Saturday, October 15, 2011

Next Steps in the Archival Closet on Sorting Saturday

Last week I shared progress that has been made with the Archival Closet. This week I'd like to share with you the next step taken over the summer. There were still many boxes of documents in the Family Home that had to be removed and sorted through when we put the house on the market. Here was my crash course procedure. The objective was twofold:
  1. Reduce the volume of documents, cards and photos.
  2. Get a basic organizational scheme going so that I could merge the additions into the collection I already have at home.
My hope is that if you are dealing with boxes and boxes a large collection of family papers, photos, and other heirlooms, this will in some way be of assistance to you.

    Step One - Supplies - whatever was on hand from the house: old file folders, boxes, folder trays, etc. I did not worry about archival quality at this point.

    Step Two - One box at a time, quickly examine each folder, envelope full of papers or whatever. Keep or discard? Try really, really hard not to get sucked into reminiscing at this point. It's hard...

    Step Three - If the item is a keeper, which family member(s) does it relate to?

    Step Four - If there isn't a box, or portion of a box already dedicated to this individual, set one up.

    Step Five - What is the topic of these documents? Get a file folder, if the documents aren't already in one, and put a label on the folder with the topic. At this point, since I'm using mostly old file folders, I either would write directly on the tab of the folder or write on a sticky note and attach that to the folder tab.

    Step Six - File the item in the appropriate person's box.

    After a while, I started running across documents for which I already had a folder. So into the folder the new documents went.

    Box after box went through this process and after a while, the volume began to decrease since not everything was worth keeping, and a very rudimentary organizational scheme began to emerge.

    Here is one of the boxes that hasn't yet made it home. No, it's not pretty. Everything most certainly will not be kept but in order to determine what to ultimately save we have to get "like things together" to see the big picture.

    The next step is to incorporate these files into the Archival Closet using archival safe - acid free, lignin free supplies - and continuing to cull as I sort. There is a deadline too: Thanksgiving. You see all these boxes are being stored in Oldest Daughter's room. They have got to be cleared out before said daughter comes home for Thanksgiving!

    © 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


    1. What a tremendous job and what great directions you have given for others who are faced with a similar challenge.

      And our oldest daughter doesn't like anything 'extra' to be in her room either when she comes home.

    2. My strategy has been to deal with the thousands of photos I have FIRST. I have separated them into 5 huge photo containers. The photos with just ONE child as a subject or an occasion (birthday, wedding) dealing with that child was easy. What's not easy are the group photos.. with more than one. Since there are 5 children to consider.. I take those photos, scan them and put them on CD's for each child in the picture.
      Ta Dah!.. Christmas presents ... solved!

    3. Michelle - I love your box idea because of it's portability! Like you, I was keeping everything in one of my college son's room, but he's graduated now and living at home and I no longer have a dedicated genealogy space. He's letting me keep my filing cabinet in his room - thank heavens because I would have had to move it to the back porch I think! I thought about trying to come up with a system that would fit under my bed, but not enough time to reorganize! Keep it up! Sounds like your doing great!

    4. So Glad I found this blog. Very helpful. Look forward to more posts Michelle. :)

    5. First off, how wonderful to HAVE so many Family Papers and Photos to go through. Thanks so much for all the good organizing tips. I've been organizing photos in much the same way plus planning ahead for scanning them to share with other family members while I keep the orginals. A Big undertaking, but one that will be worth it in the end. Enjoyed visiting your blog.

    6. Thank you CollectIn Texas Gal. It is wonderful to have to many Family Papers and Photos even if it is a lot of work. lol We just keep plugging away, don't we?

    7. After my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I went through the attic, separating trash from treasure. Separated items by family, sometime family member if enough (e.g, My uncle who served in the war got two boxes: Frank’s memorabilia and Frank’s correspondence)
      Gartz family photos (Dad’s side) Koroschetz family photos (mom’s side); then photo boxes by years (post 1960; pre 1960); documents, etc. We ended up with 25 Bankers’ boxes. Year 2000, brothers came out again and we made a spread sheet of what was in each box: eg, Box 14 (Gartz Familly memorabilia and letters) -- then itemized 14.01 letters from Europe; 14.02 grandpa’s stopwatch; 14.03. Gma’s songbook from Grosspold; 14.04 notebook with Josef Gartz’s name on it,
      That spread sheet is a salvation -- when I want to know where something is, I can scan it (it’s about 20 pages of 1/8” excel lines) but boy is it handy. It took us about a week,all three working together to create that -- so you do need help. It STILL didn’t include every detail (like the photos in each album listed), but what a help.Simultaneously, we created a Date spreadsheet, so that each date we came across was entered immediately (from birth certificates, graduation diplomas, etc.) so that we didn’t have to go through again to find those. Still -- I’m finding more info as I get old German letters deciphered into readable German and translate to English.

      What your doing is so important. Your kids will thank you! (I hope!) Congratulations on tackling such a big project!

    8. Thanks Linda. It sounds like we have comparable collections - size wise. You have some really good organizational tips. I hope my kids will appreciate this project someday. My goal is to leave them with something worth having rather than an enormous number of boxes full of "old stuff."

      I'm glad you stopped by and took the time to comment in depth!