It would be fascinating to be an archivist. Short of that, I get to work with one on a workshop we’ve developed together over the past year.
Because of my collaboration with Melissa Mannon at ArchivesInfo, I have a new set of questions as well as a new perspective – particularly related to items of family history.
I typically ask people to consider sentimental and financial value of items they’re not sure whether to keep (among many other questions; I’m simplifying.).
When we simplify our things, it behooves us to separate emotions from the objects. It’s also useful to take emotion out of the decision making process when possible. Otherwise, we tend to keep more than we wanted to.
Since working with Melissa, I’ve broadened my perspective to include historic value, a fact versus an emotion. People often say that their things don’t have much historic value. “We don’t have anyone famous in our family. So … what historic value are you talking about?”
In 150 years, how will people know about us, how we live, what was important, our culture, mores? How do we know about those who came before us? We document our culture today by what we preserve for the future.
In your local newspaper, you’ve probably seen requests for identifying people in “old” photographs. They’re not famous people. The photos aren’t that old sometimes (1940′s, 1950′s high school photographs appear in my paper). That’s us.
How do you know what’s valuable to the family, to the communities to which your family belonged, to documenting the culture we live in?
So as you simplify your life, think about these new questions.
- Would you like to know that you’ve shared beyond your own family and contributed as a cultural heritage partner?
- How important is it to you to be the family’s collector or historian? How do you feel about this role?
- Has someone in your family asked to have these items?
- Are there other materials with the same information? (Copies in better condition? Information in a different format?)
- Do they reflect an important activity of the times?
- Do you know the accurate story associated with these items? Or, could you find out more information from a family member?
- Were they created by someone with a special connection to an event?
I’m very excited about our workshop; we’ve had great participation to date. And, it merges my interest in exploring our past, passing on legacies and family history, with my specialty in organizing for your next chapter- moving on by simplifying. Melissa’s expert knowledge of what, why and how to record and preserve our history mixes beautifully.
Oh, and plus I get to hear Melissa’s expertise each time we prep and give the program.
If this is your interest, we have a facebook page called Life in Context and are building a “family collectors” community there.