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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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Every Room Has a Story: Living Room Edition

Reading time: 4 minutes 

Among our ARTIcles by Artifcts with enduring appeal, at least according to Google, is Show Me the Favorite Moment in Your Home. The premise was simple: Interior designers know that to be able to help their clients design and decorate their spaces, they need to understand what makes them tick. And invariably what we keep says a lot about what matters most to us. Now, if only 'stuff' could talk! 

We’re picking back up on the ‘favorite moment’ theme through a multi-series installment that will take us room-by-room—yes, including the closets and bathrooms—and challenge us to consider why we have the items we do, what they mean to us, why we keep them, and ultimately for some things, what we want others to know about them as well.  

Through this process, we hope you’ll take a fresh look at the items you are toting around with you in life that be elevated displayed anew (reclutter not declutter) if you love them and they’ve been hidden away or perhaps retired or rehomed (yes, that's the declutter part), and consider what’s next for your space so you enjoy being in it.

Stories & Your Living Room 

We’re starting this series in the living room. Arguably this is the most social space of your home, everyone transits through it. How do we make it us and make it welcoming?  

We are not going to talk feng sui specifically, but there is certainly something to be said for at least a cursory understanding of the concept and trying out any number of the amazing online guides available to help you. Feng sui is a concept of Chinese origin that literally means wind-water. In the context of our homes, it’s about how we arrange and fill our spaces to promote health, harmony, and balance.  

Let’s get right into the nitty-gritty of the stuff of your space, because, of course, we’re Artifcts.  


Bear with us, because just like our ARTIcles story about decluttering for dementia, here, too, we must start with a nod to lighting. Surely you’re not surprised to learn that we should not live like cave trolls. Studies show that “uplighting,” meaning lights pointing upward at the walls, can literally uplift moods. We’re no experts on “chi,” but if this appeals to you, look into it! 

From the perspective of letting you and your stories shine, lighting can also be an opportunity to introduce a splash of personality, creativity, and color via the fixture itself or shade. Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin brought a custom splash of nature and color into her space with a shade she found on Etsy. Great conversation piece that’s also Artifcted! 

Photo credit: Original image provided by seller on Etsy. Shop is now closed.


Think about decorative rocks, plants, and other natural objects in your space. Don’t have any? Consider adding them in.

Rocks, minerals, and gemstones you’ve picked up on hikes and other travel adventures are a win-win: Memories meet decoration. But Artifct them! You’ll be surprised how fast you forget which came from where. 

Thinking back to lessons of feng sui, plants offer an element of air purification and research shows that pausing to care for them can give you a breath when you need one to de-stress from your day. Plants also “warm up” a cool space to welcome people in. 

Not up for keeping plants alive? Preserved green walls have become very popular for this reason and are another great Etsy find by Ellen, who is equally great at killing plants but loves the effect they have in a room. 

And don't forget wood in your space works, too, like shelves made locally from sustainably harvested trees!

wood shelves loaded with books in rainbow order 


Excuse me?! Not clutter, but decor. Okay, if it is all decor in your mind, prove it. Sweep through your living room this weekend, yank everything off its perch, and then purposefully re-clutter. Is that a word? We’re still not sure, but we’re going with it. 

We love this approach, because it’s like you are moving. You have to rearrange in your mind what you have, why you have it, and where you want it to live in your home. What amount is “too much” is entirely up to you. You must dust it and make room for it after all. 

If you want your decor to spark conversation, remind you of great stories, or maybe keep your loved ones closer to mind, then your objects on display should reflect those priorities! 

      • Photographs you or a friend took, enlarged and framed. 
      • A memento or two from a trip. 
      • Books from favorite authors, maybe you even met them or know them. 
      • Boxes, vases, and other vessels that are heirlooms or perhaps simply great finds or investments that are functional and make you happy.

