time (iii) in multiple locations (iv) at the highest resolution you can afford; (v) periodically migrating the records to new storage media in order to prevent data loss or the inability to read the data; also to take advantage of new storage technology; (vi) changing file formats before they become obsolete; and (vii) providing access to your digital collection now and in the future."

Free download
If you're at all interested in the subject, Wright's paper is worth the free download. There's also a wealth of other tech tip resources on the site. And if you've never had the pleasure of starting to research and preserve your family's history, why not check out the free FamilySearch website and see where your family line takes you.

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