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NEW FEATURE! Artifcts QR code stickers can help you keep track of your ‘stuff’ and your memories! Learn more
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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GENEALOGY & FAMILY HISTORY
The RootsTech Experience, 2024

The RootsTech experience feels like stepping into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. It’s immersive and for those few days in time, everyone around you loves to “geek out” on documents, trees, photos, heirlooms, and more that make up family history and genealogy. No detail is too small, no dive down a rabbit hole too deep. 

As a company, attendees often asked us how the show was going for us, which is sweet. When we sat back to reflect on RootsTech 2024, we had a few key takeaways.

RootsTech 2024 Takeaways

QUIETER BUT RICHER

The venue was less packed this year, and the vendors fewer than pictured on the map going into the event, but the quality of conversations were equal to if not better than last year. It was a mini reunion with other companies and with participants, too! 

 

Artifcts and Matt Paxton being interviewed for the Inside Photo Organizing podcast.Our co-founder Heather and advisory board member Matt Paxton being interviewed for the Inside Photo Organizing podcast. 

PRODUCT SURPRISES FOR THE WIN

Holding off and launching a major new product and feature was well worth it. The excitement and wonder were marvelous as we showed people how we made it that much easier to get cozy in their garage, attic, den, or family member’s home to create Artifcts AND instantly add QR code stickers to link that digital memory and value to the physical item. Learn more!

WE ALL GOT A BIT EMOTIONAL

The show brought a lot of tears and hugs our way. The hugs were those of gratitude and relief. People felt heard and seen because they are the family keepers, the family historians, the stewards of so much and with that comes pressure to ensure it is all preserved and shared with the current and next generation. We make that wicked easy. The tears were almost always out of shared experience. When you KNOW the pain that it is to watch someone change as dementia progresses and be in a race against time to capture the essence of them, emotions run high. And, again, Artifcts is here to help. 

UNOFFICIAL BEST OF SHOW

We feel like we won “best of show.” The number of people who came back to tell us we were unmatched at the show made every bit of this arduous startup journey worth it. Another vendor nearby asked us, “Did you expect this much love?” after overhearing yet another person tell us we were the answer they were looking for. Maybe, maybe not? We didn’t build our product for genealogists, per se, but we’re gratified beyond measure that we’ve found a way to support their work and passion. 

 

Large group at dinner in a local pizzeriaTeam Artifcts and some of our wonderful partners enjoying a pizza dinner in Salt Lake City. 

PARTNER UP

Partners make all the difference. Artifcts shines in large part because of the relationships we’re building with other companies we believe play an important role in all things ‘stuff’ and who are authentic supporters of our work, too. We worked hard in advance of RootsTech to coordinate with other vendors who are Allies in ‘Stuff’ (click to check out ally discounts!) to locate nearer to each other so that we could then easily refer attendees to help in ways Artifcts cannot. Included among those, for example, were: 

Where Will You Find Team Artifcts Next?

We're planning to take all the love, good vibes, and feedback with us as we gear up for The Photo Managers conference in Columbus, Ohio, where we will be running a dedicated focus group on Artifcts and facilitating a small group discussion on privacy and security. One thing is for certain, we love interacting in real life with our Arti friends and professional members!

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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My Family Wants Me to Tell My Stories. Help!

Reading time: 3 minutes 

Feeling pressured to tell your life stories?

Has a loved one given you a questionnaire about your life that feels like another to-do?

Are you receiving tips on how to to “express yourself” or make your stories “entertaining," "thoughtful," or "compelling" and don’t really know where to begin?

(Are you the one creating the pressure?! Keep reading. Today's article is also for you!)

The Story Burden: What Is It?

Maybe you're not a great writer, maybe you don't want to commit the time, or maybe you don't think you have good stories to tell. But "they" are asking you to write your stories anyway and maybe even throwing money at it via well-intentioned gifts to encourage you. That is what we call the "story burden."

We know the pressure comes from a heartfelt place. Our friends and family may think we and our stories are worth preserving and sharing. And the storytelling industry wants to help us structure our stories to capture people’s attention in an increasingly distracted world.

At the same time, these story pressures can snowball and become a giant turnoff. The well-intentioned tips, classes, and frameworks may backfire and prevent us from making progress. And progress, not perfection, is what matters, just as much as what “they” want. Right?

