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What will happen to all of our genealogy blogs and websites?

"Dr. Hugh Fleming Clifford," obituary, Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 27 Apr 2019 p. B5, col. 1.
“Dr. Hugh Fleming Clifford,” obituary, Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 27 Apr 2019 p. B5, col. 1.

Earlier this week, I was reading a blog post by Ed Ball that got me thinking about my Clifford line. I haven’t done much with that line as there was already a good website with loads of citations that my fourth cousin 1 x removed, Dr. Hugh Fleming Clifford, had published in 2003. I went to check something on the website and it was gone.

At first I thought, “Oh, the server must be down,” but after a minute or two when the site still didn’t appear, I began researching. It turns out Dr. Clifford died in 2019. His family must have let the website go and it is no longer there.

I quickly searched to see if his research, Cliffords from New Jersey to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and beyond, was in print and, yay!, Family Search has a copy. But…. not online.

So, the good news, the research is safe. The bad news is very few can see it.

I found the website on Wayback Machine and made pdfs of all the pages for my personal use, but it really got me thinking – what will happen to all of our genealogy blogs and websites?

Blogging in the world to come

I’ve created numerous websites throughout the years and, in June 2019, I decided to combine our multiple websites and blogs into this one site. I built my first WordPress site in about 2005 when it was really new. It is a platform where I feel very comfortable.

Our genealogy blogs and websites will inevitably disappear in the future. What is your plan for preserving your years of research?

At the time, I knew I wanted to devote a significant portion of the website to genealogy research and also to have a blog – and that in the long term, I’d have to face the issue that the website would inevitably disappear.

I prepaid for my site for quite a few years but, let’s face it, you can’t pre-pay your way out of this one. WordPress [or insert your platform here] may not exist in 20 or 30 years. Something new and (hopefully) better will take its place. As they say, the only thing certain is death and taxes – and, I think it’s also safe to say that it is fairly certain that technology will certainly continue to evolve.

I call the narratives I write for family members’ profiles – here is an example, my grandfather, Charles Fountain Faulkner. After I publish each one, I create a document with text and endnotes and file it away. But, what I love most about a website is that it is so easy to change, update, and re-write if you wish. When you find something new, you change it. So, all those text documents are out of date about the time I create them.

My plan is to publish my research at some point in the future in print. Self-publishing is fairly easy and no longer that expensive. The question is when. When will I get to a point where I am ready for print and no more changes?

How about you? Any other ideas on how to preserve all of our research? Send me a tweet and let me know @KimberliHull.

Ideas update

Marian Burk Wood suggested donating genealogy research in print to Allen County Public Library or the Family History Library. Both have pages concerning their donation policies:

Judith Batchelor (GenealogyJude) reported that she has submitted her website to the British Library archive and her spouse was planning on getting a book printed of her blogs.

Taneya Y. Koonce, MSLS, MPH suggested submitting web pages to the Wayback Machine and advised their Chrome extension has a “Save Page Now” feature to add it.

Taneya also recommended using Forever to preserve photos.

Both Taneya and Julie Goucher suggested joining the Guild of One Name Studies. The Guild has a Members’ Websites Program.

Shauna Hicks said her website is archived by the National Library of Australia. Here is more information on their programs.

Mitch Betts said he was hoping to donate printed PDFs to local genealogy societies and upload them to Internet Archive; make photo books for relatives, and he’s exploring Permanent-dot-org as a possible archive.

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MyHeritage Guest Article by Kimberli Faulkner Hull
MyHeritage Guest Article by Kimberli Faulkner Hull
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