Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting to know my extended family, learning family history, and hearing the stories that are passed down through the generations. As with most American families, there is a theme of leaving the homeland, arriving in the United States, and heading west; and a legacy of hard work, dreams, trials, and love. I’ve also collected artifacts over the years, such as letters, photographs, books, textiles, recipes, china, mementos, and gifts.
In November I used some of these artifacts to create a couple of family history videos. They were prototypes, both to learn how to use the Movavi software, and to experiment with incorporating photos, maps, and newspaper clippings to enrich the reading of the letters. See Toolkit: Family History with Grandma Nina and Toolkit: Family History with Grandma Char.
During the writing and filming of the videos, I realized that my personal artifacts are stored all over the house. Letters, journals, and mementos are in the garage; letters from my two grandmothers are in folders in the downstairs guest room/office; physical photos are organized in photo boxes in the living room; digital photos are mostly archived to the cloud, with others stored on various computers and devices; and textile treasures—those that are embroidered, crocheted, knit, and woven—reside in various closets or in boxes stored under beds.
There is a level of organization imposed, but, if I want to go deeper with my family history project, I’m realizing that I need a better taxonomy for identifying, cataloging, and retrieving these objects. I would like to curate the objects that still have meaning, and to purge those that have not stood the test of time. In the months ahead, I hope to see what I can learn about how to organize a personal collection of family memories.