Today is Archives MayDay 2016 – the one day each year when the entire archives profession pays attention to emergency preparedness by writing, reviewing, and revising disaster preparedness plans.

At home, too often our emergency planning takes second place to more pressing demands. So I think it’s smart to take a leaf from the Society of American Archivists and take time today to review the emergency plans for your family history data. (I’m going to assume that everyone has already ensured their personal safety so that we can focus on data. But if you need to improve your personal safety measures, visit

A starting place for your data and papers:

  1. Are you backing up your data?
  2. If you are, could you grab that hard drive and go with only a few minutes’ warning?
  3. Is that backup automated? Don’t depend on remembering once a month to make a backup. Let your software do it for you.
  4. Have you stored your hard-copy family papers and photographs in a cool, dark, dry environment or are they still in the attic or basement or garage?
  5. Have you stored duplicates of your family tree files and important scans in Dropbox, Carbonite, CrashPlan, or another cloud-computing service?
  6. Does more than one person in your household know what the plan is for saving your family data?

What other strategies are you using to insure the safety of your research?Links below offer specific information by format of family records.

Remember you are not just the genealogist for your family: you are also the family archivist. So take a moment today to review and plan for the unexpected. Archives MayDay 2016 is the perfect day to get started.