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    Forums > Order out of Chaos

    Hi Denise,

    My daughter just gave me your book "How to Archive Family Keepsakes" for Christmas, and I've already read it cover to cover and I am inspired.

    I have always had a love for family treasures and a desire to preserve and share. Unfortunately, I have never taken the time to organize my archive. Your book gave me the inspiration to get started. I especially loved your ideas about the purpose for your archive and your role. I'm doing some serious soul-searching to define my archive purpose and my role.

    One difference between my archive and the family archive you describe is that the archives you talk of come in a set of boxes at one time. I have collected things over the years from various people and generally it was an item at a time. In addition, I have become the keeper of the stuff for both my family and my husband's family, and I love the stuff, but it's taking over my life and home!!

    After reading your book, it sounds like the way to make progress is to at least identify the collections I have and move them into one physical location, then start the processing, cataloging, and preserving process. Your book has given me some structure and a place to begin and the hope that I can really make some progress with the stuff and leave my daughter family treasures and not family trash.

    Thanks for your inspiration. Do you have any ideas on how to roundup the treasures and contain them? I'm starting to identify some areas in my home where I can assemble collections. I'm thinking I should consolidate all the items I got from one person or source into one "collection" even if the items were acquired over a period of time. I think this will work for me and give structure to my project and help me to define scope.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, knowledge, and love for family treasures.

    December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Ann Wiseman

    Hello Beth! I am so glad to know that my book is helping you move forward with your project to organize your family keepsakes. It's a big job, but so worthwhile. I grappled with my role as "keeper of the stuff" for a long time before realizing that it's okay to have different goals for my collections. For some things, I am merely the Caretaker, for others, I see myself as Curator or Creator.

    You make a great point about how we actually acquire family keepsakes. I hadn't thought about it before you mentioned it, but I've inherited many things one by one. And you are so right... those are the things that tend to get scattered about the house. Before you start collecting all those stray artifacts to contain them in one place, I would ask "What is your end goal?" If you want your family to recognize an item as a family treasure, you could also identify it in other ways.

    I keep papers and documents in archival boxes divided by owner, but I do have a few pieces of my grandmother's, mother's, and aunt's china stashed in my china cupboard where I can enjoy and use them. Some of these pieces have a handwritten note inside or on the bottom explaining their significance. I really should do that for each one. I've also taken photos and used captions or tags to identify the items; that way I can make a "photo collection" of my mom's treasures and of my aunt's treasures. It identifies the item, and captions give a bit of the backstory.

    I like your idea to assemble your treasures into collections, too. You didn't say what kind of items you are working with, but you may find additional meaning in them when they are grouped together. My aunt had a little display in a cabinet of a photograph of her mother along with some things she had treasured -- silver teaspoons, hatpins, and buttons. Together they made a nice display.

    If you are working with photos or documents, I'd suggest that you investigate archival storage containers to protect the items from deterioration. It is surprising to see how much permanent damage is caused by light and air. Several suppliers are listed in the resource sections of my book.

    I would love to know more about the treasures you are working with, and what you find is working best for your situation.
    Thanks again for taking time to leave a note. ~ Denise

    December 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator

    Denise,Thank you for your book and for all your helpful hints and recommendations in helping me get organized! This year, I have decided to quit procrastinating and have begun the project of organizing all my papers, documents, letters and photographs. So far, I have put a small dent into my boxes. One of the things I have been doing is scanning photographs, then sending the originals back to the friends or relatives that are in the pictures. I have had to do some research of the pictures from the 30's, 40's and 50's to find the friends of our parents or their children and so far everyone has been looking forward to receiving pictures of their parents or grandparents in their younger days. Other photographs from the 20's and 30's, after I scanned them and labeled them, I have been sending to historical societies in the towns they were taken (after I called and asked if they wanted them). I feel that there will be more people that will enjoy seeing themselves or relatives in these old school pictures or articles in old newspapers then me keeping them in my possession. Of course, anything from our immediate families, I am keeping and preserving under your recommendations. What fun it is to handle everything and remember all the family members that have come before me and at the same time wonder about those that will come after me and if they will enjoy all these treasures as I do. Sandra

    December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Jerome Atwood

    What a wonderful project, Sandra. I'm happy to know that How to Archive Family Keepsakes has helped you take control of your photos and papers. And, I LOVE your photo project! What a great idea. You've found a wonderful way to share the family legacy and lighten your own archive load. I can only imagine the thrill ahead for families and friends who are receive your photo packets. For some, these may be the only pictures of their relatives. Please write back and share some of the reactions you receive.

    December 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterFamily Curator
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