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Lynda Kachurek
University of Richmond
Osher Institute Course
July 2014
PROTECTING YOUR
FAMILY’S HISTORY
Welcome
• Introductions
• Course Agenda & Housekeeping
• Protecting Your Family’s History
• Resources, ideas, and tips
• Q...
What are family papers?
Family papers can include a wide variety of materials:
• Manuscripts
• Clippings
• Correspondence
...
Our Goal:
From This …. To This . . .
Unprocessed Collection Processed Collection
Or, in some cases, from this . . .
Examples of family papers
• official documents: passports, birth, marriage and death certificates
• correspondence: letter...
Where to start?
•Find place and time to
work
•Have first round of
materials (folders,
boxes, pencils, etc.)
•Organize
•Pro...
Priority #1: The Environment
Environmental threats
to your family papers
•Temperature and humidity
•Sunlight
•Bugs
•Heat and humidity = Mold
•Heat that comes
in many forms
More environmental threats
•Dirt
•Food and drink
•The atmosphere
Best Practices: Environment
• Ideal temperature: 60-72 degrees
• Ideal humidity: 40-60%
• Consistency is important
• Prote...
Priority #2: Organize
• From this 
• To this
Most Important Thing?
Don’t do anything that can’t be undone!
• Lamination
• Ink
• Unintentional Damage
Things to Do: Flatten
• Remove letters and documents from envelopes and flatten.
Things to Do:
Remove Harmful Items
Common items to avoid
•Cellophane tape
•Paper clips
•Rubber bands
•Ink pens / markers
•...
Things to Do: Clean
• Lightly remove surface dirt with fine brush, document cleaning
pads, polymer erasers, vulcanized rub...
Things to Do: Identify
Using soft pencil, provide any identifying information that you can:
• Names
• Dates
• Places
• Eve...
Things to Do: Select
• Survey materials as whole, then work down through individual
items
• Typical materials of interest ...
Things to Do: Storage
Ideal/Best practice:
• Acid free folders, labeled
• Acid free boxes, labeled
• Photo sleeves
• Prote...
Proper Storage Tips
• Store in dark, cool and dry area
• Isolate acidic items (old newspapers)
• Use appropriate archival ...
Things to Do: Preservation Tips
Scrapbooks
• Keep their original order if possible
• Identify materials removed from scrap...
Photo Tips
• Do not take apart any ‘cased photographs’ (daguerreotypes,
ambrotypes, and tintypes).
• Do not flatten tin-ty...
Audio recordings
• Store all LPs, discs and tapes (cassette and open-reel) upright,
on edge. Do not lay any recording flat...
Digital Objects
• CD-ROMS have shown serious degradation in less than 10 years
• DVD’s are believed to have shorter life-s...
Things to Do:
Make an inventory
• Helps keep track and locate items
• Helps identify gaps in family materials
• Assists in...
General tips
• Store objects of the same size together.
• Do not overcrowd boxes and files.
• Keep boxes off the floor.
• ...
Winding up:
Preserving Your Family Treasures
• Collections Care
• Organization
• Storage
• Temperature and humidity concer...
Next Steps
• Enjoy your hard work
• Get interested family members involved
• Use materials to generate and discover more
•...
Possibilities
• Scrapbook / album
• Time capsule
• Storybook
• Oral histories
• Personal history / memoir
• Reunions / mem...
Tips to Get Started - Projects
• Plan
• What is the purpose?
• Who is your intended audience?
• What story do you want to ...
Just a Few Examples
• Minnesota: Everyone has a Story!
• Association of Personal Historians: Tell Your Story – Connect
Gen...
Protecting your family's history
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Protecting your family's history

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Course description: Do you have boxes of photographs or family papers stored away in a closet or attic? This session provides a basic introduction to organizing and preserving family history materials including books, papers, and photographs.

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Protecting your family's history

