Think twice before you de-clutter

I recently read an online post by Maureen Taylor “the photo detective.” Maureen is an internationally known genealogist whose specialty is identifying and preserving photos. She posted her alarm at the de-cluttering rage sweeping the country.

It’s not that she doesn’t favor de-cluttering your home (I wish someone would do that for me!) but she’s alarmed at the advice some of the expert de-clutterers are recommending regarding family photos. It seems some so-called experts advise people to look at the photos once then discard them! For a genealogist this is heresy.

Even If you don’t know who is in an old photo please reconsider discarding the picture. Once a photo is destroyed it can never be retrieved. The lady in the magnificent bonnet may someday be identified as your great-grandmother and the man in the World War I uniform your great-uncle.

Tossing out family photos is never a good idea. If you must discard photos try to find a relative who would like them or an archive or historical society that will preserve them. I recently identified four photos from my Mother’s collection of unidentified photos. By uncovering an unknown line I now know who the photos portray and I am so glad I have these images which may be the only ones in the family.

If you de-clutter please don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Treasure the images of your family’s history even if you’ve yet to identify just who the lady in the magnificent hat is.

Update on the online front

There have been developments on the Family Tree Maker (FTM) front since my recent column on Ancestry’s decision to suspend updates and new editions as of January 1, 2017. Ancestry just announced that they have sold their FTM software to MacKiev. MacKiev has been producing the Mac version of FTM for seven years and will now take on the Windows version. They’ll be issuing updates, providing tech support, linking with Ancestry, and issuing new editions.

Some have expressed reservations about trusting a software company based in the Ukraine because of the political situation. As far as I know there have been no issues with the Mac version of FTM despite the turmoil in that part of Europe over the last several years. For those of you who love FTM this means you will be able to keep your favorite software operational. I wish Ancestry had made this arrangement before they announced they were ending support of FTM since many users have already switched genealogical software.

If you decide to remain with FTM be sure to keep your software current and have several backups in case the day comes when you need to move your files.

Also, Roots Magic (RM) software has arranged to offer direct links to Ancestry sometime later this year. RM, a popular genealogical software, will allow users to search, download and upload to Ancestry’s online trees, exactly as FTM users can do now. RM is an American company if that makes you feel more secure.

 Columnist Nancy Battick of Dover-Foxcroft has researched genealogy for over 30 years. She is past president of the Maine Genealogical Society. Reader emails are welcome at Her semimonthly column is sponsored by the Aroostook County Genealogical Society which meets the fourth Monday of the month except in July and December at the Caribou Library at 6:30 p.m. Guests are always welcome. FMI contact Edwin “J” Bullard at 492-5501.