Do you have family heirlooms hiding away in a trunk or cupboard? Do you know the stories behind each keepsake and have you recorded those stories? One small artifact might be an important key to understanding an ancestor’s life. Here are some simple steps you can take now to preserve the memories behind each heirloom.
I am the daughter of a keeper of heirlooms. My mother has kept jewelry, clothes, dishes, books, pillows, quilts, and more. When she moved from her home of fifty years, she went through her cedar chest with my sister and me. As we divvied up her treasures, she told us stories we hadn’t heard before. She pulled out the sailor pants my dad wore in the navy and the red knit suit she wore when she married my dad. Who knew that it was red? Not me, I had only seen the black and white picture.
My daughter tried it on and even wore it to church the next day. What a fun connection between grandmother and granddaughter.
I came home with a car full of treasures. As I found a place for each item in my home, I realized that I needed to record that item and the story behind it. Memory is fleeting and I didn’t want to rely on mine. I typed up a list of all the heirlooms and their location in my home and printed out several copies. One went in my files and another in my trunk where many of the heirlooms are housed. The trunk is an heirloom in it’s own right, once belonging to my great aunt Effie Kelsey who hand painted the decorations.
That was over three years ago and sure enough, I’m grateful to have my list. I included my own keepsakes on the list because someday they’ll be heirlooms that my grandchildren will save and treasure. When I give those away, I’ll include the story that goes with it.
Now it’s time to share those treasures with other family members and record those stories permanently. Where is the perfect place to do this? FamilySearch Memories! Only one family member gets to own an heirloom, but by photographing it and writing a description, that heirloom is recorded for the ages.
My mother gave me a white china bowl that belonged to my grandmother Ettie Belle, the only heirloom I have from her. I took a photo of the white china bowl, uploaded it to FamilySearch and added a short story. In a very short time, I’ve preserved a bit of my grandmother’s life and contributions.
What steps can you take to preserve your heirlooms and the stories they hold? Here are four suggestions.
How to Preserve the Memories Behind Your Heirlooms
1. Make an inventory of all the heirlooms in your home, type a list, and put it in multiple digital and physical locations.
2. Photograph each heirloom and put a simple description in the file name.
3. Research the story behind the heirloom. Ask other family members if you don’t know.
4. Upload the photo and the story to FamilySearch to share with others.
Best of luck in your efforts to preserve memories!