Gathering it all in one place

I’ve been collecting and inheriting a steady flow of photos, documents, and stuff from my family since I showed an interest in family heritage in 2001. I didn’t have a lot until after my husband and I moved cross-country and bought a house, which coincided with the time that both of my mother’s parents passed away. As things flowed into my hands for safekeeping and digital conversion, I stashed them in various “safe places” around my house with the dangerous attitude of I’ll get those sorted out someday.

Fast forward six years: I’m finally settling into my home office with enough space to store everything. I’m dedicated to storing my family’s photographs and historical documents in a temperature-controlled environment because I want to preserve them (duh), so scattering them in the basement or in/near the attic was never an option. There’s an  additional workflow benefit of having them in my office, too, because when I’m four hours into a marathon scanning session, it’s handy to have everything all in one place. Even if “all in one place” looks like an intimidating mountain of unattainable goals:

This pile both excites and terrifies me.

Photo does not include the two dozen or so shoeboxes already stacked in the closet (though half of those are admittedly just mine from teenage years and up) or the lone albums that may still be stashed in safe places around the house. There are some boxes under the table that you can’t really see from this photo… but do you see my cat? Tee hee.

Over the holidays, I managed to gather most of the stuff as you see above. I took this photo in January and it only took me two months to start up a blog and finally share it! Talk about progress!

Actually, I am making some real progress. I placed an order this last week for some honest-to-goodness archival supplies from University Products. We’re talking sturdy, museum-grade boxes that are buffered with 3% calcium carbonate to scare off evil, harmful acids; museum-grade file folders and labels; reusable, all-organic book deodorizer to get rid of some horrible musty smells that have penetrated some of the albums and boxes (please, get your photos out of the basement RIGHT NOW); and some acid-free tissue paper that I can use to separate certain photos and wrap 3-dimensional objects in for safe storage.

If you have a careful eye, you can see that there are already some archival-quality boxes in my Intimidating Mountain of Unattainable Goals. I’ve purchased those over the years from a chain scrapbooking store called Archivers (where I worked part-time for a brief period… mostly because of the employee discount on their preservation stuff). When I got serious about organization for long-term storage, I needed to find a company that would better suit my wannabe-archivist needs. After my free University Products catalog arrived in August, I spent so much time with it that my husband and I now affectionately refer to it as my archival porn. It’s true. I love the thought of organization almost as much as I love a row of perfectly-labeled matching boxes on a shelf.

You call it a psychological disorder, I call it winning the war against entropy.

Anyway! Museum-grade products are expensive everywhere, but University Products offers quantity discounts on archival supplies which, when combined with an awesome discount code, helped bring down the overall cost. I expect that it will still be about a week before I receive my precious archival materials. Waiting is the hard part! At least I have plenty of scanning to keep me busy… maybe this week I’ll start sharing some of my finds.

Or maybe I’ll spend that time imagining what I could do with a $2,360 Book Suction Table.

Seriously, who WOULDN'T want a book suction table?!

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