by Ginni Gass
So you've decided to think about doing something with those old photographs and memorabilia that have been hanging around for years. Congratulations! It really isn't as difficult as you think! Just follow some simple guidelines and you'll be amazed at how easy and rewarding heritage scrapbooking can be.
The layout in Figure 1 is a good example of why a heritage album is so important. This layout displays several post cards which my mother received while she was in high school from a friend who had traveled during the Christmas holiday. I scanned the postage sides of the post cards, computer printed the handwriting, sprayed the post cards with Archival Mist to stop the decaying process and then mounted the original post cards with photo corners. When my mother saw this layout she was very touched that I had taken such care to preserve a treasured memory. My daughter enjoyed seeing what her grandmother was like at a young age. This memory will now be passed along to future generations who will be able to "see" what kind of person my mother was. That is priceless!
To begin with, you need to be sure that you handle your photographs and memorabilia with extreme care. The printing processors of days gone by did not know about acid and lignin. Many of these items are frail and brittle. Before doing anything, consider making color copies of your photographs and memorabilia. The Kodak Picture Maker and the Sony Picture Station are ideal tools for this if you don't own a scanner and color printer. There are also many photographic shops, which will be invaluable for helping to restore and copy old photographs. If your memorabilia is too big or bulky to include in your album, how about making a color copy of it? Should you choose to use memorabilia or original letters, etc., be sure to protect these items with a preservation product such as Archival Mist. This will stop the aging and decaying process allowing you to place the item in your album.
If you have photographs that are in those "magnetic albums" which were so popular in the 70s, get them out as quickly as possible! The chemicals making those pages "magnetic" eat away the papers from the back of your photographs and will ruin them in a very short period of time. Using dental floss and the lowest possible setting on a hair dryer will usually be sufficient to remove the photographs from the magnetic pages. If that doesn't work, Undu® will. Undu® is a petroleum based liquid which will remove duct tape from toilet paper! It is available in most craft and scrapbook stores. Still, it is recommended that you make copies of these photographs as the chemicals may not be completely removed and can still harm your photographs.
Be sure to make copies of Polaroids! Polaroid pictures contain chemicals, which will not only ruin the picture, but can also ruin the other elements in your album.
Mounting corners are highly recommended rather than permanent adhesives. They can be found in many different styles, colors and shapes. In fact, there are even punches which will create corners to match your papers. Should you decide to permanently mount your photographs and memorabilia, be sure to use an adhesive that is guaranteed acid-free and archival quality. It is worth the expense to purchase a good quality adhesive when working with heritage items. After all, the purpose is to preserve the items. Using the wrong adhesive can ruin your precious memories.
Most important in a heritage album is journaling! I'm sure that you have pictures lying around and have no clue who the people are, where the picture was taken or why the event was important enough to have a picture taken of it in the first place. It is vital that you write down as much information as you can remember as soon as possible. If you have older relatives, be sure to interview them as soon as possible. I read a story of one woman who thought she'd have plenty of time to speak to her older relative about their family traditions, customs, etc. The person suddenly died and all that valuable information was lost forever.
The Internet is an invaluable tool when researching your genealogy! When preparing the layout in Figure 2, I found a family website that I never knew existed! It had less information on my husband's grandmother than I had. But it had more information on other relatives than I had. Therefore, we were able to share our information and help each other out. (This layout was published in the January 2004 issue of Ivy Cottage Magazine.) I have listed several resources below, which will help you get started.
The main thing to remember about preparing a heritage album is that you are preserving the past for future generations. If you keep this in mind while creating your album, you will end up with a beautiful treasure that generations to come will be very thankful for!
Cherished Albums by Ginni
Heritage poems and quotes websites:
What is your favorite childhood memory?
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life, and why?
What advice would you give to future generations?
If you had to summarize your life philosophy, what would it be?
What is the hardest thing you've had to deal with in your life?
What is the happiest moment in your life?
What do you want people to remember about you?
What people have been most important in your life, and why?
How did your parents meet each other?
If you have a relative who has served in a war, ask about their service - where they were stationed, who their friends were, etc.
Ask about significant events such as D-Day, stock market crash, The Depression, bombing of Pearl Harbor, etc.
Ask about inventions and lifestyle changes - automobiles, electricity, space travel, etc.
Ask about what they remember about their children's births, funny stories growing up, etc.
Don't forget to write down what you remember about these things as well!
Genealogy Resources and Historical Background:
Receive a free monthly e-zine by going to www.familytreemagazine.com - This has valuable research information each month with links to other sites, updates on legislative information, etc.
The US Census Bureau and all state governments are also valuable resources for genealogical information.
Scrapbooking Idea Books:
Creating Keepsakes' The Big Idea Book of Heritage Memories
Memory Makers' Heritage Scrapbook Ideas
New Ideas for Crafting Heritage Albums by Bev Kirschner Brau