Have you sorted all of your family history papers, from those boxes of trash, as instructed in my previous post: Family History: How to Sort Through and Rescue all those Heirlooms..? If so you are ready for the next step.
Organizing Your Family History: Part 2
2. Place a few file folders in a file box and sit the file box next to, or an a chair near the paper pile for the person you will be working with. As you go through that individual pile place the items in a file folder in the box for that individual. Let’s say you are working on a pile of stuff from your Dad. If you come across baby pictures, announcements, anything pertaining to babyhood, put it in the front folder. I found it easiest to keep the folders sequential, birth in front and aging to current, or until death at the back.
- As you go through the pile start new folders as needed. Maybe you could use one for elementary years, high school, college, marriage, career, and funeral. The folders you need are determined by the items you find. Don’t prelabel the folders for each box because you may not have the items to go in them. You won’t have near as much information on your grandparents as you do on your own children. In fact you may be able to get all the memorabilia from all 4 of your great grandparents into one file box. Your children may require a folder for each elementary school grade rather than just one folder for the elementary years. It just depends on what you find as you go through the items.
- Label the folders as you fill them . If there isn’t much on one person you may end up with just one folder with their name on it and that is all.
- Place the non-paper memorabilia in the same box near the folder for the age it pertains to. If it can be placed in the folder that’s great. If not, close to the folder will do. You may need a separate box for each individual with these items. My children have a box of baby things. (Outfit worn home from the hospital, christening dress, teething ring, hospital baby cap, and such) I plan to make shadow boxes or other keepsakes with these items.
- Years ago I started using accordion files to organize my children’s memorabilia. It generally worked well using one division for each school year. Accordion files are less expensive than regular file boxes. The ones I used are not acid free, however my oldest son is 29 years old (Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that his things are still in this accordion file!) and his memorabilia is still just fine. The only deterioration I notice is that the blue mimeograph ink used in the old ditto school papers is fading. They will all need to be scanned and printed with the better quality inks that we use today.
The object here is to get everything organized into boxes with the right name and the items in chronological order as much as possible. When you get this done you will at least know what you have.