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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Heirloom Hunting

    Sunny Jane Morton Interviews The Family Curator for Family Tree Magazine

    Not everyone inherits a family archive. But Sunny Jane Morton's article in the Oct-Nov 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine is full of ideas for finding ancestral artifacts, documents, and photos. 

    Sunny called me last summer to talk about elusive family heirlooms, how to identify them and where to find them. I talked to her by cell phone standing in my in-law's nearly empty living room where my husband and I had been sorting and organizing for weeks. When she asked me What makes a family heirloom? I had to laugh. It wasn't the beautiful grandfather clock still standing against the wall that my husband treasured most from his family home; instead, he brought home a walking stick he once carved for his dad.

    One person's family heirloom is another person's trash. That's probably why so many family artifacts end up on auction sites and thrift stores. Not everyone wants to keep a box of old snapshots showing grams and gramps in front of their house proudly holding the new baby. 

    Sunny's article, "Heirloom Hunting" offers ideas for identifying family treasures in your own home and those found elsewhere, like a tournament trophy displayed at a local country club, or a school yearbook or photo in the local historical society. She also presents tips from experts Joy Shivar, JustaJoy heirloom exchange service and Nancy Howell, eBay genealogical document dealer on how to find family treasures that might be for sale.

    If you are fortunate enough to locate and bring home "new to you" family heirlooms, you'll want to safely preserve and store them for future generations. My new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes offers specific instructions for caring for everything from correspondence and photos to film and cassettes; from furniture and jewelry to military and scouting memorabilia; from china and glassware to dolls and toys, and much much more.

    Talking with Sunny reminded me how easy it is to lose family history because our memories become entwined with tangible objects, whether it's a walking stick or a photograph. It's a good idea to write down the story of the heirloom and keep it with the item, if possible.

    If you've ever wished you inherited more than a surname from your ancestors, you may find ideas for discovering your own heirlooms in Sunny's new article for Family Tree Magazine.

    The October-November 2012 issue also features articles

    • Stolen Moments, by Lisa Alzo -- finding more research time
    • Preventive Medicine, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack --working with sources
    • Genealogy GPS, by Sunny Jane Morton -- evaluating research with the GPS
    • Weekend Warrior, by David A. Fryxell -- 7 weekend genealogy projects
    • Your Latin American Genealogy Journey, by Chris Staats -- research resources
    • Researching Quaker Ancestors, by James M. Beidler -- religious records
    • Houston City Guide, by Amy Coffin
    • Fort Wayne, Indiana City Guide, by Sunny Jane Morton

    Family Tree Magazine is available from in print or digital editions.

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