It's American Archives Month 2021: AKA Why Do We Keep So Much Stuff?

It's American Archives Month 2021: AKA Why Do We Keep So Much Stuff?

October is American Archives Month and I (Lindsey) have spent many years working in and around archival collections. So, to celebrate, this month I'll be posting a bit "from the archives".

And while I do have dreams to share my love of preservation with the world (and to make it easy and fun), today isn’t about that. Today isn’t about the “how” - it’s about the “why.”

If you've followed our blog you've probably noticed that a lot of same preservation tricks apply to both textiles and archival items (papers & images). Sure enough, most organic materials can be preserved in similar ways - by creating ideal storage environments and using "acid-free" storage solutions such as our padded hangers, lignin-free boxes, and inert plastic sleeves. Wait, hold on a minute. Are you starting to feel a bit overwhelmed? Stop right there! Caring for archival materials should feel fun and rewarding, not stressful.

Let’s get back to the “why”. Why do you have a literal trunk of photos behind the couch? Why do you still have your deceased Uncle’s cancelled stamp collection? Why do you let your kids play on their great-grandma’s little metal stool even though it might break, but keep other things locked away? Why do you keep any of it at all and how do you decide what to use and what to preserve?

Whew. There’s a lot to unpack there.*

So, your first assignment (ha! surprise homework) is to contemplate the “why”. Take some time to dig out the old papers and photos that are stored away in your home. Look them over, reminisce about how they came to be, and picture yourself sharing them on Antiques Roadshow.

Enjoy them for what they are. Celebrate the memories and if you’re inspired to do so, jot down a few notes about notable people or events. We can get to the preservation stuff later. For now, I encourage you to just have a lovely time going down memory lane, will you?

* and all examples are real. :)

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