Genealogy: Document Overload

I’ve kept a trove of family information for years. And when I say “family, I mean troves of information from the 1830s on. That’s seven generations. What we have is actually quite remarkable: deeds, plat books, farm and legal records and most importantly, photographs from the 1860’s on. Truth be told, I have so much documentation of my family that, as a writer, it’s sort of a curse. There’s too much good material there. It’s caused me endless grief when it comes to deciding which family story to focus on and write about already.

But with the farm going up for sale and the house being cleared out, a whole new set of records, photos and other mementos have come my way.  I’m currently concerned about a box of farm records.

Here’s an example:



Yes, that is a ledger from 1955 that my great-uncle Silvis used to keep track of which cows were bred to what bull, heifers or bulls that were born of the union, etc. It also is a catalog for John Deere tractors and includes some handy dandy information about cotton picking.

When my dad found this box of documents, he asked me what I thought we should do with it. His take was that it’s kind of neat, but of no use or value to him. He caught me on a day when I was overwhelmed with the piles and piles of unsatisfying family facts and details and I didn’t automatically jump up and do my family conservator thing. He proposed that we just throw them out.

And then I had my usual gut reaction, which I’m honestly pretty sick and tired of right now, “NO!!!! You can’t throw them out!!! I’ll take them home.”


So here they sit in the hallway shelf outside of my office. I avert my eyes whenever I walk by because it seems wrong to just have them sitting there and collecting dust.

I mentioned this to a friend and she suggested, that as the farm was over 100 years old, maybe the agricultural department of a university would be interested in adding them to an archive.

Adding insult to injury, there must be so much dust inched into the papers that my allergies kick into high gear when I go near them. I’m rubbing my eyes and sneezing after simply pulling out the ledger book and taking three photos of it.


Categories: Genealogy, Research

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