  1. 1. Lynda Kachurek University of Richmond Osher Institute Course July 2014 PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY’S HISTORY
  2. 2. Welcome • Introductions • Course Agenda & Housekeeping • Protecting Your Family’s History • Resources, ideas, and tips • Questions • Looking Ahead: For Next Week
  3. 3. What are family papers? Family papers can include a wide variety of materials: • Manuscripts • Clippings • Correspondence • Photographs • Audio-visual materials • Scrapbooks • Diaries • 3-dimensional artifacts • Digital items
  4. 4. Our Goal: From This …. To This . . . Unprocessed Collection Processed Collection
  5. 5. Or, in some cases, from this . . .
  6. 6. Examples of family papers • official documents: passports, birth, marriage and death certificates • correspondence: letters, postcards, email, telegrams • diaries • scrapbooks • photographs, movie film, video, audio recordings • books: cookbooks, family histories, religious and spiritual texts • artifacts: art objects, clothing, military material, occupational and household items, daily-living material, and furniture • digital materials: laptops, floppies, cell phones
  7. 7. Where to start? •Find place and time to work •Have first round of materials (folders, boxes, pencils, etc.) •Organize •Protect •Enjoy • Start small • Don’t get overwhelmed • Start with basics • Move into specifics Saving Your Treasures
  8. 8. Priority #1: The Environment
  9. 9. Environmental threats to your family papers •Temperature and humidity •Sunlight •Bugs
  10. 10. •Heat and humidity = Mold
  11. 11. •Heat that comes in many forms
  12. 12. More environmental threats •Dirt •Food and drink •The atmosphere
  13. 13. Best Practices: Environment • Ideal temperature: 60-72 degrees • Ideal humidity: 40-60% • Consistency is important • Protect materials from dust, light, pests, and mold • Avoid attics and basements (barns, tool sheds, etc.) • Avoid damp areas • Use your nose • Don’t let “for now” become “forever”!
  14. 14. Priority #2: Organize • From this  • To this
  15. 15. Most Important Thing? Don’t do anything that can’t be undone! • Lamination • Ink • Unintentional Damage
  16. 16. Things to Do: Flatten • Remove letters and documents from envelopes and flatten.
  17. 17. Things to Do: Remove Harmful Items Common items to avoid •Cellophane tape •Paper clips •Rubber bands •Ink pens / markers •Lamination
  18. 18. Things to Do: Clean • Lightly remove surface dirt with fine brush, document cleaning pads, polymer erasers, vulcanized rubber sponge
  19. 19. Things to Do: Identify Using soft pencil, provide any identifying information that you can: • Names • Dates • Places • Events • Relationships Not just photos!
  20. 20. Things to Do: Select • Survey materials as whole, then work down through individual items • Typical materials of interest include: • Letters, memoirs, reminiscences, oral histories, stories • Diaries, scrapbooks, photo albums • Professional information, business records, minutes/reports • Financial records (some) • Legal documents, speeches, lectures • Genealogical information • Photographs • Films, videos, audio tapes Deciding What to Keep
  21. 21. Things to Do: Storage Ideal/Best practice: • Acid free folders, labeled • Acid free boxes, labeled • Photo sleeves • Protective covers Reality: • Do the best you can with what you have!
  22. 22. Proper Storage Tips • Store in dark, cool and dry area • Isolate acidic items (old newspapers) • Use appropriate archival containers • Avoid sunlight and UV light • Watch for bugs and mold • Use Mylar or other chemically inert plastics
  23. 23. Things to Do: Preservation Tips Scrapbooks • Keep their original order if possible • Identify materials removed from scrapbooks with date, source, names, and places. Use only pencil. • Remove any materials in magnetic / sticky photo albums, but do no harm. • Consider taking photos of the scrapbook as it is, for back-up.
  24. 24. Photo Tips • Do not take apart any ‘cased photographs’ (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes). • Do not flatten tin-types or attempt to clean with solvents. • Avoid touching images with fingers. Hold the edges or use white gloves. • House photo prints in clear polypropylene or polyethylene sleeves (Mylar) and in folders and boxes for support. PAT-tested supplies. • Avoid wood-pulp paper, glassine, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for storage! • Store negatives separately from photographs. • Label using soft pencil or in sleeve with label • Use digital copies for display, or UV filtering covers on framed photos, keep away from direct sunlight
  25. 25. Audio recordings • Store all LPs, discs and tapes (cassette and open-reel) upright, on edge. Do not lay any recording flat. • Keep all tapes away from potential sources of demagnetization, such as loudspeakers, televisions, and heat sources. • Store tapes without rewinding.
  26. 26. Digital Objects • CD-ROMS have shown serious degradation in less than 10 years • DVD’s are believed to have shorter life-spans than CD-ROMS • External hard-drives an option, but not foolproof • Can print things that are for permanent retention or storage. • Make and carry out a plan to migrate (or at least check and refresh) your data to new CD-ROMS or other digital storage on a regular basis. • Create back-ups, in case one set fails. Cloud storage an option!
  27. 27. Things to Do: Make an inventory • Helps keep track and locate items • Helps identify gaps in family materials • Assists in “weeding” – what to keep, duplicates, etc. • What to document? • What items are in which folders • What are the dates of the documents • Which family members are represented • How did you acquire the documents
  28. 28. General tips • Store objects of the same size together. • Do not overcrowd boxes and files. • Keep boxes off the floor. • Avoid using paperclips, glue, tape and rubber bands. • Copy crumbly newspaper clippings to acid free paper. • Have a disaster recovery plan. • Know where items are located.
  29. 29. Winding up: Preserving Your Family Treasures • Collections Care • Organization • Storage • Temperature and humidity concerns • Reduce risk of damage • Your Collections – Examples • Bring in item to work with next class! • Things we didn’t talk about: • furniture, textiles, china, glassware, etc. • Now What?
  30. 30. Next Steps • Enjoy your hard work • Get interested family members involved • Use materials to generate and discover more • Family gatherings • Create oral histories • Craft a digital story • Share your materials • Local historical society • Library • Archive • Donate materials!
  31. 31. Possibilities • Scrapbook / album • Time capsule • Storybook • Oral histories • Personal history / memoir • Reunions / memory tables / identification / gather new stories • Digital storytelling / picture sharing • Family history blog • Donations
  32. 32. Tips to Get Started - Projects • Plan • What is the purpose? • Who is your intended audience? • What story do you want to tell? • Who can tell the story? • Create a timeline • Identify both personal and world events as well as social and cultural changes • Use photographs, scrapbooks or albums to trigger stories and memories • Library resources • Websites to help
  33. 33. Just a Few Examples • Minnesota: Everyone has a Story! • Association of Personal Historians: Tell Your Story – Connect Generations! • Finding Your Roots – Share your Story • UR Digital Storytelling • CTLT has equipment, studios, and tech help! • Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Love • Cowbird (www.cowbird.com) • Veteran’s History Project

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