Most of you probably read about the horrible wildfires that burned through San Diego County last month. Although part of my family was evacuated during the first few days, all of our homes were safe. Hundreds of other people weren’t so lucky.
As I stood on my balcony the day the fire started, watching the smoke get closer and closer, I thought about what I would put in the car in case I had to evacuate. There was no question in my mind: The only things I knew I had to save were the boxes of family photos, my research, and my grandmother and mother’s wedding gowns.
The fire started me thinking about how important it is to ensure the safety of our family memories. Obviously, we can’t duplicate one-of-a-kind mementos to distribute among other family members. But, we can make sure everything of importance is copied or scanned, then e-mailed or mailed to other relatives for safekeeping. Those of you who have created heirloom scrapbooks or family genealogy books are way ahead of the gamejust keep adding information as you find it.
When we first started climbing our family trees, it probably didn’t occur to most of us that we were also preserving our family heritage. But, as our collections of Valentines, military medals, immigration papers, and school grade cards grew, it became clear that part of our genealogical path was to preserve mementos as well as memories.
If you haven’t yet begun your “preservationist” career, here are a few excellent sites to get you started:
• Preserving Your Research
• Tips for the Care of Water-Damaged Family Heirlooms
• Preserving War Letters
• Preservation and Storage Tips
• How To Save Your Stuff from Disaster (a book you can order)
• How to Donate Your Published Genealogy to the Library of Congress