If you are the keeper of family history items that you believe could be of interest to scholars, you may wish to donate them to an institution where they will be archived and available for others to use.
As you reflect on your life, what moments or thoughts would you like to save? What about some of your family members? Wouldn’t you like to record their opinions on their lives?
Open-ending questions about people’s life experiences yield surprising results. Use these questions to record your thoughts, or start a conversation with a relative. When possible, record the interview on audio or video.
Family documents are among the most valuable heirlooms in any archives. These papers can provide new information or verify family legends about births, deaths, and marriages. Historians love documents for the details they reveal about relationships and everyday life. In this session, we'll focus exclusively on the preservation needs of your paper-based documents.
Once you know some archival basics, you can adapt professional methods to your family's archives. As a result, you can confidently sort through your family treasures and discover the stories they hold. You can more comfortably make decisions about items worth preserving, and you can wisely invest the resources you have available for the project. You will be in charge of your history instead of the other way around.
When you are creating your family archives, you will most likely have to rehouse your family treasures in suitable storage containers, such as folders, enclosures, and boxes. These items are often described as “archival” or “archival quality” by their manufacturers, but these terms convey no specifics about their preservation use.
It may seem as though you wouldn’t have to worry about copyright issues when you are creating family history projects. If you have original diaries, photos, and letters in your possession, you might also think that you own the rights to them, especially if they are old. However, even though you may own the physical materials, the author of the documents retains their legal copyright, sometimes for much longer than you would assume.