Name Your Own Story Goal

You can't get there, if you don't know where you're going. What is your goal in recording your stories in one way or another? Perhaps your goal looks like one of these:

      • Private, diary-like reflections that maybe you'll share one day with a chosen few
      • Recording bits of your personal and family history to share your knowledge with your loved ones
      • Capturing moments and memories that made you and others smile before the details slip away. Could make up the pieces to a great memoir one day!

No matter your goal, consider the strategies we've gathered below to see if any will help you make progress without that burden stories can create.

 
Time-Tested Story Capture Strategies

STORY PROMPT BOOKS AND CHECKLISTS

Lacking inspiration, a jumping off point? Download a free checklist of interview questions. A great question source is the independent non-profit StoryCorps (check out the podcast, too) and it's free collection of life story questions aross 17 categories. Or you could purchase a story prompt book like this one to work through at your pace. These resources will avoid set schedules and fixed costs so you don't have to worry if you fall out of sync with their pace or wonder if you're getting good value for your money. It's a free or a one-time fee!

If you're motivated by, let's say, a treat now and then, you could even eat your way to stories. Our co-founder Ellen loves good old-fashion soft caramels and was shocked how game her family was to answer the questions wrapped around each of these caramels during the holidays. Talk about low pressure! 

SUBSCRIPTION STORY SERVICES

Need more motivation? Subscription services like Storyworth can send you regular prompts and by answering them in a timely fashion, by yearend, you’ll have enough fodder to complete and purchase your responses in a book format. For additional fees, you can even add color photos, additional pages, and special covers.

SUPPORT FROM A PRO!

Not happening without human intervention? Hire a life story pro to interview you and write your story. Whether a short 30-minute session to scratch the surface or a full life story multi-month endeavor, you can find an option to fit your goals and budget and remove the pressure from you to pull it all together. There are an abundance of companies that will do this and range greatly in price from $150/hour to a few thousand for a limited scope to $10k-15k and more for multi-month in-person biographies of the highest quality.

Bite-Sized Stories with Artifcts 

We heard a lot about the story burden as we began the research for what became Artifcts. We knew we had to do better and create something innovative that would avoid the story pressure while integrating the best of the tried and tested techniques of story telling AND sharing.

What's remarkable about every Artifct you create is the simple choice as to WHAT you Artifct already speaks volumes. The "story" becomes a bonus, a bonus that can be one simple word—e.g. Dad’s—or a 5,000+ word story.

Colorful floral pattern on dark background tea tin

At Artifcts, you can proceed at your own pace. You won't lose the value of the book you never completed if you don't finish by the end of the year. An Artifct a day, Tuesday evenings with Artifcts, weekend pick me up, seasonal themes, or work your way through one of our amazing checklists inspired by the Arti Community ... whatever works. for. you! No deadline, no quota to meet. 

What's remarkable about every Artifct you create is the simple choice as to WHAT you Artifct already speaks volumes.

We love that Artifcts are also easily shareable to someone who may be assisting you with family history research, writing a memoir, or creating a family videography, saving you countless hours searching for, sharing, and annotating the materials when you’re ready to take that next step. We have great Allies in ‘Stuff’ who can support you and have many more in our “rolodex” if memoirs and personal or family videographies and genealogies are on your mind. Reach out. We’re happy to help: Editor@Artifcts.com

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Timelines – Inspiration for Accidental Genealogists and Keepers of 'Stuff'

Reading time: 3 minutes

What happens when you come from a long line of genealogists and end up with three busy boys as the next generation? Genealogy and the desire to understand your heritage gets stalled…until you and your sons discover the Timeline view in Artifcts! 

Yes, I was one of the guilty parties. My mom has binders and binders of ancestry and genealogy information, can tell the stories about our family history ‘way back when,’ and has tried to tell us her story over the years. But if you were to ask me to tell you those stories about her, I’d look at you with a blank stare. I wouldn’t know where to start.  

That is until we discovered the Timeline view in Artifcts, and I saw my own life story revealed to me in a way I hadn’t seen before. You see, pun intended, I am a visual person and process information very analytically. Yes, it is interesting to see my family tree laid out with names and branches, but it doesn’t really tell me about the people, how they were wired, or how I might have been influenced by who they were or how they thought. When I understand those things about my ancestors and influencers, I gain perspective on my own heritage. 

