Friday, August 31, 2007

Tales of the Family Archivist

The folks who manufacture archival supplies know they have you. We've all heard the horrors of using the wrong materials to store your family papers. We've all seen what happens when photos are placed in non-acid free albums. So the responsible family archivist diligently goes somewhere to purchase archival storage boxes.

That's where I headed this morning. To purchase a stack of archival quality storage boxes. The little ones (book sized) were priced at $14.99 each. I needed a dozen or so. I said "phooey" and wandered over to the aisle where they carry materials to house collections of sports cards and other sports collectibles. There I bought two packages of 25 archival envelopes in the 8x10-inch size, one package of 25 in the 5x7-inch size and one package of 25 in the 4x6-inch size. All for about the price of one of the boxes. It's not the best choice, but it will have to do. There's a limit to the financial sacrifices I will make in the name of family history. (Sure there is. I would hate to think what the total amount I've spent in the name of genealogy has grown to. But $14.99 for a 11 x 9 inch box is too much for even me to swallow.)

Being thrifty in this manner allowed me the flexibility to justify purchasing a large art portfolio with acid free sleeves that will allow me to store all of the portrait sized photos I inherited in last week's raid at my cousin's house. I had no idea how I was going to preserve them and I think this will be just the thing. My dilemma regarding the box of jumbled family photos was solved with the purchase of two acid free photo albums that will let me keep them grouped together as I got them, plus make them viewable by family members in some kind of coherent order and have them stay that way.

I've learned a few things over the years. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have disassembled my mother's photo albums, removing the photos to put with my family notebooks. True, the albums were falling apart, but I've learned it's more important to keep things in their original home to maintain the true historical record. So the three photo albums I just acquired will remain intact and scans will go into my notebooks rather than original photos.

I'm still discovering what wealth I've acquired. My grandmother gave me the funeral registers for both her mother and my grandfather. I now have the funeral register for my grandfather's mother. These are invaluable. In studying names of those who attended the funerals, I've uncovered many a married name for girl cousins.

You know, I always wanted to be a librarian. An archivist would have been a wonderful alternate career. Even though I may have missed my professional calling, I'm getting a second chance with the opportunity to maintain the family history.


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