This tea tin we featured in curator's choice last year is pretty and sentimental, and paired with modern vase from MOMA. View the Artifct >
      • Toys. No, not those that belong to a child. Think instead of a jar of colorful confetti, dominos in a bowl, a spinning top perched on the coasters. Introduce fun in your space and signal to those who may be feeling blue, uncomfortable, or stressed that you hope they can relax here. This tip is picked up from the book, “Joyful,” by Ingrid Fetell Lee.

What stories and moments make up your living room? Send them in to us at or join the conversation on Instagram (@TheArtiLife) or Facebook (@Artifcts). We'd be delighted to hear from you!


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Let’s Get this (Graduation) Party Started

Graduation season is full of excitement and of the unknown. So much potential in those next steps. Before moving on, we’re diving into the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of graduation and how “kids” today are celebrating it, too. Take a moment to remember all your school day “firsts,” “lasts,” and “favorites.”


This is not just a descriptor for how we celebrate this milestone but the name of the more than century-old classic song played at graduation ceremonies. Sometimes also called “The Graduation March,” the song is actual one of five marches composed by Sir Edward Elgar, starting in 1901 and stretching out over a 30-year period.

If you’re eager for some modern music to boost your post-ceremony celebrations, we found an eclectic list of 24 tunes from Billboard that’s full of themes about growing up and making new memories. Here are the first five:

      • Vitamin C, “Graduation (Friends Forever)” is a smart starter to the list for the "Easter egg" buried in the chorus… do you hear Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” floating through? 
      • Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”, to which one of the founders of Artifcts commented, “This is from when I was in school. Is it actually still popular?!” 
      • Queen, “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Listen close, we hope this for all our grads. 
      • Lizzo, "About Damn Time,” because we all need a little reassurance. 
      • OneRepublic, “Good Life” shares an important theme about the power in letting go.


Otherwise known as mortarboards, as in the flat board used by masons and bricklayers, thus representing the skill of a master worker. Maybe! Or maybe it was inspired by the shape of quads on the campuses of Oxford University, where many graduation customs are believed to have originated. Either way, before you walk out that door with your cap on, remember to wear the tassel to the right as you enter and move it to the left once all graduates have received their diplomas.


Have you ever heard them referred to as sheepskins? No, not us either. But somewhere apparently this is true as every graduation “facts” site will report and harkens back to when diplomas were made from sheepskin. Let’s be glad paper and printing industries have come such a long way.


Women are now more likely than men to graduate from college. A modern phenomenon and trend that’s strengthening. In 2022, 39% of women aged 25 and older had completed a bachelor’s degree or more as their highest level of educational attainment compared to 36.2% of men in the same age range, according to the US Census Bureau.

The ‘why’ of this trend is complicated. In an October 2021 Pew Research Center survey of Americans without a degree, men were more likely to say they just did not want to get a four-year degree and that they did not need one for their career aspirations, which is unsurprising given the continued dominance of men in many high-paying trade skills, including electrical, plumping, and construction, among others.

“The fact remains, that if we want more women in the board room, we need more women completing degrees beyond high school. Brava!” said Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin.


In mere days, your amazing graduation photos and videos, mementos, garb and more will be relegated to the land of memories. You’ll struggle to dig them up and share them. The details will slip away. What did that teacher say? Who was in that awesome picture with you as you tossed your cap? What did the design on your cap look like?  

Collection of graduation photos and videos on an iPhone

What will you remember?!
Photo and video chaos from graudation. Save the memories, one Artifct at a time. The ceremony, the friends, the parties, the acheivements.

Here’s your checklist for graduation stuff, but don’t forget to check out Artifcts School Days inspiration checklist, too (available here)!