Seeing my mother’s Timeline motivated me to create more Artifcts for my Timeline. As each new Artifct takes its place on my Timeline, it highlights one more life event, one more story, that shaped me. I could immediately see in my Timeline how my experiences, represented through my objects and stories, wired me to be who I am today. If my kids want to know who I am, why I place certain values on ambition and work, and why I work as much as I do to achieve and provide, all they need to do is look at my Artifcts Timeline.  

My Timeline now shows my world travel (creating an open and adventurous mindset); it shows my cadet days in the Civil Air Patrol (doing search, rescue, flying, and establishing the building blocks for my leadership style); it shows my days as a firefighter and EMT (helping people and being driven to serve); it shows my pilot experiences (adventure, focus, and determination); it shows my entrepreneurial experience (innovating and managing risk); and it shows my family and our shared experiences. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

So, to all of you who think you’ll get to it "someday," realize that someday may come too late. Start capturing your story one event or object at a time. When you open that box that’s been in the basement for 10 years and find something cool, Artifct it to tell the story using images, audio/video, and text. When you travel, take a photo of that menu or interesting memento and explain where you were and who you were with.

Once you get your Artifcts going and see them in your Timeline, you’ll have bursts of energy to go fill in the blanks, you’ll start seeing yourself for who you really are, and you’ll build out your story to carry your heritage to the next generation. And the best part? Your kids will love it too! 

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Traveling to Salt Lake City for RootsTech?

Stop by our Booth #1517 to hear Matt share more of his stories on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. MT and Saturday at 12 noon MT. 

You can also read previous ARTIcles Matt has written, including Father, World Traveler and Now Downsizer and Stuck In the Middle With Stuff

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Ways Genealogists are Using Artifcts That May Help You, Too

Reading time: 4 minutes 

No one knows how to use any product better than the power users among us. One of our power user groups at Artifcts is genealogists.

We've found genealogists as a whole to be tech savvy, detail oriented, creative, outside the box thinkers, and progressive leaning in the evolution of their methods. Curious what draws them to Artifcts and how they use it, surprising even the people who built Artifcts? Let’s go! 

10 Things Genealogists Have Taught Us About Artifcts 

If you are not a genealogist, you may think, “Don’t genealogists stick to family trees and research archives?” To some degree that was our expectation as we began building Artifcts. But the love of the details and the joy of bringing others in on their discoveries has meant Artifcts is solving a problem that genealogists couldn't quite put their collective fingers on until we came along. We suspect their tricks of the trade at Artifcts will help all of us non-genealogists in our quests, too! 

1. Tags are clearly limitless.

Folders are like corsets. Free yourself with tags! Create as many custom tags as you like on each of your Artifcts to later click on or search by (simply start your search term with #) by family member, location, document type and more.   

Fun fact: Genealogists were the first Arti Members we know of to add more than 10 tags to a single Artifct. 

2. The Artifcts timeline is a beautifully simple design and powerful resource.

Unlike traditional genealogy timelines, your Artifcts timeline is not weighed down by black and white details and restrictions on managing. With a click and drag you can reorder or choose to add more detail to your Artifcts. Creating a timeline for each family member? You can do that automatically by simply tagging each Artifct with the applicable family member and then sorting your timeline view by that tag, e.g. #DanielD or more specifically #DanielDb1938.  

BONUS! You can add public or private “time period notes” to your timeline to keep track of gaps you want to address or validate in your research and then Artifct. 

3. The stories and facts you need are available in fewer clicks

You can inter-link individual Artifcts you create using the familiar @ feature you likely know from social media, email, or even leaving comments in a Word document. Just build the people and Artifcts into your Artifcted "story” with by typing @ and making your selection. Once saved, you and others who can access the Artifct will be able to instantly segway to a related person or Artifct. No one you share your Artifct with will have to guess how all the dots connect. You will connect them as you create your Artifcts!  

Only because a genealogist asked did we ever try to write a “life story” in an Artifct. It’s easy to do when you have all your other Artifcts to help tell the story! Check it out in this ARTIcles story >

 
 
Here’s another sweet and silly example using the @ feature that we love from a summer vacation. Click the image to view the Artifct.

 

4. Brand/Artist is a perfect “free form” field.

A free form field, oh boy! Try using the Brand/Artist field to record Grandpa’s name and his link in the family tree for easy reference by anyone who you give access to view your Artifct. But remember, depending on where you build your family tree, you may need to grant them access there, too.

BONUS! Next time you fill in this field, you can select Grandpa again from the dropdown menu without having to retrieve the link. 

