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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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    Entries in family tree mag (3)


    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.


    Hear Tips to Organize Your Family Archive on Family Tree Magazine Podcast

    I had a lot of fun talking with Lisa Louise Cooke recently about the Family Tree Magazine Organize Your Family Archive Expert Webinars where I had a chance to help Editor Allison Dolan with her inherited genealogy treasure trove. Our conversation is just part of the January 2012 Family Tree Podcast and also includes ideas for working with Evernote, using Social Media, and new collections available from Family Tree Magazine.

    The January podcast kicks off the year with a focus on "Making Over Your Research in 2012" with all kinds of information on new products, organizational ideas, and research techniques --

    • Diane Haddad reveals news from and WDYTYA
    • Lisa and Kerry Scott discuss using Evernote for genealogy
    • I share some tips from the Organize Your Family Archive Webinar
    • Allison Dolan describes the new Get Organized Collection

    You can also find more organizing ideas in the February 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine including my article, "Computer Cleanup."


    New Webinar - Help for Your Mountain of Memorabilia

    If you are drowning under a flotilla of ark-ives (thanks, Drew Smith!) or buried beneath a mountain of memorabilia, consider signing up for a the Organize Your Family Archive webinar I will be hosting Tuesday, 29 November 2011 for Family Tree University.

    Towering archive 1

    Early this Fall, Family Tree Magazine Editor Allison Stacy Dolan shared her inherited family archive with readers and asked for ideas to get control of the confusion. Allison inherited over two dozen boxes of family memorabilia and genealogy papers from her grandmother who recently downsized her home. Her legacy included everything from cabinet card photographs to soldier's letters home to scrapbooks and news clippings. I gave her a few ideas with my Short List, but she has a big project ahead.

    The webinar will focus on working with Allison to sort, organize, and preserve the assorted items in her family archive. We'll talk about figuring out

    • what she wants to do with the collection
    • how to easily inventory the contents
    • how to decide what to keep and what to throw away
    • how to organize, preserve, and store what she has left

    Registration for Organize Your Family Archive is now open with a $10 discount on registration through November 20. Hope to see you LIVE on November 29.