July 12, 2012

Passing on Your Family Genealogy Treasures to a Descendant

Readers might recall that in 2009 I wrote several bog posts about Starting a Genealogy and Family Hope Chest

Since starting an antique box with my family odds 'n ends of genealogy treasures, I've run out of room.  In fact I've filled three similar size boxes with my treasures.

What do I keep in my treasure box? Original family documents (land records, deeds, marriage certificates, birth and baptismal records, death certificates etc), family bibles and journals, WW1 paybook and records for my grandmother's brother,  school report cards, wedding invitations, letters, postcards and more. I only keep original items that belonged to someone in my family, not photocopies of records I've found while researching.

But because I was filling boxes so rapidly, I decided to transfer all my documents and records, family treasures and journals (my own plus my mother's) to one large antique blanket box.

You can see the blanket box I'm going to use on the left in this photo. It already had a few items in it so I'm going to have some fun going through my smaller boxes and re-organizing the items to go in the blanket box.

It's always fun to take that trip down memory lane each time I reorganize the treasures. I spent a few hours last time reading through my grandmother's handwritten recipes which I've kept. Hopefully you are keeping your own genealogy treasure box to be passed on to a descendant.



16 comments:

Debi Austen said...

What a great idea and one I never thought of. My collection has grown to an unbelievable size recently and I've been thinking about how best to store things. I have a hope chest that would be just perfect for this. Thanks!

JL said...

I wonder where the old family antique blanket box is. I remember one very similar to the one in your photo. It was a cedar chest that held blankets. A question for my mother.

Candace said...

My genealogy treasure box is a seven foot tall secretary, filled with all the family items I've inherited. I've made a three-ring binder with a page for each item, with a picture, listing who first owned it, how it descended to me, and where it is now if it's not in the secretary. It also includes any stories that are connected with the piece. One of my nieces will have to deal with it someday, but I've tried to make it easier.

Jacqi Stevens said...

Lorine, the title of your post today really resonated with me, so I had to come check out what you were saying about this. It is so important to be able to pass along our treasures to the next generation. I think the only reason we have the photos, letters, and other documents we do have is because someone considered it important enough to pass along. Why break the chain now?

I have fond memories of going through the treasures in my grandmother's trunk. It has since given me such pleasure, when my daughter was younger, to see the joy she, too, experienced from going through this same trunk--her great-grandmother's trunk!

Jim Gill said...

As much as I love wood and as much as I love woodworking, I would be hesitant to store paper, photos, etc. in a wood box. As I understand it from the archivists at the Kentucky Historical Society where I volunteer, wood "outgasses" and that would not be healthy for your treasures. Acid-free storage boxes may not be a pretty but would be healthier for your treasures.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Excellent point Jim. I believe that my treasures are much more apt to be kept by descendants if they are in a beautiful box. So I will get some acid free storage boxes to put the papers in and then store those boxes inside my blanket box.

It's human nature to treat items with more reverence if they are inside something that looks important or pretty. But your point about acid-free is a very good one. So I'll compromise :-)

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Candace - love the idea of your tall secretary for your nieces!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Deb - nice to know you will be starting to store your treasures to pass on

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Jacqi I totally agree with you! My parents were not sentimental and nothing was saved but my dad had a small drawer where he kept mementos. As I kid I spent many hours going through it

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

JL mine is actually an antique tool box and it has 2 small drawers which didn't show in the photo I took.

We also have a blanket box that hubs great grandpa made and another that his grandfather's brother made!

So great for storing blankets or treasures :-)

Anna said...

I have artifacts from one side of the family in a leather valise that once belonged to my great-grandparents and the other side of the family in an antique trunk. Like Lorine, I thought the descendants would be more likely to keep it if the container seemed special.

I didn't think about the outgsssing of either the leather or the wood. Good things to consider. I also forgot that they might think "let's get rid of all these old papers so we can sell the antique valise."

It has already turned out to be a bad idea because one day the artifacts got too heavy and the old leather handle of the antique valise tore off the metal D-ring. But for now, I still have the stuff in there. I just carry it gingerly. But I do need to do a better job of catalogueing the artifacts.

Anna said...

I have artifacts from one side of the family in a leather valise that once belonged to my great-grandparents and the other side of the family in an antique trunk. Like Lorine, I thought the descendants would be more likely to keep it if the container seemed special.

I didn't think about the outgsssing of either the leather or the wood. Good things to consider. I also forgot that they might think "let's get rid of all these old papers so we can sell the antique valise."

It has already turned out to be a bad idea because one day the artifacts got too heavy and the old leather handle of the antique valise tore off the metal D-ring. But for now, I still have the stuff in there. I just carry it gingerly. But I do need to do a better job of catalogueing the artifacts.

Rochester Musings said...

It is great to have all of those things stored in one place, but do you have copies or emergency plans for fire, flood, tornadoes and other disasters that have taken many collections. Always best to plan for the worst.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Excellent reminder, Rochester Musings. I have copies of some of my "goodies" but have never copied the journals.

Thanks for reminding me! I feel another blog post coming on :-)

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Who wouldn't love inheriting or discovering something like this. I need to gather my stuff into one place like this. Thanks for the inspiration. Now I wish I hadn't let my parents cedar chest go. Still don't know where I'd have put it, though. Maybe my great grandmother's trunk that came over the oregon trail could be worked into a suitable receptaple for these treasures. It could be put to better use than it presently is holding bags and back packs.

Ann Ruhman said...

I had generations of treasures funel down to me when my mother passed a few years ago. I couldn't believe how much there was, randomly strewn about the house. When I got it all consolidated, there was far more there than I could hope to enjoy. Yes, I could have boxed it all up and put it in a closet, but what good would that do? So I contacted the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. This library collects social history relating to Michigan - diaries, photos, letters... The curator came out and took away 5 boxes of papers. For me, this was a much better solution as I now know that the documents are housed safely, other people have access for research to them (for instance, I sent my uncle's letters home from WWII - 5 2inch binders), and best of all, I can go visit to look thru them anytime I wish... I also gave items to the Detroit Historical Museum - again, a better solution to preserving the items than me putting them in a closet.

If your collection is manageable, keeping it at home is wonderful. But when it becomes very large, or you're not sure if the next generation will appreciate it like you do, finding a home like one of these libraries/museums could be the best solution in the long run.

BTW, I still have lots to remind me of my heritage and past generations. I didn't give it all up!!