Know what you have. Inventory is the foundation of all good preservation care. If you don’t know what you have, you won’t know the best way to proceed.
The downside is that inventory can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s been necessary for me to approach this work in stages, each step progressively more detailed, ultimately leading toward a written inventory of the collection.
My first step with my 20 boxes of family stuff was to invent an organization system to bring some form of order out of the chaos. I could have divided the collection by media: boxes for photos, boxes for paper, boxes for books, etc. But that wouldn’t have best served my purpose (which, first and foremost, was to be ready to launch the June and Art blog by a deadline of September 25).
I chose to do the first sort of items by family and time period. I organized items into the following categories:
· Items for possible use in the June and Art blog, covering their courtship, 1949-1951 (distributed on 1 set of metal shelves and a table)
· My dad’s side of the family – the Price family history (2 boxes)
· My mom’s side of the family – the
family history (3 boxes) Anderson
· June and Art’s early married life, loose material (2 boxes)
· June and Art’s early married life, photo albums including coverage of the childhood and youth of my sister and me (1 box for photo albums)
· June and Art’s retirement years (1 box)
· 50th anniversary memorabilia (1 box)
· My sister Jamie’s stuff (1 box)
· My stuff (1 box)
It was a start. Just sorting through the items, one piece at a time, took three weeks – and for those three weeks it was a full-time job on top of my regular full-time job. Exhausting… but rewarding.
Special thanks to preservation specialist Jill Rawnsley who is helping guide me through this process!
An Open Invitation: Please feel free to share in our Comments section about your experiences with preserving your family collections or to ask preservation questions about items in your care.
© 2010 Lee Price