Protecting Your Online Tree Images – don’t let your data disappear! It would be a very sad day if you accessed your online tree and found that a lot of your data images had simply disappeared. Gone. Not there. Vanished. This sounds like scaremongering and if it makes you sit up and take notice then it really doesn’t matter what you call it. The fact is that websites such as Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch enter into agreements with the owners of the documents they offer online and those agreements don’t last for ever. The contract is going to come up for renewal at some stage and if the price asked is too high or the original owners change their policy of allowing access then it could all simply vanish overnight.
An example of how these contracts work is the 1939 Register for England and Wales. When it was first released for public viewing FindMyPast paid to have exclusive rights to digitize and have on their website the images of the register for a set number of years. That contract ran out recently and now both Ancestry and FindMyPast have the data in their collections. Ancestry must have felt the price was too high originally and chose to sit and wait for the exclusive contract to end and then bought non-exclusive rights at a cheaper price. But the current contracts for both FindMyPast and Ancestry will have an end date and when that time comes one or both of them may decide for any number of reasons that they don’t wish to renew it or National Archives may decide that it no longer wants the records on those websites.
If that happened, and it does happen, then the data images will disappear overnight. So what can you do about all this?
Protecting Your Online Tree Images – don’t let your data disappear – the solution
The solution to potentially disappearing records is very simple and whilst it takes a little time to set up you will soon get used to doing it and not give it a second thought. Here is what I do step by step.
1 On your computer make a new file called Genealogy.
2 In that file make further files for each family surname that you are researching.
3 In the family surname file make a file for each ancestor. Surname first, then first name/s date of birth – date of death if known.
Genealogy — Matkin —- Matkin John 1788 – 1841
Now that you have your files set up it is easy and quick to save off an image as follows:-
When you find a new record for your ancestor download a copy of the record to your file for that person. If an image, such as a census, has a number of family members on it I save it to the head family member and then I know where to look for it when researching a spouse or child. Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch all have the facility to download the images from their sites. The name attached to the file is often a string of numbers and letters so rename it to a description such as 1860 census, baptism or whatever the record is. This means you can identify what the record is at a glance rather than having to open each one to find what you are looking for.
This secures your own copy of the document image and all the information that image contains. However the image may well not have the citation information on it and you do need that data so use a Genealogy Citation Worksheet from the MadAboutGenealogy Resource Library. CLICK HERE to access to the library. Print off a copy of the worksheet, fill it in from the online information and when it is full you can scan it and save it into your file for that person and also keep a copy in your file for that family name. CLICK HERE to read my post Organize Your Genealogy which explains my system of keeping genealogy papers in order.
Protecting Your Online Tree Images – don’t let your data disappear – Summary
There it is my quick and easy system of making sure the images of my genealogy documents won’t disappear overnight because they are safe on my computer. If you also keep your family history on a computer based genealogy program you can easily attach the images in that program as well. If you do this every time you find a new record then it will soon become a habit and it is these habits which make a good genealogist.
Plus of course don’t forget to back up your online family trees regularly – I do this first thing on the 1st day of each month and I keep 3 months worth of back ups on my computer hard drive which in turn gets back up to the Cloud. CLICK HERE to read my post Keeping Your Genealogy Data Safe to find out how to do the back ups.
Don’t let your data disappear, get into these habits and be happy in the knowledge that you have protected your family history.
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