1. Select a portion of your family papers.
Since I have several boxes, I decided to select Dad's correspondence from his early years through young adulthood.
When these papers originally came into my possession, I moved them from the dusty, musty boxes they had spent several decades in to the current boxes. The papers were placed in file folders (non-archival) and loosely labeled as follows. At the time, I kept things together and just moved them from the old boxes to the new:
- Correspondence 1933
- Correspondence 1937-38
- Letter to Mom 1938
- Letter to Dad 1946
- Correspondence family
- Navy correspondence
- Navy correspondence-personal
- Correspondence 1945
- Correspondence 1946
- Letter home from Illinois 1946
- Correspondence 1948
- Correspondence received 1940s-1950s
2. Go through each item, unfold and lay flat. Also remove any staples or rubber bands. Remove items from envelopes, if applicable. Place each item, letter or group of papers in it's own folder, if possible. You will have to use your own judgement on this step as to what makes sense for your situation and goals.
Since I'm working through Dad's correspondence, I placed each letter and envelope in it's own folder. The folders I used are thin, archival folders. Several of these can be placed inside a manilla folder.
Here's an example of the folders. For now I use sticky notes for labeling purposes until I'm ready to finalize.
NOTE: If you're working with letters and don't wish to save the envelope, it would be a good idea to make note on the letter, of the following, in pencil. Use square brackets like this[ ] to denote your comments.
- Names and addresses.
- Postmark date and place.
- Any other notations from the envelope you think might be important.
4. As you are doing these steps, it's a good idea to look at the documents to get an idea of what they are all about. The detail you wish to get into for these steps is totally up to you.
You may wish to do an item by item inventory and description. Or a more general inventory and description may suit you just fine. It depends on what you want to do with your collection long term.
Since we have had a really busy weekend, I'm going to write up my comments for this step in a separate post in the next day or two. Stay tuned...
Next week we digitize.
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© 2012, copyright Michelle Goodrum