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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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GENEALOGY & FAMILY HISTORY
RootsTech Reflections

High fives, tears, and hugs, that about sums up our experience at RootsTech 2023.

We were humbled by the many expressions of gratitude we received for creating Artifcts. For some the gratitude came from a place of feeling overwhelmed by stuff, including the everyday items we collect to the family heirlooms we keep. For others it was the pressure of being that family keeper and desperately wanting to share the family history and legacy with future generations, but worrying, “Are they listening? Can I get them to understand before it’s too late?"

Our magic with attendees was clear as we demonstrated how simple it is to create and share Artifcts. And how by combining photos and video, or even audio, you can bring stories and memories from today and long ago alive.  

The magic was also clear as people returned to us with spouses, sisters, and other attendees in tow. We all come to Artifcts from different starting points. Some are minimalists, others collectors. Some are artists, others living through a major life event and tackling downsizing. We know for some the smaller scale of this year’s RootsTech was a bit sad, but for us at Artifcts it meant deep conversations no matter your starting point that we’ll carry with us and have influenced how we see Artifcts and its bright future. 

In case you missed it, check out our how-to Artifct series on ARTIcles by Artifcts!

Whether you attend RootsTech virtually, in-person, or not at all, but find yourself becoming the family keeper, family historian, or some other version thereof, we hope this is only the beginning of our time together experiencing the power of Artifcts for capturing yoru personal, family, and community histories, stories, and legacy. 

As for next year? We will be there! We’ll set up computers to help attendees register on the spot and customize their Artifcts experience, even create their first Artifcts, empowering all attendees to walk away with a bit of their own personal or family history preserved for generations to come.  
text Happy Artifcting!

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Family history and legacy on your mind? You might enjoy these related ARTIcles by Artifcts: 

Remembering Your Roots

Gift Your Loved Ones a Why

What Have You Done for Your Legacy Lately?

Show Me the Favorite Moment in Your House

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Your Future Family Heirlooms

What is a family heirloom other than some object that someone decided was important in some way and decided to keep it and pass it along to another family member. That’s it. For what it’s worth, Webster’s dictionary agrees with us – it all turns on the word “special.” 

: something of special value handed down from one generation to another

No one ever said family heirlooms carry with them big dollar signs.  

A family member might have promised an heirloom would carry with it some history. But then again, even if so, how will you gain access to that history? Usually it’s a conversation, a sticky note, a journal that’s also hopefully passed along. We can do better. We need to do better. 

Artifcts and Heirlooms Go Hand-in-Hand 

Each Artifct you create carries the potential of heirloom status. How? Many ways, including: 

By creating awareness that this object even exists, or that it has some interesting origin or story, you increase the probability someone will care about it and claim it as their own. It’s no longer just ‘stuff.’  

One Artifct giving way to another. One of the earliest examples of this that we saw here at Artifcts was @Grandmom’s rolls recipe from the early 1900s that was reborn and brought out for everyday enjoyment when engraved in her mother’s handwriting on a cutting board.  

An Artifct is itself a unique digital asset, a digital heirloom. Someday, your loved ones can inherit your Artifcts collection and the stories, memories, and more captured in each Artifct will live on. 

What family heirlooms are you the keeper of? Artifct them today to ensure those heirlooms and their stories make it to the next generation. 

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Heirlooms on your mind? You might enjoy these related ARTIcles by Artifcts: 

Gift Your Loved Ones a Why

Estate Planning of Things

Because Who Wants 300 Miniature Pianos

Grandma’s Secret, Not-So-Secret, Coin Collection

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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A Family Story Shared for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

For many of us the history of the Holocaust is just that, history. If you have visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum you may have a somewhat deeper appreciation for its continuing resonance in our lives. If you have also traveled to those regions where the concentration and labor camps existed, you may have a still greater understanding as well as that overwhelming desire to see these lessons learned live on through us and unite us against these evils. 

