2023.09.06 – The Grumpy Old Man’s Guide to Safeguarding Family Treasures


By Pat Smart,
Copyright (c), 2023

In my day, we didn’t have the cloud, thumb drives, or even CDs. No siree, our memories were captured in black and white photographs, fading letters, and dusty artifacts. And while I think kids are glued to their devices a little too much. I am, too, if the truth be known. Technology does have its benefits; especially when it comes to preserving those good ol’ family treasures.

Here’s how this Grumpy Old Man suggests you handle it.

1. Organize, Don’t Agonize: The first step in safeguarding memories is not letting them get lost in the clutter of your attic. Start by sorting out photographs, letters, and documents. Chronological order works, or you could get fancy and do it by event or family member. Your pick!

2. Digitize the Past: For Pete’s sake, we’re in the 21st century! Use a decent scanner to digitize old photos and letters. There are scanners for less than $100 online. Most printers can scan documents and photos. If you’ve got family videos on old VHS tapes, convert them to digital. Again, there are VHS to Digital converters online. Not only does this ensure they survive longer, but they’ll also be easier to share with those tech-savvy grandkids. Plus, there’s less chance they’ll accidentally get tossed out during spring cleaning.

3. The Art of Archiving: Don’t skimp on this. For physical copies, use acid-free paper and photo-safe albums. Avoid placing items where they can be damaged by sunlight, moisture, or Aunt Gertrude’s wandering cat. Consider vacuum-sealed bags if you want to preserve clothes or other artifacts. They’re not just for food, you know.

4. Oral Histories: Speak Up! Grandma Maureen’s stories from the war, or how Great Uncle Bob had that strange canned beans obsession, deserve preservation. Use voice recording apps or good old-fashioned Dictaphones. Once recorded, save them on multiple platforms — trust me, redundancy is your friend.

5. Display with Dignity: Heirlooms aren’t just meant for storing away — they are history on display! Use shadow boxes for medals, trinkets, or other 3D items. Just remember to keep them out of direct sunlight and in moderate temperatures.

6. Share and Educate: Don’t let it gather digital or physical dust once you’ve done all this. Share copies with family. Create online albums, make a family history website, or even hold a family history day where everyone gathers, and you reveal all. Think of it as an exhibition of your family’s legacy.

In the end, memories are meant to be cherished, stories are meant to be told, and history is meant to be shared. So, from The Grumpy Old Man to you, roll up those sleeves and make sure your family’s tapestry remains rich and vivid for generations to come. Just remember, it’s not about hoarding the past, it’s about celebrating it.

Pat Smart

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