5. Location doesn’t have to be a physical place.

You can insert a link to the folder, share drive, or part of a family tree in whatever software you use to look for “more information” related to an Artifct if you need to dive deeper or reevaluate in the future. Remember, even if you privately share an Artifct with someone, no one else can see this field. If you are instead interested in including a video snippet in your private Artifct but want family you share it with to have access to the full hour long video, you could link to it from the Artifct "Description."

6. Artifcts sharing lists and circles bypass the usual pain of sharing.

Never again will you have to text, email, or airdrop a photo or audio or video snippet to a family member. With a free Artifcts account, anyone you specifically grant “view” access will have the option automatically to download any of the great photos, videos, and more you include in the Artifct in their original formats. No tiny, pixelated photos or videos (unless of course that's what you started with).

7. “Documentation” is for more than receipts and appraisals.

Documentation in each Artifct you create accommodates letter collections, chapters of family books, PDF scans of family recipe books, and more. It’s not just for receipts, appraisals, and the like. And thanks to feedback from genealogists, when you click and share an Artifct, you can choose if you’d like to also share the attached documents. By default, no documentation is ever shared.

8. Colors matter, so use them!

The introduction of options to change your font color and highlight your text in various shades as you write the description/story for an Artifct is also thanks to genealogists. Why? Because in the world of genealogy, colors have very specific meanings and help keep branches of the family tree straight. Others may use them for fun, but genealogists reminded us of the value of color. 

9. Ditto: Image captions matter.

While we introduced the option to add captions to photos thinking it would tie each more easily to the stories and people written about in the Artifct, genealogists instead started using them to reinforce information in the photos in a citation format. “Bravo,” we say.

Artifcted diploma by @tmacentee

 
 
We love the detail genealogist @tmacentee uses to record important events and accomplishments. Click the image to view the Artifct.

10. Stories can last for generations with Artifcts.

Start with the mundane black and white details, add in the family lore and research-in-progress as the fuel, and you can capture the interest of your most stubborn friends and family. Okay, maybe we knew this going into the creation of Artifcts, but if research-oriented genealogists are willing to adapt their tried-and-true methods to pick up Artifcting to ensure the STORIES of the heirlooms, trees, photos and more live on, then surely the rest of us mere mortals should do the same.  

It can be a bridge too far for many people to enter the world of sophisticated and complex genealogy software. Artifcts is a powerful tool, with a friendly, warm, and easy to use experience layered on top to welcome all. 

How do you use Artifcts? We’d love to hear all of your tips, hacks, and best practices. Please join us on Instagram or Facebook or write to use at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts Is Our Love Language

Reading time: 4 minutes 

In 1992, Baptist Minister Gary Chapman published the non-fiction book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. (Side note, if anyone out there has a copy, go Artifct That!) 

The book outlines five ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which he termed, “love languages.” In short, Chapman’s five love languages were words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.  

In our household, although acts of service and quality time are always encouraged, Artifcts has become our go-to love language. It transcends the generations, spans the distances, and lets us all know we are loved.  

Saying I Love You Artifcts Style 

My entire family knows I say I love you with Artifcts. There are freshly baked late-night chocolate chip cookies and banana breads when coming home from school, and of course, the recipes (and love notes) that follow via Artifcts. 

Gifts are given along with the Artifcts (and the explanations for why THIS gift) as are adventures. One of my favorite Artifcts surprises to date has been gifting our then 19-year-old a trip to Iceland, itinerary revealed and documented via Artifcts.  

I am lucky and thankful that the Artifcts go both ways in our household. My husband is especially sweet, Artifcting the moments, mementos, and memories (and cards!) that say, “I love you.” I was brought to tears when he Artifcted a piece of art he bought me AND included an audio recording of him explaining why he picked THAT piece and what it meant to him. Call me strictly sentimental, but I love having his voice safely paired with the Artifct. 

Saying I Love You Across Generations 

My mother-in-law and my husband have an especially meaningful love language in Artifcts. She’s been Artifcting since we launched and now has several hundred Artifcts and counting. She loves being able to share her stories and memories with her children and grandchildren, and my husband loves learning bits and pieces about his mom that he never knew before. (The grandchildren do too!) 

For instance, little did we know that @Grandmom counts an eight-foot python skin among her most prized possessions until she shared the Artifct with us! 

 

 
Who knew? We didn't until Grandmom Artifcted it!

