Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     With the continued popularity of genealogy in the United States, nearly every household has a few relatives working on the family tree. Naturally, those relatives vary in the length of time they have been tracing the various ancestral lines. Eventually, most genealogists—if not all—will ask the question: “What happens to my research after I’m gone?” Utilizing her own experience in seeking a solution, Marian Burk Wood provides helpful, practical answers and advice in her new book, PLANNING A FUTURE FOR YOUR FAMILY’S PAST: HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR GENEALOGY MATERIALS, MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR COLLECTIONS, AND PASS WHAT YOU KNOW TO FUTURE GENERATIONS.

     Pointing out that it is never too early to start planning, this concise step-by-step guide focuses on a process the author calls PASS, which is composed of four basic steps:

Prepare by organizing materials,
llocate ownership,
et up a genealogical “will,”
hare with heirs.

Wood then proceeds to explain clearly and thoroughly the individual steps, breaking each down into smaller parts that make up the whole.

     Regarding step P, for example, she discusses different styles and categories of sorting, options for storage, and preservation of various formats of materials, such as pictures, movies, slides, digital images, and e-mails. Step A concerns sorting items for the family, donating unwanted artifacts to an institution, and exploring possible tax implications. The first S involves the identification of future custodians, reasons for making a genealogical “will,” and contingency plans. Finally, the second S pertains to suggestions about writing your family history and how to make it come alive so future generations will become interested. At the end of every chapter, the author concisely sums up the highlights so the reader can review them at a glance.

     Scattered throughout the narrative are useful websites. At the end of the book are a handy reference list of online resources for the PASS plan and sample forms for a genealogical will, an inventory and an index of genealogical materials, and a cousin connections finder.

     Wood’s simple four-step method is a sensible process that anyone can do and it can be done in large or small chunks of time, depending on the individual’s schedule and preference. In addition, it can be as inexpensive or expensive as the individual decides, making it accessible to people at all economic levels.

     Although the book's goal is the dispersal of materials in the future, the tips for organizing and sharing data are advice all genealogists can follow as they accumulate materials throughout their years of research. Written in plain every-day language, the text is easy to read and understand. Photographs and various illustrations enhance the narrative. Full of practical solutions, PLANNING A FUTURE FOR YOUR FAMILY’S PAST: HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR GENEALOGY MATERIALS, MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR COLLECTIONS, AND PASS WHAT YOU KNOW TO FUTURE GENERATIONS will make an excellent Christmas present for the genealogists in your family.

     The 98-page paperback has attractive covers, photographs, illustrations, and a topical index. The informative volume is available in print or Kindle format at

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