Preface: This is the first post of many posts covering a genealogy project that will take place in 2023.

When my maternal grandmother passed away June 2022, I was told that I was getting her house and everything that goes with it. The act meant a lot to me; she chose me to preserve the family history collection that she built up.

Grandma’s goal, especially later in life, was to create a place to call home and if she let you in the door, you were allowed to make it your home, too. If you want something, you have to get it yourself. The warm environment that she created was likely one of the reasons why she chose to have hospice care at home for her final days.

Her walls were covered in large family photos, shelves lined with photo albums and books, and every room seemed to have a pile of genealogical materials for her to bring out to share with family. However, she was also a thrifty lady, loved the deals that she snatched up at garage sales and then having her own garage sales when she had outgrown her belongings. Frankly, she was ahead of Marie Kondo’s time.

So when I inherited the house and its contents, it was a tricky job. To be upfront about it, family members did a lot of the heavy lifting of cleaning out her house and listing the house since I live four hours away and have little kids. But when the executrix asked what I wanted, I said I wanted the family history materials.

About three carloads later, I have the treasures that my grandma loved and that were important to me to preserve. Some of her other treasures were passed along to other family members because those items meant more to them than to me.

But now I have boxes of my grandma’s things scattered around my genealogy room at my house. How do I integrate her materials into my already established collection of family history? I have to think like an archivist!

What I have decided to do is to demonstrate how I am processing the artifacts into my personal collection so that while I am maintaining the provenance to a point (noting the sources of the artifacts), I am now making this part of MY genealogical library.

This process can be intimidating to take on, but the process is to help create a flow chart of steps and to break down the large projects into bite-size pieces. Taking the time to look through the items can also help pull more information out of them to fill in holes that might be showing up in your research.

Over the next few months, I will walk you through:

  • Organizing items into: Keep, Throw, I Don’t Know
  • Mixing the artifact piles from different sources together to make one large collection
  • Storage of materials
  • Creating a finding aid or accession list for better accessibility of materials

You’re Getting Everything! Now What?
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