By Mary V. Danielsen of Documented Legacy
Now that you’ve spent months working to preserve your family’s memories, decide how you want the family archive to be handled by others. To ensure your family collection is available for future generations, we have developed some policies that you can share with family and friends when handling your family memories and others want access to your work. It’s compiled in the form of a letter. We suggest that you print out this letter and attach it to the boxes or binders where your family artifacts are stored. Feel free to revise them based on your own family’s needs. Every family is different.
I’ve greatly enjoyed being the custodian of family history and memories. There is an energy that’s shared when we talk about old times, the people in our lives, things that made us laugh, transitions, moments to remember, collected things and, even, changing technologies. Like genealogy, this is a fluid project. I’m thrilled you are interested to learn more.
Every good collection held by a museum or library has policies and rules that govern the entire collection. It should be no different with the work we compile protecting our personal histories. What we have compiled here are artifacts, really. Without care, we could easily lose a big piece of our personal history forever, without the possibility of duplication. Time and money has been spent compiling, organizing and keeping this collection safe.
Here are some policies for handling your family memories:
- Make an appointment.
- Plan ahead. If you’re working on a school project give yourself enough time to read, digest, copy, write and produce your final project. As the archive custodian I will assist you. College professors love to assign one week to acquire everything I spent years compiling.
- Come prepared. Bring your own equivalent of a preservation kit, but also grab the gadgets you use that will make this easier, like your camera, digital recorder, tablet, chargers, notebooks, and memory cards. Have both pencils and pens. Don’t forget to bring disposable gloves. They’re inexpensive and you can get an entire box at the grocery or drug store. Of course, pack your Flip-Pal© mobile scanner.
- Be patient. I have to explain details about how the collection is set up and organized.
- Put gloves on. Fingerprints and our body’s natural oils easily transfer to old documents and photos. Wash your hands first and then put on disposable gloves.
- No food or water in the area where you will be working. We’re all careful, but sometimes accidents happen. Make a practice of taking small breaks to get a drink in another room.
- Regarding loaners. It’s best if you come prepared to duplicate whatever items you need. We’d prefer that this family collection stay together.
- A place for everything and everything in place. In these policies for handling your family memories, if you take anything out of a file or box to view, photograph or copy, then put it back in the same place. (Leave yourself little notes about where you got it.) If you see any cracks, bugs, wear and tear or mold anywhere then alert me. If you know of a connection to anything in the extended family let me know. I’m always searching for new information.
- Help is always appreciated. If there is work that still needs to be done or a trip I’ve been meaning to take to get more information, I’d love your help. Let’s plan some time to get it done.
- Don’t toss it. If you see something that may look like garbage don’t throw it out because it might be important. Even a bookmark may have an important purpose in its location. Also, try to not cut anything out or tearing out pages – we are preserving things. Under no circumstances is any portion of this collection to be thrown out upon my death. I have left instructions in my legacy plan to help you in handling your family memories.
Feedback needed: Now that you’ve spent time looking through the family memories, let me know how it’s helped you, what you enjoyed and what you learned. What should we do next with this?