Today is MayDay – 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. Have you stored your family papers in a cool, dark, dry environment or are they still in the attic or basement or garage?
4. Have you stored duplicates of your family tree files and important scans in Dropbox or another cloud-computing service?
5. 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?

Remember you are not just the genealogist for your family: you are also the archivist. So take a moment today to review and plan for the unexpected.