Today's Sorting Saturday post is about organizing your family papers. It's a big topic, so I'll post on this for the next few Saturdays.
Librarians catalog, but archivists arrange and describe. Archivists nearly always work with original records, not photocopies or printouts. When they arrange and describe collections, they work from the general to the specific, working toward collections of paper or photos at a folder level.
It's common to get bogged down and obsess about individual pieces of paper at the start, but it's more helpful to think about your family collection as a whole. So for today let's start by thinking about the kinds of records you might find in your family's papers.
1. Personal Papers, including:
Artwork and drawings
Audio or written anecdotes and reminiscences
Diaries and journals
Ephemera, such as bookmarks, invitations, tickets
Family and personal correspondence
Report cards and diplomas
Wills, trusts and probate records
2. Professional or Business Records, including:
Banking and financial paperwork
Bills of sale
Honors and awards
Résumés and vitas
Volunteer and charitable records
3. Family records, including:
Bibles or other religious items
Family reunion records
Group correspondence (“round robin” letters)
Do you have other items in your family papers that you have questions about? Feel free to ask in the comments section. And tune in next Saturday for some tips about arrangement and storage of your family's original records.