My father has also recently gotten into the Artifcting mode, creating and privately sharing Artifcts with our family, documenting his life from 4H to retirement. I learned things about my father I never knew, and that is the greatest gift of all.  

As for us, and our generation? My husband and I Artifct FOR our children since we know they may not always remember the small moments and otherwise important details. My husband Artifcted the older kids’ swim trophies as we downsized, and I routinely Artifct special moments for my daughter, from learning to ride a bike to skiing her first black diamond. Sure, she’ll have the photos, thousands of them, but photos can’t talk and one day she’ll want to know the stories behind those photos.  

 

First time skiing a black diamond.Important firsts, remembered always. Made with love on Artifcts. 

Saying I Love You Across Distances 

One of the great things about Artifcts is that you don’t have to physically be there to send and share Artifcts. Part of my family lives in Denmark, and we capture and share the small moments, favorite recipes, and special memories via Artifcts.  

I love waking up to a new Artifct from my Danish family. We’ve even utilized Artifcts to subvert the insanely slow snail mail process. This year for my birthday, my Danish family Artifcted my birthday card, complete with photos, a funny story, and videos! It was the best and greenest birthday greeting yet.  

We also create Artifcts Circles when we travel together, or celebrate holidays together, sharing Artifcts, stories, and memories for all to see. It helps make the distances between seem not so large and gives us all something to look back on and cherish until our next time together.  

Creating A Sixth Love Language? 

We’ve come to think of Artifcts as our sixth love language, although I suppose it’s more of an amalgamation of several of Chapman’s original love languages. In our house, Artifcts always include positive words of affirmation. Creating the Artifcts requires quality time and is without a doubt a service to the next (and current!) generation, in addition to being one of the best gifts ever. 

We’re biased for sure, but we can’t think of a better way to say I love you than Artifcts!  

Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane, No Car Required 

Reading time: 3 minutes 

Did you know that over the past 2.5 years, our co-founders and guest editors have authored 218 ARTIcles by Artifcts? That’s a lot of writing AND a lot of information!  

With the genealogy conference RootsTech fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to resurface some of our most popular family history pieces to get us all thinking about how DO we preserve our family histories and tell our stories. We suspect that just like the Artifcts we each create, no two answers will be exactly the same.  

Winning By A Landslide 

First up, and winning by a landslide by number of views and clicks in recent weeks, is What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks. Scrapbooking is more than a hobby. It’s a time-consuming, big-hearted passion and nearly infinite outlet for creativity. These works of art visualize people’s stories. 

The thing is scrapbooks also take up space and collect dust. They feature people no longer in our lives. They can raise more questions than answers with the items they feature. And then, the physical reality – they fall apart. Read on for more on scrapbooking dilemmas and possible solutions. 

A fun and not-too distant second is Could You And Should You Part With a Family Photo, authored by guest editor and genealogist legend, Thomas MacEntee. In this piece, Thomas explores drastic methods used to ensure future access to precious family photos. You might just discover you have company in your own approach to old family photos! 

How To’s and Family Stories Near the Top 

It seems our members have also really enjoyed digging in and learning HOW to Artifct to preserve all their family stories, memories, and histories tied to the items they keep and pass down for the next generation. Our How to Artifct Family History and Heirlooms was our most popular “How-To” series, and our ARTIcles story titled, I’m The Family Keeper, What Do I Do With It All was wildly popular with folks looking for answers to the perpetual question of “What do I do with all my ‘stuff’!” 

Another fan favorite has been How Two Sisters Overcame the Guilt To Lighten The Load Of Family Heirlooms, authored by guest editor Rachel Donnelly, co-founder of PALS. Rachel shares her heartful and funny story of how she and her sister successfully navigated an 1890s family home chock full of family heirlooms.  

Just Because 

And in our “just because” category our co-founders Heather and Ellen decided to get in on the fun and share their favorite family history themed ARTIcles from the past two years. For Heather, it’s A Family History in Five Artifcts, where Artifcts Community member @Grandmom accepted the challenge of documenting her family story with five Artifcts. Amazing, and daunting when you think about it.  

As for Ellen, her favorite is Did You Know Great Grandpa Was an Inventor? When we don’t pause to ask the questions and listen to the answers, so many great tales—fish tales and those more ... verifiable—are lost to time. 

We hope you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did when we researched it! And, if you plan on being in Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2024, please stop by Booth #1517 to say hello to our co-founders and team. We love meeting our Artifcts members in real life! 

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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