October 30, 2014

6 Tips: How to Organize Your Family History

Organize your family historyWe genealogists often accumulate a lot of family “stuff:”  original documents, old photographs and heirlooms. Though it’s wonderful to own them, it can be a serious challenge to keep them organized and documented. That’s why I’m really excited about Family Tree Magazine’s new line of Family Archivist kits.

There are three great kits, developed especially for genealogists:

  • a Document Preservation Kit
  • a Photo Preservation kit
  • a unique Heirloom Inventory Kit.

What’s especially cool about these kits is their 21st-century spin: they help us organize and preserve digital copies as well as the originals!

Click here to get 10% off your entire order of these kits when you order by June 30, 2013.  Be sure to use coupon code FAMILY10F Genealogy Gems is an affiliate of Shop Family Tree and that means your purchase also helps support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. Thanks you!

Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton helped Family Tree Magazine develop these kits. Here are her six overall tips for organizing family items

Sunny_MortonSunny’s 6 Tips for Organizing Your Genealogical Items

1. Take stock of what you’ve got. Gather together all the original documents or photos, or take pictures of all your heirlooms, then review the entire collection at the same time.

2. Get rid of duplicates and stuff that doesn’t matter so much. You probably don’t really need all 10 of grandma’s quilts or those hundreds of scenic photographs from old family vacations. Rethink the 12-piece setting of china you’ll never use and grandpa’s tidy but prolific collection of nuts and bolts.

3. Carefully document and organize originals. Each kit includes supplies and instructions to help you safely identify each item. This is probably the most important step. We love our pictures, old letters and heirlooms because of the family connection. If that connection is lost, so is the value of the object.

4. Scan flat items and take digital pictures of dimensional ones. Keep these as “backups” in case the original is ever harmed. (The document and photo kits even come with Archival Gold CDs, which aren’t easy for genealogists to come by but perfect for long-term digital storage.) Use copies for reference and display, so you don’t expose your originals to everyday wear.

5. Store originals safely. The Heirloom Inventory kit includes suggestions for storing and displaying original objects. The document and photo kits include top-quality archival supplies and step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to store your stuff in them.

FA kits promo

6. Share what you’ve got. Frame copies of your old photos and put them on the wall or a shelf. Keep copies of old documents handy to show relatives. Display your heirlooms. Use them all as conversation pieces whenever you get a chance. Tell stories about the people. Share memories that help other relatives understand why these items matter to you. That will help ensure that these items will live on in the family lore.

Click here to get 10% off these kits when you order by June 30, 2013.  Use the coupon code FAMILY10F to get 10% off your entire order! Genealogy Gems is an affiliate of Shop Family Tree and that means your purchase also helps support the free Genealogy Gems Podcast.

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About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com. She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.