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Progress on The Box

Several years ago, I acquired the genealogy library and research materials that had belonged to my father’s cousin. She lived to be 93 years old and had studied family history all her life. She had a lot of stuff.

I have filed most of it away in my own office. We purchased IKEA bookshelves for her 300+ books of genealogical records. We placed her voluminous research notebooks in another bookcase. We made room for her filing cabinet alongside ours. All is stored away, awaiting a good purging.

That left The Box. I have written about it before. It contained loose papers, in no particular order, on every conceivable ancestor. It sat in a corner of the room where it challenged me to deal with it every time I walked past.

I decided that 2022 was the year to empty it.

Some of the materials already had been organized into file folders. I went through each one, discarding old correspondence with vendors and then placing the folders in her file cabinet.

That left about 18″ of loose papers. At first, I thought I could avoid being overwhelmed by this stack if I just filed a couple of pages a day.

After a week or two, I realized this was unworkable. These pages included records our cousin had transcribed, family group sheets and trees she had built, and RootsWeb messages she had printed off. I needed a filing structure for this work.

I decided instead to do a rough sort by state, surname, or family tree. I made file folders for each category. Then, as I watched TV, I began sorting the stack of papers. I placed items in the new folders as I went along. I made room for these in her filing cabinet until I can figure out which records to keep and which to discard.

Now I am about halfway through what remained in the box. I can see the day when it no longer takes up floor and table space in my office.

When I am finished with this phase, it will be time to set up a schedule for the long overdue purging of my cousin’s records. She and I shared our paternal Reed line, and I plan to keep everything about them. I do not need her maternal Neal materials.

I can donate books about the areas where the Neals lived to the Denver Public Library or the Bemis Public Library in Littleton, Colorado. I am not sure yet what I can do with the Neal papers. Our cousin had no children, and her brother’s children did not seem interested in family history when they gave all this to me.

Perhaps as they grow older, they will change their minds. They will be my first stop when it is time to find a new home for their family records.

Once I finish up with The Box, I can move on to the next phase of slimming down all this research material. My husband/tech advisor will be happy to see me finally do it. It would be nice to reclaim some office space and enjoy a less cluttered look.

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