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Emptying a Cousin’s File Cabinet

An old filing cabinet in my office has four drawers. They are crammed full of folders. They contain the lifetime genealogical research of my dad’s first cousin who began the work when she was 18 and died at ninety-three. Seventy-five years of loving, careful investigation and documentation. I face the job of reviewing it all and disposing of these papers in some way.

Our common ancestry is our Reed line, and much of the material in the cabinet pertains to that lineage. This cousin often sent me copies of her work, and I suspect I have duplicates of many of her documents in my own files.

Merging our work has seemed a monumental task, and I have put it off for a very long time. The cabinet continues to sit there, challenging me to do something with it.

As I have resolved to continue the Reed research this year, I decided to begin at last by pulling the Reed files from her cabinet for review.

The first folder included everything she had collected on her brother, Leslie H. Reed (1924-2008). It included so many treasures—his original birth and death certificates, newspaper clippings of accomplishments such a graduating from the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, and his marriage record from Italy.

This week I verified that all this information has been entered into my own database. I made copies for my own records of any document I did not already have.

Now, the question arises of what to do with the originals. Should I return them to Leslie’s children who have no interest in genealogy? Should I add them to my archival box of Reed original documents?

I am still pondering this question.

In the meantime, the filing cabinet contains one fewer file folder.

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