For the past week, as I promised I would in this blog post, I’ve been going through a largish stash of genealogy-related paper that I found when I went in search of some tax documents. I vowed not to continue my online research (where I print nothing and don’t have to process paper) until this paper backlog was gone.
I’ve spent 30 minutes a day reducing the paper pile ever since. I’ve recycled a lot and I’ve scanned some documents. (I’m proud of myself that I scanned on the spot, rather than creating a “to scan” pile to deal with later.) It’s starting to get kind of tedious, but I’m really thrilled with my progress.
But here’s the thing that really hit me these last couple of days. Dealing with paper genealogy records puts a real strain on my eyes. I had sent away to the Alabama Archives for the Confederate pension records of my second great grandfather, Laban Taylor Rasco (1844-1926). They had kindly sent a whole bunch of paper, most of it downloaded from Ancestry. I think when I received it, I was overwhelmed and probably daunted by the fact that much of it was comprised of black-and-white prints of documents that were on yellowed paper at the time they were digitized. Very hard to read. That’s why the papers landed in the pile.
I’ve spent the last couple of days with these Alabama pension records, looking to see which of them I already have on my hard drive and then going to Ancestry to download better copies of the documents I didn’t already have digitally. (And I’m downloading a bunch of new-to-me pension documents from that collection at Ancestry while I’m at it.) In order to compare what I have (or what I find) with the paper version, I have to squint, dust off my magnifying glass, or move the paper to better light in order to read it. My eyes aren’t getting any better with age and this not my idea of fun.
Once the documents are on my hard drive, I can simply zoom in on them to read them. So easy. So painless. And a huge reason I favor digital over paper.
This little project has shown several benefits already: A reduction in paper hanging around my house (yay!) and an appreciation for the decision I made several years ago to eschew paper. I’m so glad I’m doing it!
If any of you who are joining me on this quest have enjoyed some benefits, please share in the comments!