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| Home Family & Relationships The Organized Photographs You've Inherited Family Photographs: Now What?
PhotographsYou've Inherited Family Photographs: Now What?
Family photographs are family treasures. But when you inherit stacks of them, it can be a challenge to organize those - and your own. By sorting by family, date, event and lineage - and tossing pictures of strangers, the process will be on its way.
After my grandparents passed away, we had the awful task of sorting through the heaps of things they had collected over the years. Among the many boxes of "treasures" I discovered, were countless boxes of photographs. Old, yellowing photographs, neglected in the attic, deprived of a safe environment, yet so meaningful to my grandparents. I decided then and there that I would create an album to preserve my family's heritage. But, as I began to sort the photos, I realized that though there were many photos of my immediate family, there were double the amount of photographs where I didn't recognize a soul.
What started out as an endearing project was now becoming more daunting by the minute. I put everything back in the boxes and I walked away from the mess. The boxes remained safe in my closet for months, even years (I confess). Yet, every time I would go into my closet, I would feel the pang of guilt: I am contributing to the slow death those photos.
For anyone who has been in my shoes, receiving heritage photos can be a double-edged sword. While inheriting these treasures can stir many sentimental emotions, at the same time, you may feel like you are burdened by the task of doing something with them. It has taken me a long time to realize that whatever I do, no matter how small, will be an improvement over what has been done to these precious photographs over the years. Even if all I do is transfer them to a safe environment, one that is acid-free, lignin-free, PVC-free, their longevity will increase tremendously.
I will share with you a few tips that I discovered while beginning my sorting process:
"Don't Know 'Em,Toss Them." First of all, I got rid of any photographs where I couldn't recognize a person, place or thing of importance to me. I knew there was no one around who could help me identify these photos so I chose to release them. That alone, decreased my pile tremendously.
The next thing I did was to purge any photos that had visible and irreparable damage. Over the years, many of the photos had become so dark or brittle that they weren't worth keeping. It is a shame to see this but feel good in knowing that if you are reading this, you are taking the steps to prevent further damage to the photos that have survived. Some photos that may be brittle but still recognizable could be colored copied onto acid-free paper.
As I sorted the photos, their story began to unfold. Here was their legacy and my heritage. I knew I had to save it. As I separated the photographs into categories, I took some time to jot down notes and stories that I remembered my grandparents sharing with me. It feels great to have them all sorted and stored in a safe environment.
I have begun to scrapbook these photographs chronologically. I haven't completed the book yet but I know that the photos and memorabilia are now in a safe environment while I am undertaking this project. I am guilt-free and even if they never make it into a scrapbook, they will still survive the test of time.
About the Author Tracey DuBois and her business partner, Christine Sutton have helped countless people organize, protect, and enjoy their precious photographs. As authors of "Save Your Photos and Your Sanity" and producers of "Treasure Your Memories" , they take a unique and FUN approach to organizing photographs. They offer a FREE Photo Organizing Idea Kit at www.organizedphotos.com