Review: How to Archive Family Keepsakes

In How to Archive Family Keepsakes, Denise Levenick has created an amazing reference for anyone who has inherited a collection of family letters, documents and personal items. For family historians and genealogists, this is an essential guide for organizing and managing the family archive. She uses her own experience to demonstrate archival issues then offers easy-to understand solutions.

The book begins where many of us got started – what to do with grandma’s trunk full of photos, letters and papers. She, very correctly, defines this collection as an archive and by doing so defines it as a valuable resource that deserves proper attention. She then proceeds to describe how to evaluate, catalog, organize, preserve and manage that archive with common sense tasks and affordable tools. Her resource sections are well-documented. Best of all, she provides workflows and checklists that help you break down a massive project into manageable parts. I wish I had this book years ago when I inherited my grandmother’s archive. Denise’s section on evaluation and the initial organizational steps would have made my efforts so much easier.

blog-tour-badge250wThe chapter on organizing for the future makes several very good suggestions for planning what will happen to your archives after your death. Today’s digital world adds some interesting quirks to those plans.

There are chapters on preservation covering papers, photographs, jewelry, tableware and even military medals. Once again, there are both common sense recommendations for the care and storage of these items along with plenty of resources.

An entire section is devoted to digitizing photo and paper archives. In addition to details on the equipment and software necessary to build a digital archive, Denise provides step-by-step instructions along with useful tips, checklists and workflows. I found the discussion on naming conventions full of useful suggestions.

In the last section, research strategies are discussed which includes topics on research plans, types of sources, citation styles and how to cite items from your archive. Thanks to today’s technology, research is no longer done in a vacuum and she demonstrates where and how to make research connections online. Her organizational skills are impressive and she shares many of those tips with the rest of us.

I hate the idea of marking up my print copy of the book so I was delighted to find the PDF edition available at Scribd where I can easily search for specific topics and add highlights and notes whenever I need them.

How to Archive Family Keepsakes is a great reference and one you’ll want to include in your library of research essentials.

Book Notes

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