To try it out, I selected a slim folder from my Farmer family research. My mission: to digitize the file and deal with the paper.
First, I took a look over each piece of paper in the file and decided if any of it was trash. Surprisingly, there were four things I could throw away. One was a printed email of someone researching the name from who knows how long ago, not related to me. One was a cryptic sheet of notebook paper with a few names, no indication of where it came from, useless.
Second, I determined what I absolutely could not throw out. These included photos and certified copies of death certificates. After scanning, these went right back into the file. The .pdfs got uploaded to Evernote.
Third, what could I scan and dispose of? I decided that handwritten notes containing abstracts of censuses and books fell into this category. I'd already put that information into my genealogy database (good old Family Tree Maker) ages ago. I scanned it to my desktop, where the .pdfs will remain. These also got sent to Evernote, but where I had 12 sheets of paper containing census abstracts, I now have two neat digital "notes".
(Confession: I technically haven't really thrown any of this out yet. I'm going to have to let it sit on the table today while I'm at work and carry out the disposal tonight. Consider it a wake, if you will.)
Lastly, there are some photocopies I made of original records. These are the toughest call for me. I will of course scan them and upload to Evernote. I don't think I can let go of this paper just yet. I'm going to let time tell me what to do on this one.
George Thomas Farmer (1861-possibly 1924)
brother of my great-great grandfather J.P. Farmer