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While we feel this article pertains so much to us, we thought others may find it strikes an important note with them.  So -

"TREASURES IN MY OWN HOME," by Juliana Smith

As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, my family and I have been house hunting and I've begun the huge task of packing up all of our earthly possessions. Ack!!! Where did we get all this stuff?

As I go through our belongings, I am besieged with memories and nostalgia and it's struck me that I should be doing a lot more to preserve our "family history in the making." So in today's "Family History Compass," I'd like to share some of the thoughts I've had while preparing for "the big move."


I've always been a packrat and these tendencies are in direct conflict with the no-nonsense part of me that wants to make this move as efficient as possible. I am facing a constant dilemma with Mrs. No-Nonsense telling Mrs. Packrat, "When in doubt, throw it out." Of course, Mrs. Packrat responds with, "We can't throw this out! It was Maddy's homework assignment from Kindergarten!"

So my biggest challenge has been to figure out where to draw the line when it comes to what to save and what to pitch. The genealogist in me wants to save every note my daughter ever wrote to me, every drawing, every homework assignment, every piece of clothing, etc. But I have to be practical and come to terms with the fact that she has sixteen more years of school ahead and saving every assignment is just not possible. So with the exception of some dated periodic assignments that show her progress, much of the pre-school and kindergarten stuff is going to have to go. (Mrs. Packrat is sobbing uncontrollably at the news, but even she has to admit that the three boxes of papers is just a bit too much.)

I have saved a lot of her baby things and have sorted the items I  want to keep into a separate box. I've started a "Family Preservation To-do List" (on the computer so it won't get lost in the move), and added my first entry--a note to "sew labels on baby clothes and blankets." In determining the best method to store them, I did some  research, both in the Library and on other sites I found on the Internet. (I've added the links at the bottom of the column.) From my research, it's obvious that the boxes I currently have them in may not be good for the fabrics, so I've also added a note to also invest in some archival boxes for storage.


Other treasures I had to pack were those that I had in an antique china cabinet that a friend gave me as a wedding present. It's a wonderful old cabinet with a glass door, four shelves of space that are filled with gifts from family and friends, heirlooms from my grandparents and great-grandparents, and family souvenirs of special events and trips. As I went through packing, my daughter asked me about each item, and while I didn't have any trouble telling her where these special items came from, down the road it may not be so easy. So, the next thing on my list is to borrow Mom's digital camera and photograph each item. I plan to insert each photo into a document  containing a description and the origins of the piece, as well as any family story that goes with it. The documents can be saved on my computer, backed up on CD-ROM, and also printed out on paper. (Time to shop for another notebook!)

I also have some heirloom jewellery and small knickknacks that belonged to grandparents from both sides of our family in a curio box on the wall. Again, these needed to be labelled. I made a "map" of the box as I unpacked it, numbering the squares and included a description of each piece at the bottom with its corresponding number. Not only will this help me put everything back in its place when we move, but the map will serve as a record of each item and the source.


Throughout my house, I have framed prints of paintings that I like, embroidered pieces from my family and friends, plaques with special sayings, and in our room, a framed photo from our wedding day. These items also needed to be labelled as many of them were gifts and have special meaning and value to me. In some rooms, I even have greeting cards from family framed and hanging up.

The framed greeting cards already have their sources contained within, but the other items needed to be labelled. For these, I incorporated a Quick Tip that we ran a while ago regarding framing items. It suggested that, "a pocket be put on the back to insert any information pertaining to the article being framed."


It was relatively simple to add a pocket to the paper on the back of most wall hangings and insert the information inside and I didn't even have to put that one on my "to-do later" list!


Throughout this house in which we've raised our daughter for the past six years, I am confronted with memories that I want to preserve for her. While I have photographs and video, they don't always capture as much as I'd like. They're typically taken mainly on special occasions and just don't really capture our day-to-day life.

So at the top of my list is to jot down some notes in every spare moment about what life is and was like for us in this house. The memories of her pulling up her "desk" next to mine to "work" with me, a house full of neighbors and the neighborhood children, the sounds of the birds in the big pine tree in the front yard, and our special walks to and from Kindergarten where each street got it's own special name--these are all treasures from this home that I want to carry with us to the next chapter in our lives. Now is the time to preserve them.


'General Guidelines for Storing Materials,' by Barbara Sagraves (Excerpt from "A Preservation Guide: Saving the Past and the Present for the Future")

Preservation Links & Resources (From the Library)

My History is America's History: Saving Your Family Treasures

Care of Historic Costume and Textiles (from Kent State University Museum)

We encourage the circulation of the "Ancestry Daily News" via non- profit newsletters and lists providing that you credit the author,  include any copyright information (Copyright 1998-2002, Inc. and its subsidiaries.), and cite the "Ancestry Daily News" ( as the source, so that others can learn about our free newsletter as well.

For this article:
Juliana Smith is the editor of the "Ancestry Daily News" and author  of "The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book." She has written for "Ancestry" Magazine and "Genealogical Computing." Juliana can be reached by e-mail at:, but regrets that she is unable to assist with personal research.

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