      • Certificate or diploma 
      • Graduation gown, cap, cords 
      • Announcement 
      • Awards 
      • Video and photos of the ceremony, with your parents and mentors, with your very best friends, of the post-ceremony party, etc. 
      • Capstone or thesis 
      • Portfolio items, prototypes 
      • Speech 
      • Press coverage, newspaper and online 
      • Book and people who inspired you 
      • Favorite study music and study places 
      • Pics of dorm room and off campus residences

Beyond School Days and Graduation, we have dozens of other FREE downloadable checklists waiting to inspire you!

We wish the graduates the very best in all their nexts and offer warm congratulations to the parents and mentors who helped them along their way.

xoxo, the Artifcts Team

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Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on the 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 


You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Going Green. With Artifcts. 2024 Edition

We’re back with the 2nd edition of our “Going Green. With Artifcts.” guide to celebrate Earth Day 2024. If you missed our 1st edition, download it here.

What makes our guide unique is its focus on items with potential sentimental value. What to do with those ‘things’ that have a story, memory, or special moment behind them but have outlived their useful life-span (to you!). We recommend you Artifct the items and their stories before you let them go. 

Partial view of the Going Green with Artifcts guide

Click the image to download your copy. And use the hyperlinks in the guide to learn more.

That means we do not usually cover plastic servingwear, leftover building supplies, unused paints and the like. It is true that you might struggle to part with a box of acrylic paints that belonged to your brother who was an artist. And yes, that could make for an amazing Artifct when paired with a story about him and photos of his artistic works. But we’ve tried to feature items we know have been Artifcted many times over and may also be in need of a green-friendly next life.

Surprise Inside Our Guide

We were delighted to include two companies whose founders we have met over the course of building Artifcts. One is Ephemera Search and is well-known in genealogy circles for the unique value it brings to family history research through postcards, telegrams, and letters. The other is the LooseEnds Project, a non-profit bringing the power of volunteers at a global scale to complete textiles projects our loved ones were unable to finish.  

This year’s guide also includes a nod to Artifcts®’ new partnership with Susan G. Komen®. During acute and chronic healthcare events alike, we tend to accumulate medical supplies that sometimes cost us a pretty penny even if we need them for only days, weeks, or months. Then what? We’ve found one resource specific to breast cancer to answer that question. 

We hope all the featured resources will help or inspire you as you keep the memories, not the stuff... and stay green friendly in the process!


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Swedish Death Cleaning Your Digital Legacy

Reading time: 7 minutes 

Swedish Death Cleaning provides a conceptual framework to encourage us each to organize and declutter our homes to reduce the burden on loved ones who would otherwise need to sift through 1000s of objects one day when we’re no longer here. We might be some of the biggest fans of Margareta Magnusson, who introduced the concept in her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, that she’s never met.💗 We all can understand and maybe even relate to the concept but having a term for it gives us a starting point to act on it! 

Artifcts is your best-in-class Swedish Death Cleaning app. It’s a big reason why we write on and provide workshops related to this topic. Today we’re considering Swedish Death Cleaning from yet another angle: Your digital legacy.

Defining “Digital Legacy” 

What ARE we talking about, “digital legacy?” 

Good question! Because, no, in this context, it is not about the entirety of your online life or digital assets, e.g. banking, mortgages, insurance policies, investments, or similar. All critical! All should be a part of your estate plan and/or will. You should also invest in an online digital vault to corral it together, benefit from automated and smart reminders, and enjoy the ease of sharing securely or accessing it yourself in an emergency.

Announcement for Digital Legacy Workshop from AfterLight

Take a deep dive! Our friends at AfterLight have a new workshop offering expert guidance on organizing and securing your digital estate. Register today.

What we are talking about with "digital legacy" are the digital items that reflect our lives and personal histories as well as who we are as members of families and communities. 

What makes up your digital legacy depends in part on your age as well as your personality and views. Some of us have chosen not to adopt certain aspects of digital life or have intentionally created the smallest digital footprint possible. Others of us go big online for personal and professional reasons. 

Below we’ll provide a framework to help you get started as you organize and maybe declutter your own digital legacy to ensure its best chance of meaning and survival!

