This is inspired by an older thread called "Get your aging parents to downsize asap if they are still in their single family home."

We've just held a Celebration of Life for my late mother. It fell to me to sort through the large cardboard box of memorabilia she had saved through many years and several moves. It was a touching task. It was bitter-sweet and I don't begrudge doing it. The pictures were a treasure. Some of them raised questions. Who is she with in this picture? What year was this? Why did she keep this -- what did it mean to her?

Going through their memory stashes with your parents while they can still answer your questions would be, in my opinion, a very worthwhile activity.

And organizing/purging/sorting and especially LABELING your own photos and keepsakes would be just as worthwhile for your descendants as downsizing your belongings. If push came to push they could hire a professional to handle your tea cups and rocking chairs and hooked rugs. But only you can provide context and identification to things you've kept for sentiment.

If they/you have loose hardcopy photos, label each on the back with a soft blue pencil made for the purpose (so as not to mar the front.) Sort them into boxes or envelopes by topic/year.

If they/you have electronic photos, sort them into folders by topic/year. (E.g. 1997 Garden Party, 2008 Picnics, 2011 Fourth of July) Identify the subject in the file name (Patty.Jo.Marcy 2012) If you have time and inclination, save only the best of the near-duplicates. Delete the blurry and unrecognizable.

A well-edited and organized set of memorabilia will be a blessing for descendants after you are gone!

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
jeannegibbs, talk about perfect timing. Last night I was going through a ton of old photos.... some that were very small and looked like someone took pinking shears around the sides which was common back in the 1940's and 50's.... other so tiny that one would need a major magnifying glass. Then there were the ones from the late 1800's on heavy cardboard, with no one smiling... oh my gosh the heavy clothing they wore.

So I got out two plastic bins and started to toss loose photos of Mom's side of the family, and the other bin Dad's side of the family. I had to take photos out the old black paper photo albums where the photos had been glued but the photos had become lose. Then in other albums pull out photos from those 4 corner black v-shape photo holders.

How I wished I would have gone through these photos with my parents, as there were many "who is that person?". Who is that handsome fellow my Mom was hugging, as it was long before my Dad showed up in my Mom's life?" Funny we sometimes think of our parents always being older and that they never had a social life before marriage or during marriage :P

My Dad had a ton of slide photos which I had to hold up to the light to see what was on them. Dad was big on scenery photos, lakes, trees, boulders, snow but those I tossed as for me photos with people in them were more important.

Christmas tree photos.... I noticed every year the cut tree got small and smaller until it was a 3 foot plastic tree sitting on a table.

Once I identify people, I will mark on the back who they are. I have no children, but some of the cousins do, so eventually I will send those photos to them so that their children can pass the photos down to their grandchildren.

One of the projects I keep putting off is to scan and make notations about all of the photographs, I have many my parents inherited from their parents so many of the family stories are already lost. The problem is that the next generation just doesn't seem to care at all about any of it so it seems like a pointless exercise.

Start a Discussion
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter