Some useful Advice from Tracy St. Claire on Preserving
Bible Records Online http://www.biblerecords.com/
After examining a lot of family Bibles, reuniting family Bibles and talking people out of donating family Bibles, I feel somewhat qualified to speak on this subject. Here are a few things to do with your family Bibles to make sure that they continue to be the family Bible for generations to come.
1. Use it. Even if your family is not particularly religious, bring out the Bible regularly and make sure everyone sees it. Read from it on appropriate occasions and work it into weddings and funerals if appropriate. But wait! It is fragile! The kids will color on it!
2. That does not mean being lax with care. First, have it professionally repaired and reinforced if necessary in order to allow for use and careful handling on an occasional basis.
Obviously do not use it for your everyday devotional Bible. A good conservator can do wonders with Bibles in even poor condition, and can add pages for genealogy, replace pages that are missing with facsimiles, etc. They can also neutralize the acid in pages. Do not cheap out here. Go to a good professional conservator. Obviously, let the kids see and wonder at the old Bible but not unsupervised. Keep under lock and key.
***Do not hide the Bible away where no one knows it exists.
When you die, it will go in the estate sale.****
3. Get another one. Depending on what family Bible you have, you may be able to get an exact replacement on eBay for not a whole lot of money. Make good color photocopies of the entries
in your original and place them in the replica. Voila! Two family Bibles (or three or four) that can be handed down, doubling the
chances that the Bible info will survive fire, flood, apathy, etc.
4. Digitize and share the information.
Scan or photocopy the information and put it on the Internet at
my site -- www.biblerecords.com -- or Rootsweb, or The National
Genealogical Society or the Library of Virginia. Send copies to
the appropriate historical societies and libraries. Share it with
all family members who are interested. But please, get the
information moved to another place in case something should
happen to the book itself.
5. Record new information in it. This is a really common question
that I get all of the time. The answers here were right on the mark.
Not only is it OK that you write new information in the family Bible,
it is critical for the survival of the Bible that you do so. Retroactive
listings are a bit iffier -- as genealogists, we all know that dates from
differing sources can be wrong. This is true even if your Bible is from
the 1600s. The biggest objection I hear, incredibly, is that it will
ruin its value. I am not sure that is true, but that is of little importance
if you are planning on never selling it. I did get into a heated debate
where someone pointed out that an expensive Bible could be
used as collateral for a loan, anchored by an appraisal that the
Bible was worth $75,000, but the appraised value would come
back lower if you wrote all over it. So OK -- if you have a 1611 He
Bible, ask your tax accountant for genealogy advice.
6. Work out a plan for passing it down in the family. This gets
to be a complicated, callous and sometimes sexist discussion.
Wait until your kids are all older to determine who gets the family
Bible. The oldest should not necessarily be the one to get it, nor
the unmarried child who never left get it by default. Some people
think that males should get the family Bible because their descendants
would logically recognize the names and not pitch the Bible due to
lack of interest. The child who gets the Bible should have some
genealogy interest and hopefully some descendants of his own to
pass it to, or a plan to get it to some nieces or nephews. There
should be some discussion of this in your house.
7. One Last Thing --
Supposing you are the last of your line, or the members of
your family truly do not want your Bible. This happens.*
Do not DONATE the Bible to the local historical society.
They do not want it. They do not have room for it. They will
likely cut out the genealogy pages and sell the book itself,
unless they happen to have a whole lot of room. Once you
make the donation, you have no control over what happens
to the item itself, and the possibility that the Bible will be
there for relatives to visit is slim.
Definitely copy the records and give it to them -- in fact, do that
NOW, but go on Rootsweb, and find a genealogically-interested
descendent to pass the Bible on to, so that the Bible will live
Don't send it to me, either, although I will take it as a last resort
(and have taken them).
*Sometimes when I purchase a Bible on eBay, I find that
it is THEIR family Bible they are selling me, for say $20. It
happens. Under no begging and reasoning can I seem to
convert non-believers. I've seen them sell the Bible, old photos,
all knowing who they are. Some people! We should all be that lucky.