What: Take Inventory 

Literally pause, grab a piece of paper or digital notebook, and start jotting down your digital footprint. Yes, you might need to wander your home, pull out some bins, open some drawers, but this is the easy part. We’ll help you get started. Do you or other household members have any of these? 

      • Digital music and/or movie libraries, including media that’s natively digital and any you might have digitized when you, oh, let’s say, “decluttered” that VHS, DVD, or CD collection. 
      • Photographs, again, digital native photos from your phone, most likely, and those pics you have scanned or otherwise digitized over time. 
      • Social media posts, and before those, your blogs 
      • Academic and professional research, including publications, patents, and even genealogy, family history, and DNA information.  
      • NFTs and other digital works stored, for example, in your digital wallet(s).

Where: As Tech has Changed, Storage has Changed 

Before cell phones were our go-to video recorders, there were small handheld versions that were wow’ing, because they had great quality and storage for the time, and were many times smaller than those you held with a strap in one hand or the ones that were so big that they sat on your shoulder. Did you ever download all the videos on your digital handheld camera? Treasures untold may be waiting. 

Think creatively through all the digital tech you’ve used and held onto through the years when you consider where your files may be resting, and in some cases, actively degrading. 

Bulk stashes via old and new hardware.

As time has gone on, we’ve been able to more cheaply and conveniently store massive volumes of data on those things and yet you might be surprised how little you actually saved to some. One of our Arti Community members told us she has 15 thumb drives that each contain three songs her daughter recorded during her spring and fall piano recitals.

Dig out those thumb drives, memory cards that may still be in old cameras or spare cases, disks (floppy, hard, and otherwise), and flash drives. Environmental implications aside, harvesting and storing those digital files together, and backed up in a second location, is a relatively easy, cheap, and fast undertaking. Hurray! 

Desktop and laptop hard drives. 

Hopefully before you donated or recycled old computers, you saved the contents somewhere else, a flash drive, your preferred cloud environment, or your new computer, perhaps. Wherever it went, take stock. And watch out if your employer is okay with you using your work device for personal use, too, as you may have some gems on those devices. 

“The Cloud,” e.g. Google Drive, Box, Drop Box, and Permanent, among others. 

You may have gotten on a kick and started storing stuff within a particular environment because a friend or family member was sharing stuff with you there and you followed suit. But what are you using nowadays? Consider if your habits have changed and you need to rescue files from various cloud locations and move to one central archive for storage. 

Memberships, especially apps and websites you love or loved once upon a time.

If you are worried you might not remember them all, you have some options.  

Option A. Checking billing statements is the best starting point. We hope you’re not paying for something you haven’t used in years. While simpler than scrolling through your email for pages, this still gets messy if you are using many different payment methods (credit cards, PayPal, etc.) and/or other household members might be paying via a family account. So, option B ...  

Option B. Go to the apps lists on your phone, tv, and computer. What’s installed? Are you paying for it? While you’re in there, check which have location, contact, notification, and background refresh services turned on. You might want to lock down your privacy! Bonus Tip: For Apple (iOS) mobile users, you can go to your Settings -> Click on your name/circle at the top -> and click “Subscriptions.” You may find surprises there, too! 

Take a moment to consider first what content do (or did) you create or upload to these memberships that you own and can potentially download to back up elsewhere and/or to then close your account. Then, if you want to keep the account open and have backed up the content, check the account’s settings for legacy contact and/or memorialization options and set yours up so you do not lose anything you created or upload to that membership. You also will then hoepfully avoid falling into a scenario in which inactivity grants the company via its terms and conditions the right to delete your data or use your data in a way you do not support.

Best Practice call out box

Now What: What Do You Value Most? What Do “They” Value Most? 

Life comes with inherent limits. Only so much time in a day, money in our accounts, bandwidth in our brains. We must choose carefully how we spend our resources. What matters to you will help you prioritize how you manage your digital legacy. 

