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Ancestors host Scott Wilkinson and expert Irene Johnson discuss how our own carelessness contributes to record destruction.

college transcript Nature destroys many family and archived records, but people do far more damage by harming, ruining and destroying family's records, intentionally or through carelessness. Sometimes this is also done on a large scale, such as the deliberate destruction of records that took place during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia or the Cultural Revolution in China. These entailed intentional efforts to destroy the records of the country's past, allowing those in power free reign to rewrite history.

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Ancestors host Scott Wilkinson and Russian genealogy expert Igor Sahkarov talk about the deliberate destruction of records.

While some of us have been genealogically affected by such events, many more of us have been victims of small scale destruction. Too often, people decide not to save important items. They clean house and throw away old items, including several things that, if they survived, would be cherished by later generations. Landfill workers often see old photographs, letters, books and finance records churn up in front of earth movers.

Ration Book If items are not thrown away, damaged or destroyed intentionally, people often allow them to become damaged through neglect. Instead of carefully storing items, they casually toss them in drawers, grocery sacks, shoe boxes, and on attic and garage shelves, where the items become dirty, bent, torn, damp, moldy, or otherwise damaged. Also, people leave items where direct sunlight can strike them, or close to fluorescent lights that fade their color.

When a California congressman died, the family's situation was so rushed and so emotional that the deceased's daughter-in-law hired someone to clean out his house from attic to basement. The congressman's career papers were sent to the garbage dump.

Moving can be so awful that bodies become tired of packing and loading, and boxes are in short supply. Harried movers are glad to throw away old materials that have no immediate usefulness. When people move into smaller housing - when parents move from the family home into a condo or apartment, for example - they are forced to get rid of many of their belongings. Out go piles of unorganized papers, broken or unused items, and old stuff that seems more like clutter than anything valuable.

 

The information contained on this page comes from a variety of sources, but relies heavily on The Everything Family Tree Book by William G. Hartley (Adams Media, 1998) and Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide to Family History & Genealogy by Jim & Terry Willard with Jane Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997).

 
 
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