Keep your family’s past alive to pass to future generations!
Old photos, genealogical documents, ancestors' stories, and artifacts are vital to understanding your family’s past—and they belong to your family’s future. This concise step-by-step guide will show you how to organize and pass your genealogy collection and family history to the next generation.
Whether you’re new to genealogy or have years of experience, you’ll find practical ideas and learn how to: sort your genealogy collection into logical categories, safely store and label your materials, inventory and index for new insights, decide what to keep and what to give away, write instructions for your collection’s future and bring family history alive now. Includes sample forms and links to online resources to help you put a personalized PASS plan into action.
Introduction to the PASS process
- Prepare by organizing materials
- Allocate ownership
- Set up a genealogical "will"
- Share with heirs
STEP 1: Prepare by organizing your material
1. Sort your materials
- Rough-sort strategies
- Fine-sort strategies
- Refining fine-sort categories
- Managing mystery materials
2. Pick your style of storage
- Options for storing materials
- Files and folders
- Boxes or tubs
- Your trusty label maker
- Put a sleeve on it
3. Organize your photos, images, and movies
- Fine-sort photos and negatives
- Caption your photos
- Write captions on paper or labels
- Downsize and sort slides
- Scan and store your slides
- Save your movies
4. Organizing digital files and emails
- Why digitize?
- Sources for digitizing
- File your digital files and emails
- Digitize captions
- Back up regularly
5. Inventory and index your collection
- Why inventory?
- How to take your inventory
- Get ready to index
- Six easy steps to indexing
- After indexing, look for clues
- Solving family mysteries
6. Record your family tree
- Family group sheets and pedigree charts
- Downloadable templates
- Family trees via software or online
STEP 2: Allocate ownership
7. Sort items for the family
- Rough sort into three categories
- Category one: One item for multiple heirs
- Category two: Fine sort is family first
- Managing family-first giveaways
- "Family friends" or family?
8. Find outside homes for artifacts
- Fine sort for non-family recipients
- Objects with minimal financial value
- How to donate to an institution
- Match the item to the institution
- Successful donations
- Tax implications? Ask an expert!
STEP 3: Set up a genealogical "will"
9. Who wants your genaelogy collection
- Identify future custodians
- Ask permissions to bequeath
- Smooth the way for heirs
- What and where?
- Share your cousin connections
10. Write your genealogical "will"
- Four reasons to write a genealogical "will"
- What to include in a genealogical "will"
- Think about your own situation
- Have a contingency plan
STEP 4: Share with heirs
11. Bring family history alive
- Know your audience
- Use photos to intrigue
- Take a field trip
- Tell the stories
- Write your family's history
- Make a commemorative keepsake
- DNA analysis can grab attention
- Put your PASS plan into action
Online Resources for Your PASS Plan
Sample Forms for Your PASS Plan