If you’re among those lucky few who has family heirlooms to preserve and cherish, you would know that heirlooms are quite difficult to maintain safety. How do you save those family papers and photos, as well as use them for genealogy?
#1 Get Context for the Materials
Categorizing the items should be the first course of action. Family archives can be so varied from wedding dresses, photographs diaries, record collection and more. If you don’t want to hire a professional to make a log of your possessions, you can DIY it on the MyLife app and share it with your family members.
You can make a year-wise category and note down the items that were bought that year or had a significance then (such as a wedding ring). You can extend it further by writing the story of each item in the category which your heirs will find useful in the future.
Each category has different ways to preserve them for example, jewellery needs to be stored in cloth bags and kept in a jewellery box. While clothing will need to be dry-cleaned and then stored in an acid-free box or tieback bags.
#2 Move Your Heirlooms Out of the Garage
The problem with storing heirlooms on shelves or cardboard boxes is safety. A lot of factors like water, heat, wind or insects can get to it and ruin them forever. Acid-free boxes and acid-free paper are the best choices to store your stuff in and can be found easily online or art supply stores. Another option can be wrapping up the heirlooms in a pure-cotton pillowcase.
Do not make irreversible changes to them while prepping for storage. For example, do not try to stick stuff together with scotch tape as they can be very difficult to remove later. Use separator sheets or butter paper above and beneath each photograph or better yet, use a photo album to store them.
#3 Photos and Albums
As we mentioned before, use sheet protectors on physical photographs to keep it safe for a long time. Do not use newspapers to wrap the photographs in as they can transfer ink and acid onto the photos. Think about getting all photos digitized as a backup so that the photos remain safe in your drive even if something happens to the physical photographs.
#4 Fix Before You Store
If you find that some items are not in the most pristine condition, you should fix it before it is put into storage. Heirlooms are likely to be fragile and such if they are not repaired, they may completely disintegrate or breakdown. You can seek the help of a conservator if you’re unsure of how to proceed.
#5 Location, location, location
Now that everything is boxed and filed, you need to keep it in its final resting place far away from mold, water, rodents and heat. This will automatically reject basements and attics. Instead, aim for storage places with a stable environment, filtered air, and temperature no greater than 72° Fahrenheit. If you can’t find an appropriate location in your home, consider storing smaller heirlooms in a safe deposit box at your bank or choose an indoor unit.
Memories matter a great deal. Whether they are stories of struggle, loss or triumph and love, preserving pieces of your history, in turn, preserves your family stories for ages to come. Try out MyLife and see how easy it is to store memories for your loved ones to cherish for a lifetime.