Confessions of a Genealogy Hoarder

Image   We have all seen or at least heard of the reality TV series “Hoarder”. It is about people who have an obsession to keep everything they have ever owned and then they continue to add to it. They do this for various reasons but the results are the same:  a home filled to overflowing with stuff. This is how I feel sometimes with all the documents, notes, photos and books pertaining to Genealogy that I have accumulated over the years. I do try desperately to stay organized but sometimes it gets away from me. I have limited space and the piles seem to keep growing. When I have time, I try to go through all of it, but that isn’t as often as I would like. The question I keep asking myself is, “What do I really need to keep and what should I throw away?”

Case in point: While I was organizing my Death Certificates’ I found I had 5 copies of my Great Grandmothers DeathMartha Ann Ogan Hughes dc Certificate. I think my thought process was, “What if I happen to lose one? If I make several copies then I will be able to find it when I need it.” However once it was scanned into a folder in the computer and uploaded into my tree I then had a permanent copy I could find anytime. Also, if I have the original filed in a binder that is properly marked I would have easy access to that one too. Plus if I cite my source of where I obtained my information I could find it again if I needed to.  So why, oh why, do I feel compelled to save all 5 of the hard copies?

I do the same thing with most of my documents and ALL of my photos. Did I mention I love photos? Is it really an obsession or is it that just I don’t want to lose any of it? After all, some of the documents took years to find. Would this be considered trying to justify the hoarding?

making a vowI will make this declaration here: I, Valerie Hughes, will begin today (well maybe tomorrow or better yet next week, oh I meant to say next month) to sort through all of my duplicate notes, files and photos and discard them (or find a new place to stack them, or possibly put them in a file box and store them in the shed) and I will refrain from any more Hoarding.

Okay, I will, from this day forward just start calling it Antique Paper and Photo Collecting!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

27 thoughts on “Confessions of a Genealogy Hoarder

  1. Thanks for the laugh. Perhaps I should worry about me, as I understand completely. Now where did I put that………… 🙂

  2. Fun post Val and I’m sitting right there next to you! I like the idea of just calling it “Antique Paper and Photo Collecting!” Has a nice ring to it! LOL!!

  3. I keep imagining that maybe one day there will be this apocalypse scenario after which computers won’t work anymore or something. You and I and the other hoarders well be the only ones in town with usable family history sources.

    I have scores of death notices that should go first, because they are the easiest to get again if I should need them. I decided on this months ago, but I have yet to lift a finger to get rid of them. Oh well. Maybe next week.

    1. I like your thinking. We can just tell people….we are not hoarders we are hanging on to our paper sources so when the apocalypse comes we can still trace our heritage.

      Thanks for reading my blog!


  4. That is funny, the only thing I hoard are my 35 years of genealogy research, but it is all in one room and when I retire I will go through it all, really!!

    1. Yes, I do that too. This is one of the reasons I have a hard time throwing away the paper documents. It is the “What if I can’t access my tree” syndrome!

      Thanks for reading my Blog.


  5. Yes, my relative is the same way and stores many copies of family documents. What I’ve (we’ve) helped her do is not only keep one hard copy, but also store digitally so you have it all in one place and provides an extra set of protection.

  6. I have all of my genealogy stuff in one room – well, if I don’t count the things on my kitchen counter and the windowseat in the kitchen… To top it all off though, is that it was my craft room to begin with, so it’s also full of thing I bought to do crafts with, that I no longer have time for since I spend all my time doing genealogy. I can never find anything for anything!

  7. “I will make this declaration here: I, Valerie Hughes, will begin today (well maybe tomorrow or better yet next week, oh I meant to say next month) to sort ”

    Don’t you mean to say next year? lol

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