As much fun as an estate sale can be there is one thing that disturbs me.It seems at every sale I find family pictures, (at times boxes full) letters, scrapbooks of family memories, yearbooks, family bibles, military records, and the list goes on and on. These items are left behind by the children and other relatives that are over seeing the estate. I remember once I bought a large box full of different size picture frames for which I paid a dollar. I noticed that many of the frames had family pictures in them. I offered to take them out but was told they go with the frames. The relatives did not want them. I have seen oil paintings of the family being sold for a few dollars. Last week I was in the basement at an estate sale and someone had spilled a large box of family papers all over the floor. As I picked them up I saw several picture books and many loose photographs. Also many letters. When I went back up stairs I gave them to the people who were running the sale. They told me I could keep them as the children of this estate did not want them. I took them home and took a closer look. In the box were 158 family letters. The earliest date that I saw was 1948 and ran to 1962. What family historian wouldn’t like to get their hands on those letters? But I have more. Also in this box I found over 50 news clippings of all types about the family. Lets not forget the pictures, and about 15 years worth of school report cards including college. As I was leaving the sale the lady who was in charge called me over. She took out a stack of about 25 pictures that were professionally done in a studio. The dates ranged from the 1880s up to the 1920s. Some were group pictures some were of a single person. They were all named. She had tried to give it to the three children of the estate, but along with the other items I listed above they did not want them. She was keeping these for herself.
As the self-appointed family historian I at times wonder what will happen to all my work. I have filled bookshelves of binders with family history, photo albums, books that talk about my family and many other related items. I am sure that if you have been working on your family history for any amount of time you have a good size collection yourself. We should start at once to take steps to safeguard our family history. Find someone in the family that will look after our collection. Find a local genealogy society, or a library that would add it to their collection. We should clearly mark our files so that anyone can tell what it is at a glance. In future blogs I hope to address this issue as I myself take action. Would like to hear your thoughts.