In the basement of my house sits an old leather suitcase. It was once creamy white, but time and travel have turned the outside covering into grubby beige. The edges are battered, the hinges are rusted, the clasp no longer works and the key that once secured it is long lost. As a suitcase it is useless, but as a family heirloom it is priceless. It was the case that accompanied my parents on their honeymoon to Mexico City in 1942. And anyway, the outside is not important; it’s what inside that matters. Inside the suitcase are all the family records, photographs, documents, letters and memorabilia from fifty-eight years of marriage, three children, two wars, numerous vacations and innumerable celebrations with friends and family.
You may not have a suitcase in the basement. Your family records may be kept in a trunk in the attic, or stuffed into drawers of a childhood desk, or crammed into boxes on the back shelves of a closet. They are in your house somewhere, and you know it. What you don’t know is what to do with them.
If you’re like most people, you’ve taken a lot of family photographs over the years. You might also have old family photographs of various other ancestors which you’ve inherited. And you probably have various miscellaneous documents like birth, marriage and death certificates. Maybe a relative sent you old letters, certificates, and family photographs, and you are not sure what to do. Maybe you’re wondering how to save your child’s pictures and other mementos.
Don’t despair! We’ve invited someone to the library who can help you
Rhonda Chadwick, MS/MA, is an archivist who has worked at a number of museums, libraries and archives throughout New England. She visits the library on Sunday, February 12, at 2:00 to teach you how to organize and store family memorabilia for long-term preservation. You’ll learn the basics of archival principles, digitization and most importantly, how to create a family story with pictures, documents and artifacts. You’ll walk away knowing where to begin, the best location within the home to store documents – I’m certain it’s not in old luggage in the basement – and a pocket full of tips on organizing the materials.
Your attic and basement might harbor untold treasures that document individual and family history. Join us on Sunday, February 12, to learn how to preserve your unique story. Please register for this special event online in Events at raynhampubliclibrary.org or by calling the library at 508.823.1344.