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Project 3: Docs and Photos

Goal 1: Gather Your Records

Tracker: Online or Word | Transl. Videos

Goal 1: Gather and safeguard your own important personal records. Vault

Preserving your own personal records gets you off to a good start and helps you protect your valuable information.


A Gather your own important records.

  1. Locate and safely store your birth certificate, religious records, marriage certificate, legal documents, etc.
  2. If you are missing any important records, arrange to get replacements of them.
  3. Here are some helpful ideas for gathering your own family history records.

    FS—Gather Family Information

  4. Watch this video to learn about creating your own memories to pass on to the next generation.

    RT—Making Memories of You—54:52


B Gather photos and documents you have of your ancestors.

  1. Record what you know from records and sources easily available.

    FS—Record What You Know (3:36)
    BYU—Creating a Family Archive (19:00)   Gather Heirlooms and Documents
      Keep or Toss
      Preserve and Protect
      What to Do with Paper
      Dealing with Photos

  2. Learn how to find the treasures in family records that are in your possession.

    BYU—Inherited Records? Now What? —43:08   Sort

  3. Learn more about family records and how you can use them. Examples include journals, diaries, letters, photographs, and family bibles.

    BYU—Family Records—24:23
    FS—U.S. Bible Records

  4. Watch this video for guidelines on deciding whether objects are heirlooms, documentation, or junk.

    RT—Heirloom, Documentation or Junk: What to Keep or Toss —47:57


C Make scans or paper copies of each document or photo to serve as backups.

  1. If you don't have access to a scanner, visit a library or family history center to use one, or use a digital camera to make digital copies. For tips on scanning, see Goal 5.
  2. Back up digital copies to external devices (thumb drive, etc.) or to the Internet.
  3. Use Google Photos to back up and store your family history photos.

    MH—Google Photos: one photo app to rule them all—88:00

  4. Read these tips on backing up your smartphone photos.

    AC—Backing Up Smartphone Photos

  5. Learn about different formats for your digital files.

    Digitizing Family Photos and Records: What's the Best Format to Use?
  6. Learn how to archive your family history memories.

    GTV: How to Archive Your Family History Documents, Photos, & Artifacts—34:58


D Protect and preserve your original documents and backups.


  1. Store original documents and backups in separate, secure locations.
  2. Choose a safe, dry place for physical copies.
  3. Explore the CollectionCareTips site for ideas on preserving important photos and documents.
  4. Visit the Library of Congress site for ideas on preserving many types of archives.
  5. Learn about digital preservation of your family history records.

    Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally

  6. Learn about backing up your files on genealogy websites.

    Why You Should Download Your Files From Ancestry and Every Other Website

  7. Here are some tips for preserving old family letters and books.

    MH—Preserving Old Family Letters
    FS: How to Preserve and Restore Family Records and Books

  8. For more ideas on preserving documents and photos, read these articles.

    FS—Simple Steps to Preserve Your Precious Family Memories
    Preserving Your Photographs

  9. Learn how to preserve old newspaper clippings.

    MH—W5 Easy Steps to Preserving Newspaper Clippings


E (Optional) Restore damaged photographs when possible.

  1. Learn about restoring photographs in this article.

    GC—Restoring Damaged Photographs

  2. Here are some tips on making bad family photos better.

    AC—5 Easy Ways to Fix Bad Family Photos

  3. Get help restoring or dating your photographs from members of the RootsChat forum.