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How to Prepare Your Documents for Long-Term Preservation

At FamilyArc, we employ museum-quality archiving standards to ensure your artifacts will last far into the future. After all, your family memories, whether it’s photos, videos, documents, or other media, are an important piece of the legacy you’ll leave to your loved ones.

In this article, we’ve put together a checklist and some tips to help you prepare your documents for long-term preservation.

What to Include

Consider the following categories when deciding what documents to archive:

☐ Correspondence (i.e. letters, notes, postcards)
☐ Journals/diaries
☐ Magazine articles
☐ Newspaper clippings
☐ Event tickets (from movies, concerts, sporting events, etc.)
☐ Old business cards
☐ Pamphlets or advertisements
☐ Paper or cardboard signs
☐ Family memoirs
☐ Artwork
☐ Posters
☐ Religious documentation (for baptisms, confirmations, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.)
☐ Genealogy records
☐ Stamps

Tip: When you have multiple items from the same category, resist the urge to digitize them all. Instead, choose a few that best represent each year, and archive those. For example, pick out one or two of your child’s best school art projects from a single year to digitize and preserve. Try not to save more than three items per year for each category.

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Tip: Other important documents to preserve in your archive could include birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, wills, property deeds, and financial documents, to name a few. Due to the personal and private nature of these documents, please do not include them in your FamilyArc archival box. Instead, ask your curator about FamilyArc’s on-premise digitizing services, or upload them directly to your Private Vault from your personal computer.

How to Organize

Look over the documents you’ve chosen to keep, and begin grouping related items together. Then, make a list of your piles and see if you can combine groups or create subcategories within a larger category. You may choose to use the categories listed above, or you may choose to organize by time period, person, location, or event. Write the name of the category on each envelope, and place your documents inside.

Tip: Choose high-level names that can be flexible over time. For example, you can archive several different types of documents such as newspaper clippings, letters, and genealogy records from your grandfather under the category “WWII Era” or “Grandpa Roger.”

Want more tips on how to prepare your artifacts for long-term preservation—including photos, videos, and other physical items?

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