Open the old shoeboxes and unlatch the trunks in the attic. And place the contents carefully onto a table. You will be surprised at what amazing treasures you have in your possession. Be sure to treat every document as a treasure, too. It may only have value to you or your immediate family, but these pieces add clarity and richness to your past. They also help to attach you and your family history to a specific time in the past. And they often show you the faces of people you never knew.
- Gather together all your personal family information – photographs, postcards, letters, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.
- An important source for historical information is a family Bible passed down through generations. Old Bibles often contain important information about births, marriages and deaths – not to mention the occasional pressed flower or newspaper clippings tucked between the pages.
- To help preserve your documents, avoid using ballpoint pen to mark or identify them. Instead, use pencil (on the back, if possible) to identify the document or the people in the photograph. Better yet, start a document or database that identifies each piece. (You may wish to identify each artifact with a unique code that can be found on your chart or in your database.)
- Carefully remove any staples or metal paper clips from documents – as metal ages, it will obviously rust and discolour/harm your document. Instead, use plastic paper clips or, better yet, archival safe, acid-free plastic document holders (available at most large stationery stores or specialty archives shops).
- Keep your family treasures in a safe, dry place and they will become a remarkable inheritance for future generations.