Homeland Security and your Genealogy

On 14 Aug 2008, The State of Utah Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security presented me and the Genealogical Institute, Inc. with an award in Recognition of Readiness–”For your commitment to better prepare the workplace by completing the Ready Your Business Workshop Series: 12-Point Program for Business Continuity Planning. ”

The presentation was part of an all-day Conference on Be Ready Utah.  I was only one of many throughout Utah who took the workshop series.  I was one of few who were recognized publicly with official photos and presentation by the government. But the award is not the purpose of this Genealogy News Sheet.

So what is the purpose?

Your genealogy and its protection in time of chaos.

The Bob King, Director of Retail Sales for Associated Foods, described the chaos of an earthquake in the small Nevada town of Wells.   And how advance planning, and a fleet of trucks, and a network of contacts, enabled their grocery store damaged at 6:19  a.m. to re-open for emergency water and other necessities including disposable cameras at 6:00 p.m. The contrast between the coordinated efforts of this giant supplier and the unprepared town and government services it supported was immense.

Then Kerry Pettingill, Director, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, answered the question in lots of our heads:  “Why would anyone attack my business?”  He described with words and personal photos,  the chaos  19 Apr 1995 at 9:00 a.m. when a Federal building was bombed by a parked truck.

168 people were killed.  People were killed in the building across the street.  People were killed in a nearby restaurant.  People were killed on the street–walking along minding their own business.

“You don’t have to be a target to be affected by the blast wave and its aftermath.  324 buildings were damaged in the bombing.”  Pettingill showed the police corridor that closed off a substantial section of the city–no one was allowed in.  And as the corridor shrinked through the next days and weeks, there were still several city blocks where no one could enter.  To check for loss or damage.  To retrieve items essential to operations in which they were involved.

Only credentialed and critical personnel were given access–for days!

Where is your genealogy?

In the basement in card board boxes?  In the garage in card board boxes?  Or loose papers on shelves or stuffed into the drawers of discarded bureaus and chests?  Or lying in old trunks stacked in the corner of the utility shed?

On your computer hard drive?  Or stored on discontinued and obsolete floppies?

Organized and tidy on the shelves and in file cabinets in your genealogy room or corner?

This is a wake-up call for us all:

If your genealogy is digital, purchase a handful of memory sticks.  Transfer multiple copies of your files to them.  Send them to your family members and to me.  Different towns, different venues in those towns.  And if you are a woman, whose surname changes each time you marry, be sure at least one copy goes to a male of your ancestral surname–who can be tracked.

If your genealogy is online.  Circulate pin and password to family members, so your hard work can be retrieved.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get access  to password-protected data?  Takes weeks of documentation that you have a right to access the stuff.  If you are gone, your work may be locked up tight!

If your genealogy is still in paper files–copy them.  And send a copy somewhere else where it will not be subject to the same risks your originals are.

Natural disasters are increasing each year.  In a recent Utah poll,  Dan Jones discovered that more than 80% of the Utah population at large believes that we will be part of a major disaster within the next 10 years.

Herbert Hoover stated 23 May 1927, when New Orleans was under 30 feet of water from Jan to Aug that year:  “Reconstruction is the most trying period of any disaster.” And Oklahoma City, after more than 10 years, is still reconstructing.

The Genealogy Library Center, established by me and my husband Alma,  for a place to preserve and store genealogy manuscripts and books that might otherwise be destroyed, is still reconstructing.  Since I am financing this enterprise myself,  work on the structure progresses as I get enough money saved to do another part.  And since I am working with volunteers, preparing the manuscripts for public use, progress is dependent upon our collective efforts.

Watch this Genealogy News Sheet and my Home Page for progress reports and updates.  With that said, two large sections of the building are finished.  And secure.  And we are working in and out of these sections.

Your genealogy will be as safe as I can make it.  That is why I took the initial Ready Your Business training and why I attended the Conference.  And I will continue to keep informed and trained so that genealogy given to me for safe-keeping will remain safe.

I have even changed my modus operandi of analysis–I do not lay my files on the floor.  Some years ago my office was flooded by vandals who broke into the building looking for money.  In those offices where they found none, they turned on the fire hoses.  The fire department lifted as much stuff out of the water as they could find places to set it.  The building guard summoned me at 1:00 am to come rescue what I could.

We were very lucky.  I was working on only one project that week.  And my large personal library was on shelves.  I could dry the papers and copy them.  We were very lucky.

When the new sewer pipeline was laid down my street, the construction company took out the old pipeline with its backhoe–without connecting the new line.  My basement was ankle deep in raw sewage.  I lost no genealogy papers or books or CD’s or files of any kind.  Everything was protected.  We were very lucky.

This is not something that can be put-off.  If your genealogy could be in jeopardy, send it to me.   If you haven’t the time or the space to protect your work, I do and I can and I will.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http:www.arleneeakle.com

PS  Homeland Security spends much time learning from each event they participate in and then sharing those lessons learned.  The biggest lesson learned in my experience–share copies of your work to safeguard your legacy.  You and I owe it to our posterity to safeguard these precious data.

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