Here are three steps you can take to manage your digital legacy. These are not mutually exclusive! Start at ‘good,’ add in ‘better,’ and laugh, enjoy, and gain peace of mind with ‘best.’

Good. Inventory the items and put physical storage devices, e.g. flash drives, in a fire-safe place. Get rid of what you don’t want. This might mean recycling some tech (options exist!) and cleaning out files. But before you get too aggressive with that decluttering, ASK loved ones if they are interested in the types of materials you are ready to shed. You may be surprised what matters to them versus to yourself! This will help you with the next option.

Better. Digitize items with backups and share access to those resources with loved ones. This is now moving into prime Swedish Death Cleaning territory where we have not just organized but we’ve also decluttered in a way that’s potentially meaningful. Loved ones get the option to raise their hand and say, “Yes, that I want.” And the beauty here is it is digital. It won’t take up physical space so it’s less risky for them to say yes.

Best. While we all love photos, videos, and documentary evidence of cool things, like being the mastermind behind a patent, without context, even digital items become clutter we ignore. Here’s the story of one family’s “great” discovery. Whether your format is Artifcts, scrapbooks, or photobooks, find a medium to gift your loved ones a ‘why’ and not just more digital stuff. What is the story behind this photo? In layman's speak, what was this amazing scientific breakthrough in this patent that bears your name? What did it mean to you

Let us know about your progress. What was the easy part? Are you stuck on any specific digital histories of yours? What was the outcome? 


More from Artifcts on Swedish Death Cleaning: 

The Joys of Swedish Death Cleaning 

Swedish Death Cleaning a Marriage After Death or Divorce 

How Swedish Death Cleaning Helps During a Move

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What Should You Do With Old Photo Albums?

Reading time: 5 minutes 

Dusty albums. Bulky albums. What do we do with you? We want to lighten our loads and declutter without guilt. 

Who among us compiles physical photo albums anymore? "Back in the day” a store like Target would have had a huge photo department. You could purchase and process film and buy photo frames and albums, along with supplemental inserts in a dizzying array of designs and sizes. 

No, not so anymore.

As we’ve shifted to digital photos, we’ve likewise replaced physical albums with digital-friendly options, including build-your-own photo books, shared digital albums on social media and cloud storage sites, and digital photo frames, like the beautiful frames from Aura. Physical photo albums today are usually reserved for major milestone events, like weddings, trips, and anniversaries, when we feel it’s worthwhile to sit down and thoughtfully curate those experiences.  

Those of us with photo albums tucked in our closets and bookshelves, those that we have created and inherited, not to mention the albums our parents and grandparents own and we’ll inherit one day, need solutions. What do we do with all the existing albums, so they avoid landing in a craft shop or, worse, a dumpster when the details about the people and stories within are lost to time? 

Photo Albums Have Problematic Similarities to Scrapbooks 

Like scrapbooks, photo albums are designed to be shared, in person, and talked through, reminiscing about and reliving with the telling the places you’ve been, the experiences you have had, and more. Unfortunately, also like scrapbooks, photo albums present long-term challenges: 

      1. Do you know the stories behind the photos? (We have tips for that!) Will you remember them? Scrapbooks tend to at least provide more leeway to add notes and stories than photo albums. Stories behind the photos are incredibly vulnerable to being forgotten. We can animate photos in creepy ways, but they cannot remember for us the stories lost. Look back through your albums. Do you recall all the people and events in a way that’s meaningful anymore? 
      2. Albums, the pages within, and the photos will deteriorate. Little known fact outside the photo industry: Those photo prints you ordered in single and even triplicate were never meant to last more than a dozen years, and that's for the highest quality pritns! That’s why the colors change as the chemicals used to create the images degrade and the paper eventually becomes more fragile, too. 
      3. Your album is singular and unique, unless you have access to the negatives. But even then, those are decaying with every passing day as well, so ... 
      4. Albums can be bulky. Do you have room to continue to store them? What about those you may inherit? They are substantial in size and often uncooperative with short shelves and shallow storage. In the words of one Arti Community member, "I’m in my 40s and my albums are still at my parents’ house. I didn't feel the need to take them with me, but, yes, someday I’ll hold onto them. I don’t want to throw them away."

