Moving boxes in attics, framed pictures stored in hot garages, shoe boxes in closets, in storage units mixed with old papers and Christmas ornaments, envelopes in desks and sliding about in dresser drawers . . . I’ve seen family photos and other memorabilia scattered throughout people’s homes. . . none of it preserved to hand down the family story.
As family members of one generation age and another generation emerges completely digitized, we need to try to preserve our family history in a sharable format. The time to begin is now, and the photos, cards, and letters we need to begin with are current. By starting today, you give yourself the opportunity to discover the unique sharable ways to keep your family story alive. I’m not an archivist, but I am an organizer and I’ve got a few ideas to help get you started.
Sharing Family Stories
Scrapbooks, photo albums, photo books and digital slide presentations are just collections; however, we want to share the family story. Take the time to identify the people, places, and dates and add that information to the project, regardless of the medium you choose.
Use multiple mediums for sharing your stories – add a handwritten or computer generated “story behind the picture” and frame both to create a gift. It’s the beautiful moments of everyday life that capture our hearts.
Don’t be afraid to involve the whole family. When my children were small, we gave them access to the video camera (old school, I know) so they could create their own retelling of fairytales. The youngest made a great troll and roared with dramatic flair.
Everyone thinks about having a parent or grandparent record a video of reading a book to a child, but what about the other way around? Let the child tell the story and then share that with grandparents and other older relatives.
I saved letters from my grandmother while I was in college. She and I exchanged letters for four years, and many of them were in code – you had to break the code to read the letter! We wrote the events of the day in poetry form, in shapes, and on unique papers . . . it was magical. It was just a window into everyday life while I was away, but it tells the story of my family at home in a way that pictures never could.
Ideas for Memorabilia
Depending on how quickly you accumulate stuff, I recommend either a monthly filing system in your home files, and/or a scrapbook page storage box. These can be scanned, photographed, or added to your project when you’re ready.