Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sorting Saturday - Artifact and Heirloom Inventory

Many years ago I had to pack up everything in my parents house and move it. At the time, I lived in Germany and I wasn't able to move the things overseas. So off to a storage space they went (yes, it was climate-controlled!). When we moved back to the States, the storage space moved to our current location. But I have just now gotten up the nerve to begin going through the items. It's hard to look at all of those memories and to be the manager of the sum total of my parents physical property. Earlier this week I dove in and brought four boxes home from the storage space to go through. As I opened one I found many of my parents school yearbooks and other random ephemera. All of it precious to me, but all of it something that can not be kept in my house at this point. My goal is to carefully catalog the items and return them safely packed to the storage space. Ultimately, I hope to have the storage space carefully cataloged and organized so when the time comes to move again we can move only what is necessary.

I knew I wanted to take a careful inventory of the items I found (many of which will make for many sweet blog posts, I might add.) But a Google search did not turn up any registers or inventory sheets that seemed to fit what I wanted. In my typical fashion, I opted to create my own.
Click to enlarge
I included the following categories: Item number, Name or type of item, physical description, condition, family member it pertains to, provenance, history and significance and storage location.

After entering many items it works well. Now I'm going to step away from it from a bit and then return to see if it still fits my needs. Am I answering all the questions I will want to know years from now...or what my children or fellow researchers will want to know? Now that I have the document information in one place I can easily ask my parents for more information on each item. Questions like...who was that cute boy writing you love letters in the 8th grade, Mom?


Elizabeth said...

I like this idea and your form. I hope you don't mind if I create something along these lines for my own use. A thought/suggestion: what about taking a photo of each item, even if it's just the cover of the yearbook, and then you can have a digital image of the item. You could name the digital file in such a way that it references the box number and item number.

I have lots of stuff from when my mother downsized eight years ago and I need to go through it all and, yes, ask her who is in the various photos. I'm sure that questions will generate great stories, too!

I look forward to reading about your success in organizing the random ephemera.

zelsersk said...

That's a great form. I need to get organized too.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

@Elizabeth- of course you can borrow this. So far I have only inventoried one box, but I've found it really easy to use. I have scanned some things, but was a little to lazy to scan them all. I have been torn about whether to save the scanned images into the individual's folder or keep all scanned images from one inventoried box in the same folder. Thanks for your tip!

Shelley Bishop said...

This is a great system and form you've developed, Heather. We're gradually packing up our house in preparation for a move, and I think a form like this would really help me keep track of the family keepsakes I'm boxing up. I like Elizabeth's idea of photographing some of the treasures, too. Then if we end up putting things in storage, or leaving them boxed up in the new house, I'll have an inventory of sorts. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

While I don't have as many items as you do, your form is going to really help me with my inventory. Thank you.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Karen, good luck with your inventory! Let me know if you have any suggestions with the form once you have put it to use.