How Can You Preserve Photo Albums?  

And maybe even let some photo albums go ... 

Share the love. At the risk of making a lot of people very angry, we have to say it: You are not beholden to anyone to hold onto your own albums or anyone else's albums. Ask! Do YOU want them? 

Don’t fall for the guilt trip you are getting or think you’ll get. Ideally, you should consider yourself a steward of the history within those albums and as such, ask family members if they want the albums before you take them apart or get rid of them. It’s the kind thing to do. But beyond that, ...

... Digitization has never been easier or more affordable. We have shared tips about digitization in general. You can buy machines to do it yourself, but there’s a catch. We turned to Cathi Nelson, founder and CEO of The Photo Managers, to explain: 

"Many people created scrapbook photo albums during the decades of scrapbooking and those albums are often 12x12, which is too big for traditional flatbed scanners. You can outsource this project to a professional photo manager whose scans allow them to capture the entire page and individual photos.  

If that is not in your budget, and you have a flatbed scanner, such as the Epson v600, scan each page and use photo stitching software to magically merge the pages.  

Another option is to carefullly remove the photos and scan them (front and back). If they are stuck to the pages, you can use a butter knife or dental floss to gently remove the photos."

We want to also celebrate the amazing ease with which apps from modern photo companies like Photomyne and VividPix —with scanners at local museums, libraries, and historical societies that can scan whole album pages up to 11.8" x 17″—can slice up each photo on the page into its own file photo or image file. No need to take the pages apart or tediously scan them one by one. This is great for do-it-yourselfers!

Digitization Wisdom

Before you and as you digitize, keep three things in mind:  

  • Photo layouts may be a part of the story. Some albums may be chronological or thematic. Others are designed for people to arrange photos in a way that may inherently help them to share stories, too. Take this example:

yellowed photo album page with baby photos

Had I scanned each photo and then disassembled the photo album, I would have disconnected these photos from the story of that day as captured in the Artifct, zapping their collective ability to convey a piece of my childhood. Instead, I could photograph or video the album before dismantling, if that’s what I decide to do with the album.

  • Capture ALL the details. You scanned the fronts to get the job done quickly, but did you even look at the backs? Now that you have, how will you preserve the additional details on the back with the photo? In a good-better-best plan, this could be: 
      • Create an index as you go for your photos with the file name and other details you care about (location, people, event, ...) or edit the photo metadata (e.g. date, location, and other information stored with the image file) with the additional information; 
      • Transform the album into a photo book and add the information in the image captions;  
      • Artifct the photos and include what you know about them. Check out our interrogation techniques for photos.
  • Share the stories behind the photos. CONNECT with your loved ones. Don’t be annoying and share 100s of photos from a single trip. Tell them the “best of” or most meaningful moments. Artifct the best ones! Artifcts are easy to share, helping you get the story out there so it can live on. You might also share the Artifct with a friend who is going on a trip to the same place you went and want your tips! You can also easily share an Artifct to a friend’s or family member’s digital photo frame. Ask them how.  

If you are taking the time to create photo albums, maybe take time to create an additional Artifct or two to go with each album, even if the Artifct is of the album itself, and is your story of why you created it, what it means to you, etc. Bonus, you can include audio and video and bring your photo album to life for the next generation.


Other ARTIcles by Artifcts you may enjoy: 

Photos + Stories Go Better Together: A Conversation with Cathi Nelson, CEO of The Photo Managers

Storytellers, Beware!

Rescue Mission: That’s More Than a Photo

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