Leaving a legacy

Curbside recycling is a wonderful thing… but it’s not where I want my decades of family history research to end up when I’m gone.

Genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen once described her work like this: “I ‘reconstruct forgotten lives.’ Nothing is more satisfying than the knowledge that a life, long lost to time, can be rediscovered and understood. Every life has purpose and significance. My goal is to honor those disappeared lives by recreating, preserving and sharing their memories.”.”1

I aspire to the same goals—and that means that I need to include “preserving and sharing” in my genealogy efforts. Like so many of us, I am staying at home during this pandemic crisis. Why not use some of this time to develop plans to make sure my research, discoveries, and family treasures don’t end up sitting abandoned on the curb one day?

Here are some baby steps I can take. Make sure I have public online trees. Add sources. Scan photos and documents and attach them to those online trees. Link DNA to those trees too, where I have DNA test results. Join lineage societies. Scan family record pages from Bibles and contribute those digitized images and transcriptions to collections such as ACPL and NGS. Check FindaGrave.com; see if it lacks grave marker images for any tombstones I have already photographed or plan to. What else could I do?

Maybe something like this?


IrelandXO.com allows you to create online ancestor pages. Here is a cropped image of one I began for my great-granddad, who was born in Co. Galway Ireland in 1868.

Another idea: try to identify all my parents’ first cousins and their children. Then all my grandparents’ first cousins and their children and grandchildren. This can help with identifying DNA matches, but if I reach out to them, I may also discover relatives who have artifacts or stories or photos that will help me recreate my ancestors’ histories. And maybe—if my kids or grandkids aren’t interested in my bins and binders or digital files—one of their family members might treasure them.

I’m sure you can think of a number of other ways to leave a legacy.

If I really want to do a good job “preserving and sharing”, I should probably look into what some experts have to say about it. Here’s a baker’s dozen of resources, including books, webinars, podcasts, and blog posts. Maybe something here will be useful to you too. (All URLs were accessed 29 Mar 2020.)

Macmillan dictionary defines a legacy as “something that someone has achieved that continues to exist after they stop working or die.”2

I hope to leave a legacy with my family history research, so future generations can also remember and honor our ancestors. After all, where would we be without them?

© Ann Raymont, CG®  April 2020

ETA (edited to add): as I encounter other resources I’d like to revisit, I may add them later  here!

Judy G. Russell, “Giving it away,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 21 May 2020).



1. “Welcome Alice Hoyt Veen, CG” Board for Certification of Genealogists (https://bcgcertification.org/welcome-alice-hoyt-veen-cg/ : accessed 31 Mar 2020).

2. “Legacy,” macmillan dictionary (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/legacy : accessed 31 Mar 2020).

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