My mom, Joyce Taylor is 88 years old. About a year and a half ago she moved out of her home of 20+ years into an assisted living home. Many of you may be contemplating a similar move or helping a parent or grandparent make this decision.
Any major move, especially if you're downsizing, brings up the question: what do you do with all your stuff? Does it go with you, or go someplace else? (Or does it just get trashed?) This question gets even more thorny when it concerns precious family heirlooms: boxes of photos, documents, scrapbooks, yearbooks, slides, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, letters, and on and on.
My mother is by no means a hoarder. For years before moving, she had organized much of her family history assets into binders. Years ago, I had digitized my father's considerable collection of slides. But there were still boxes of other items that had not been addressed.
My sister and brother helped me make a quick sort of the boxed items. We spent some time culling, and then I organized the rest, digitized it, and created a digital archive of the important material. Now each of my siblings can have a copy, and nobody is left with a pile of boxes that will gather dust and eventually get tossed when no one is left to identify it.
We were able to then use some of that information to create a short book about my parents' experiences in World War II. (You can see more photos of the book here.)
We have a lot of experience in organizing and digitizing family history assets, for our own family and for clients, and we've found ways to take some of the sting out of what is always a time-consuming process. But for many, the task of tackling all that family stuff becomes overwhelming.
Here are a few things that might help:
2. I've put together a little booklet called "How to Save Your Stuff: Curating Your Family History Assets" that helps break down an insurmountable task into smaller, more manageable steps. You can download it for free or order the paper booklet for the cost of printing and postage.
3. If you are really stuck, consider getting professional help. For advice and rates on getting professional curating/digitizing assistance, contact us.
But however you choose to organize and preserve those important boxes of family memories, just do it. Because the thought of your family's history ending up in a landfill is just too sad to contemplate.