Marian Burk Wood, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, family history books, organizing, genealogy, ancestryI have the best of intentions, I really do. I have two four–drawer file cabinets brimming full of my files, and shelves full of books and notebooks of notes, but I also have stacks of charts, documents and pedigrees on shelves in my closet. In the beginning, I did better, but almost like an avalanche, things began to quickly accumulate and intent on the case at hand, I set things in the “stack” to be dealt with later. Now the task of organizing the large piles is daunting and I keep postponing it. I know, it’s shameful.

I’ve been looking for a way to tame the beast without cutting too much into my research time, even though I know that by not taking the time to do it now, I am missing important hints and possibly (okay, more than just a little likely) duplicating some of my efforts.  It’s been on my mind a lot lately and so the timing could not have been better when Marian Burk Wood  contacted me and offered to send me a copy of her new book Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past to read and review. I was excited to to get the book and see what insight she had for organizing and planning for the future of my genealogy materials.

Marian’s book is well organized and she literally starts from the very beginning by starting with the stacks so many of us have.  From there, she breaks the project down into bite-sized pieces by dividing tasks in short little assignments that allows us to take it one step at a time. Every chapter ends with bullet point summation that makes it easy to review the steps needed for that portion of our project. I think my tendency is to make the project so enormous, it’s hard to even want to begin because who has that amount of time? However, her no stress approach allows for the project to be done in small little increments of time and that appeals to me and left me feeling that I could do this.

Marian mentions products I wasn’t aware of, provides links for further reading and tackles some issues I had not really considered. For instance, what about those things you don’t really want and yet have held onto because they were passed down? Have you considered they might possibly provide a way to strengthen family ties with distant family? Marian shares some ways to do that.

And what will happen to our years of hard work after we’re gone? It’s easy to assume family will want our research, but will they really? What is the best way to arrange for the transfer of our research after we are gone? How can we make it easier for others to even want to inherit our priceless years of research? These things and many more were addressed in Marian’s book.

For those looking for help organizing their genealogy materials and for direction in planning for the future of their collections, this book is well worth the read.

Disclosure: I was given this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

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8 thoughts on “Book review: Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past

  1. No, it isn't shameful at all, although I feel the same way at times. It felt like it took forever to get even a handle on all the things I brought home from my step-mother's basement last year and I'm still not totally organized, still have to look for certain things when I want them and I feel guilty about it. But yesterday evening I did start an index for a recent batch of photo scanning, so I'm on the right track!

  2. You have tackled a huge project Anna and are an inspiration. When you receive as much as you did, it can be so overwhelming. Mine is pretty much self inflicted as what I have I have acquired gradually over the years. ;^)

  3. Michelle, Thanks for the review of this book. It sounds very interesting, and so I investigated the author, Marian Burk Wood. It looks like her specialty is the Marketing Plan Handbook, and I found it interesting that the education version sells for $139.49, but one can get one used for .99.

    On the subject of my family's past, I have been thinking about preservation for several years. My approach has been to write the story into seven (7) separate narrative books, and my goal is to complete this before I reach age 75, when I think my mind may start to deteriorate. I have finished the first two of these books, and have published them at FamilySearch. But now I am age 68, and am starting to think that I might not finish my goal. Also, there are quite a bit of family heirlooms that will not be preserved in my books. So I am going to get a copy of this book and read it.

    Thanks again!

  4. John I got a Shotbox recently for photographing the few heirlooms that I have and it seriously is amazing. It is a light box with perfect lighting. My plan is to take pictures of anything I have and others have so that we can all at least have a picture of things, even if we don't have the actual heirloom.

    There are so many aspects of preserving our history and it sounds like you are well on your way!

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