Dusty Musty old papers, again?!!

writingYes, there is more to talk about with those old documents, letters, photographs, items and more papers that are old and from your ancestors.

What to do with them.

If there is only one child, the decision is easy, it is all passed down to that one child, but what happens to all of them if there are two or several children in the family? Divide them, take what you want, throw them away or burn them – NO!


Not only do these items have important information to your family, but they most likely also have historical documentation to the history of your town, county, state, nation, perhaps even the world.

It is vital that you understand that perhaps you do not see any significance in them now, but later there may be very much significance indeed.


Keep them together in one place. Were they all in one trunk? Continue to store them there until you have a container of similar size that will be able to preserve them for years and generations yet to arrive. The problem with separating them, having each family member hold some of them and others hold different items, is that once they are separated, you lose the connection of them, or the timeline of them. Or, lets face it, they end up getting lost to never be found again.

Here are two examples of letters:

  1. One family found years of handwritten letters of their ancestry, from the 1600’sEmailTextMessage

    through the early 1900’s. There was one particular set of family letters that told of deceit, struggle, forgiveness, and because of the dates and the locations, they were also of historical significance to our country. Four of the seven siblings each took some of the letters with them. Now to get the whole story of what happened and why it happened, the letters should be kept together in one place so the facts stay accurate. However, because of whatever reason, they ended up sharing the letters in photocopies, but, two of the siblings refused to keep the letters together.  Now only two of the siblings have all the letters and for some reason they only have the photocopies as well. Now what is being told is heresay, and some of it is not accurate. The letters and photocopies were presented to show the truth of what happened, but, How fast will those original letters or photocopies disappear? – one generation. Once one of those two siblings pass away, those letters will be lost, given to a child or grandchild, but no one will know who until it happens. Trying to get a hold of them again will make it harder and harder as each family member passes.

  2. In my own family, there are items and letters and the family bible that was separated and now, trying to go back 3 generations to figure out who theNewspaperClippingsy were passed on to is proving nearly impossible, if not impossible. No one seems to know who actually got them, the ones who were supposed to have them have passed away themselves and the ones that we have been able to contact do not have them. So, where did these mysteriously disappear? Perhaps another generation or two they will be discovered by a descendant, or perhaps they have been discarded as no one wanted to claim them at the time or knowing what to do with them.

There may not be any family member wanting any of this family history you have, so what do you do with it then, as your time on earth nears an end?


Perhaps you could donate the whole container they are in to a local library or museum. Maybe put the in a lock-box to be opened by a grandchild/niece/nephew to be opened when they are 40.

Is there an Historical Society you could give them to, explain the situation and perhaps they have an area to store such things.

What about a time capsule in the foundation of a building? – That one is a bit of a stretch, does anyone do anything like that anymore?

Whatever you do with them, keep them together in a safe place with acid free paper/photo holders and if you are writing on them #6B pencils, polypropylene or inert plastic for storage containers.



Published by humblegenealogist @ humblegenealogy.com we do the digging so you can enjoy the tree

Starting in 1970, the experience and journey has created well-seasoned researching techniques. Current and active participation in continuing education, staying up to date with technology, and including weekly contact with other professional genealogists: including family historians, genealogy clubs and historical societies, keeps the knowledge and ongoing learning in an ever changing world up to date.

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