Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

Learn how to leave a family legacy — and earn your descendants' appreciation.

Preservationists come in many forms: curators and archivists; family photographers and videographers; genealogists, the discoverers of past generations’ memories; and even scrapbookers, who turn preservation into an outlet for creative expression.

When I think about preserving family memories, though, my mental images of the camcorder-wielding Uncle Harveys and camera-happy cousin Lulus of the world (“Hey, Grandma, can you blow out those 97 candles again? The glare over here ruined my angle!”) pan to visions of Bob Hope.

What does a comedian and entertainer have to do with preserving family memories, you ask? He’s given us preservationists an anthem. We share a common goal: leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Years from now, we want our descendants to be able to look back at the memories we’ve captured — through ancestral research, dance-recital videos, family portraits and carefully created heritage layouts — and say, “Thanks for the memory,”

You can almost hear Bob Hope crooning, can’t you?

And once you have the proper preservation know-how, you’ll be able to envision your future relatives singing along. That’s where this special issue of Family Tree Magazine comes in. Within these pages, you’ll learn how to safeguard your family treasures and create keepsakes your kin will cherish. No matter what form your desire to preserve memories takes — genealogy, scrapbooking, photography — you’ll find tools and advice to help you achieve your goal.

For genealogists, your biggest challenge may be preserving your research in a form that won’t make your relatives’ eyes glaze over, After all, census records and cemetery transcriptions don’t excite everyone. But your family will appreciate a handsome family tree outlining your ancestry.

Genealogists are often family archivists as well as researchers: You (happily, of course) become the recipients of all kinds of artifacts. How do you protect those heirlooms? We’ll show you how to keep Grandma’s wedding gown in tiptop condition, and safely store the old family Bible. You’ve probably inherited old photos, too. If your collection includes glass or metal pictures displayed in a special box, or “case,” you possess some of the earliest photographic images. Photo historian Maureen A. Taylor explains how to identify and safely preserve them.

If you’re the designated family photographer, don’t snap another shot before reading our guide. A prize-winning professional photographer shares his secrets for taking stellar family pictures — and avoiding those shots where Dad’s face is obscured in shadows, or red eye makes your baby niece look like a demon child. You’ll also discover how to create long-lasting prints from your computer: Now, you can produce pictures that will outlast the 35 mm prints from your drugstore photo lab (without a major hit to your wallet).

Your family’s photos and genealogical records may have the most meaning to your descendants as part of a heritage album. Whether you’re an old hand at scrapbooking or a novice, look to the 17 techniques to capture the essence of your ancestors’ daily lives.

Thanks to the archival-quality scrapbook and preservation supplies available today, your descendants could be flipping through those heritage-album pages 75 or even 100 years from now. Imagine how grateful they’ll be that you preserved those memories. And if you need any more inspiration, just think of Bob Hope.
From Family Tree Magazine‘s September 2003 Preserving Your Memories.

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