What to do when you inherit the family library of photos, videos, and documents? (Part 1)

Becoming the family historian sometimes comes with a huge burden.  Inevitably, someone in the family will say, “Hey, you’re working on genealogy; I thought you might be interested in this….”  It can be an old photograph, letter or document.  Usually, anyone who is researching their family would jump at the opportunity to have these items.  Many can be goldmines of information about the family or even have a sentimental or emotional connection.

However, sometimes this can quickly become overwhelming, especially when an older relative dies and their estate needs to be finalized.  All of a sudden you not only have the hat of a genealogist but now are a curator, librarian, archivist, and even preservationist.  What is the alternative?  Seeing these treasurers being tossed to the curb on garbage day?

The most important part of receiving these “gifts” from the family is to ensure they are physically safe.  Sometimes this is the biggest issue when dealing with tight timeframes.  For example, when trying to sell a family members house who died.  Physically protecting these gifts will prevent any damage until you can process them or find them a more permanent home.

Physically protecting items such as photos and documents also requires proper environmental conditions including temperature and humidity.  Storing items like this in a hot attic or cold damp basement is common, but probably one of the worst places.  Climate controlled storage centers may be a better option for short-term solutions.

Check out GenealogyChris’s blog next week for tips on how to manage these items once you find a safe space for them.