06 May 2013

"No longer saved for generations, family heirlooms are being shed"

My great great grandfather's thimbles -- he was a saddler from Scotland who settled in Oldham England

Paula Stewart Warren (Paula's Genealogical Eclectica) posted a piece with the above title which was based on an article which ran in the Star-Tribune which talks about people “shedding” heirlooms.

As my husband would say, Sacrebleu!

Basically, I grew up in a family where there were “few” heirlooms.  As the product of emigrants new (1960s) and old (c. 1900), everyone traveled lightly.  My mother did inherit a few pieces from her grandmother (which she divided amongst her daughters) and then I have acquired a few pieces from a great aunt.  Additionally few pictures survived the vagaries of life, weather, remarriages, etc.  And, there were never any diaries, scrapbooks or similar.

So, the few items I have are treasures to me; though, I can appreciate that they are just “stuff” to my kids. I do sometimes wonder what will happen when I am no longer here as a steward for my little collection.  I have often thought about whether I should “deposit” any of it with a library or archive?  For now, in my will, they are explicitly bequeathed to my children.  Will they care?  Will they hold onto it until they recognize the value?

How often are we “looking” for just the things that the article talks about as being shed?  I found it painful to read.

Have you made plans for your “stuff” to remain in the family or end up in a local archive?

How do we ensure that people understand the “value” of such “stuff” beyond the dollars and cents that a sale might bring?

Editor’s Note: Check out this related Upfront with NGS post -- Digitizing Curios -- A neat window into hard-to-digitize objects!

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