One Author's Life: A Personal Blog

Family Archives: Getting Started, Part III

March 1, 2013

Sometimes family memorabilia gets put on a shelf and abandoned because it's too much for one person to tackle. Too often, one person in an extended family is appointed as the unofficial family historian, with generations of family archives ending up in that person's house. This is not good for a number of reasons, including the fact that a fire or flood at a single location means everything is lost. Organizing the family archives should not be put on one person's shoulders. Sharing the load is essential. To jump-start the process, try bringing a box - just one - to your next family gathering. Announce early in the day that you've brought it with you and that you would like to go through it with everyone. Make it fun, not a chore. Looking through the box as a group tends to ignite old memories and stories. Little mysteries may be solved instantly. This is, also, a lovely way to remember an ancestor who has passed. If it goes well, bring a different box to every family gathering. It could even become a new holiday tradition. Be sure to include the youngest generation, however. If you respect history, so will they.


  1. March 25, 2013 11:13 AM EDT
    Really enjoyed "Miss Dreamsville" and discussing it at Thursday's Coconut River Book Club in Naples, FL. My husband is the youngest but only male of 5 siblings and has now become the family "patriarch" which makes me, so it seems, the family historian. I was able to ship the military stuff off to a nephew in the service to help with that, but have everything else here! Luckily, my parents who are recently decease, didn't save a lot of stuff! I' look forward to meeting you at the "Bagels and Book Club" breakfast next month.
    - Lisa Morton
  2. March 25, 2013 1:43 PM EDT
    My dad is an only child, which means that all kinds of papers and artifacts made their way to him since there was no where else for them to go! This is both good and bad. (My mom would say it's bad. -Smile-)
    - Amy Hill Hearth