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How To Preserve Your Family Memorabilia Before It's Too Late

Morales Ernestina
Donna Guerra
Ernestina Morales

A Zoom workshop this weekend reminds people that their family histories are important, and the time to preserve them is now. Archivist Donna Guerra said that, in a sense, the odds are stacked against you to be able to take the time to effectively preserve family history.

“We're workaday people. We're busy, we're doing this and that. But we do have a place in history,” she said.

Historias Familiares
Donna Guerra
Historias Familiares

If you don’t actively work to preserve family history, it slips away as the members of your family pass on. Guerra said the methods you use to store your family history really matter.

“Not in an outside storage shed — that's kind of disastrous. Or in a garage. That's really not a good idea,” Guerra said. “You don't want to find any roach eggs in your things. They love to eat paper if it's poorly stored, and glue and bindings of books.”

To help you get up to speed on what to do and how to do it, the Esperanza Center and The Museo Del Westside will sponsor a best practices workshop over Zoom on Saturday. Guerra said it will show you how to store the many kinds of personal archives.

“So that can be any kind of paper document. From letters to certificates of some kind,” she said. “And then photographs are paper documents also, but they're treated differently. And any sort of even objects, say your mother's wedding dress.”

Romana Ramos
Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Archive
Romana Ramos

Those who do this kind of thing know that these efforts can be quite expensive.

“I'm going to give the ideal version, which is the more costly version, and then the budget conscious version that hopefully most individuals in the community could afford to some extent,” she said.

We tend to discount family memorabilia but what is common today can become extremely uncommon decades from now. Guerra said the reasons to preserve your cultural treasures are many and varied.

“In case they want to pass them on to their family members or they want to donate them to some sort of organization or a museum or an archives of some sort,” Guerra said.

The 11 a.m. Saturday workshop is free.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii