Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Collecting vs. Saving: Archiving Family Keepsakes

Here’s that word again . . . Organization. But instead of focusing on the physical aspect of organizing, let’s turn our efforts to quantifying, i.e.: purpose, vision, itemizing, detailing, cataloging, and then creating.
Objectives: the reasons you want to archive your family keepsakes. What is your motivation? Is there validation in your intention? The catalyst can be a simple incentive, such as saving that antique meat grinder of her grandmother’s. Or your father’s cigar box. Sit down and have a talk with yourself and then share your thoughts with your family. Saving should be fun and not burdensome. Give it, yourself and your family time.

The Plan: Architects and designers start out with a vision. What’s yours? Here is a chance to get back to basics by actually taking pencil, paper and a ruler in hand and draw out how you envision your archival space. Sketch an image. When my family decided to create our Family Museum, I sat down and drew a picture, measuring the available space along the way. Ask the family for their ideas, how they see it. Make this a family affair.

Documenting: Start by taking a photograph of each heirloom. Record which relative owned the object and tell the object’s story. What is it? Who owned it? And why is it important to the family? Place photographs in boxes, a box for each person. Once the boxes are filled and others are needed, do so. Once the photographs are in their proper box, organize each box, starting with dates, and if no dates are found, give a good guesstimate. There are many photo-journaling sites that have a variety of online tutorials and products that offer guidance on how to document photographs. Visit this site and you might recognize a familiar link.  https://www.mycanvas.com/ 
NOTE: A post from 04/2014, I wrote about making Memory Boxes for each family member. During our lifetimes, we accumulate many little things that mean a lot and instead of stashing them in a non-descript box, make a Memory Box. Fill it with all those odd-ball things and as the post said, give it as a present. You will be surprised at how thrilled the owner of those things are and glad that you took the time and thought to save it for them. Hopefully, they will take it from there.   http://howtocreateafamilymuseum.blogspot.com/2014/04/thanks-for-memories.html

This is also the best time to create an inventory. Look at it this way – you are organizing the future. History as taught us that if it were not for the physical inventories taken by households from the past, diligently logged into and recorded in both small and large books for posterity, how would our descendants know what we had. They wouldn’t.
Also, this is a good time to make vocal recordings. Voice is magic. Document it! http://www.familytreemagazine.com/article/getting-the-word
Separating: Here comes the piles! Stacks and heaps of paper, however, don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. All of these physical records can be organized, a little at a time. The importance of the papers should be considered first. What kind are they? Property Deeds, Wills, Certificates. Get file folders, title each one and put the corresponding documents in that folder.
Once this is finished, digitize the paper documents. Check this site for help. http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/ 

Objective/þ, Your Plan/þ, Documenting/þ, Inventory/þ, Recordings/þ, Separating/Digitizing/þ. Now you are ready to create your Family Museum. Check out this post: http://howtocreateafamilymuseum.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-to-build-family-museum-building.html on building materials. Then read this post on where there is space: http://howtocreateafamilymuseum.blogspot.com/2014/03/where-there-is-space-in-your-home.html 

As you peruse these and other posts, many of your questions will be answered. The purpose, the rationale, the function and the intent should be foremost in your mind: your Family Museum is where to . . .
"Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future."  Quote by: Mattie Stepanek

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