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Most valuable documents

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What are your most prized documents?

Which documents do you value the most? If you're like 1 in 4 Americans, you choose family photos—over Social Security cards, birth certificates, financial information, passport, marriage certificates, kids' drawings, health records/immunizations/medical prescriptions, divorce decrees and even last wills and testaments. More than twice as many women (32%) as men (15%) say family photos are the most valuable to them.

These findings came from a survey that we asked Harris Interactive to conduct online with more than 900 U.S. workers between March 18 and March 20, 2014 using its QuickQuery Omnibus platform.


Valued, yes, but also paper based and disorganized

While it may not surprise you that family photos are highly prized, the survey results show a gap between how much we value our photos and how well we protect them.

  • 87% of the respondents said their most valuable documents are paper based.
  • 29% say their most valuable documents are “barely manageable” because things are in different places and they're disorganized.
  • 20% say they have previously lost valuable documented information.
  • 31% say they could not locate all of their valuable documented information quickly.
Isn't paper supposed to be going away in favor of electronic files? Apparently not anytime soon. While 50% of Americans understand the benefits of digital documents, they don't believe paper will go away completely. The fact is that many in our society still rely on paper and find it meaningful to hold a paper document, even though many Americans are trying to reduce consumption. Those on the digital side of the issue might say we can get that nostalgic feeling while protecting our information and our world.

Recommendation: scan, duplicate and secure

If you want to protect important documents, like valued family photos, why not take the time to organize them and scan them. Or go further and make duplicate electronic files that can be stored on an external drive. And consider putting prints in a safe-deposit box.

Photos are memories, and we cherish both. Our own photos may hold the most meaning, but sometimes the photos of others remind us how important it is to pause, look and appreciate. The artists in our photo gallery have captured remarkable faces and breathtaking landscapes. Consider joining the community.
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