Gates of Auschwitz with the words ARBEIT MACHT FREI

What we worry about at Artifcts is that as those of the generation who survived the horrors of the Holocaust dwindle in number, will enough of us take up the imperative to preserve those stories that exist within our own family histories? Today, on the International Remembrance Day, Arti Community member @Dr_Dani_Q shares her own family's stories of surviving the Holocaust in hopes of encouraging other families to look back in their family and community histories to ask the questions, document the answers, and share with others so it will not be lost. It will become a part of our living history.

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My Grandfather’s Story: A Marriage of Survival, Pride, and Service

It was evening. My great grandmother approached and drew closed the curtains at the window where my then 12-year-old grandfather sat, sparing him from the sight of the SS soldiers lining up and summarily executing his Jewish neighbors who had lived across the street.

This was Kaunus, Lithuania. The year was 1942. SS soldiers occupied homes across Lithuania, including the farmhouse where my grandfather lived. Having already suffered months of servitude to the SS soldiers they were forced to house, my great uncle secured secret passage for his brother’s family that same night as their neighbors were executed via the railroad he worked on. They traveled through Europe and eventually onward to safety in Brooklyn, New York, in 1949.  The uncle stayed behind, working in secret to secure passage for all who he could.

Black and white photo of an ocean passenger ship

 
The ship my grandfather and his family took to the United States.

Many do not realize that millions of non-Jews, even those blonde-haired blue-eyed Lithuanians like my grandfather, were forced to serve in non-disclosed labor camps and executed by the Nazis during WWII. Unlike some who survived, as you will read about next, my grandfather spent his life telling his personal story from his youth during WWII in eastern Europe, lest we forget. He also traveled back to Lithuania, always returning to us with presents like amber and carved eggs, urging us to remember and embrace our cultural heritage. And he served for freedom and democracy, working as a translator in 10 languages for the US Army. 

Amber Necklaces

Homemade necklace of amber from Lithuania

 

My Grandmother’s Story: Twin Pillars of Survival and Trauma

My grandfather met my grandmother in New York in 1957 at a Belarusian cultural center. You know the type, even if only from movies: native food, dances, and all other aspects of community. The community center was the only place my grandmother would be among her own for the rest of her life. 

Unlike my grandfather, my grandmother's experience in 1943 as an 11-year-old Russian Orthodox Catholic child in a Nazi labor camp turned her away from her Belarusian homeland and the whole of Eastern Europe forever.

 

scanned photo of a ship passenger manifest from May 1951Scanned copy of a ship passenger manifest validating when my grandmother,
 
 
parents, and siblings arrived in NYC, NY, in May 1951... under Polish papers!

I have always been interested in my family history and genealogy. But it wasn’t until a year ago that I asked my uncle to tell me more about my grandmother’s experiences during WWII. All I knew was that as a child she was in a labor camp in Nazi-occupied Europe, and that one day, while bending down to pick up a piece of laundry she dropped while folding in the officers’ barracks, bullets were sprayed across the building by American troops who arrived to liberate the camp. The fallen laundry saved her life. “You still believe that story,” exclaimed my shocked and disbelieving uncle. 

He then told the me, the 32-year-old adult me, at last, the true story. 

My grandmother was lined up in an execution ditch. She watched as the SS officers executed one person after another. She was number 10. They were on number seven when American troops stormed into the camp, saving her (and her entire family).

Let me tell you, my grandmother, she was 5 feet tall and really fierce. The eldest of four siblings, survivor of a Nazi labor camp, ... you can understand why! I just wish I had known her story when she was alive, because knowing it made me understand and respect her that much more. I would have understood better the generational trauma I witnessed through her decisions and behaviors. I would have understood why she was so tough and closed-off, refusing to speak of her past. And why she chose to assimilate to her new life in the United States to such a degree that she never spoke her native languages again; never visited her homeland again. I just wish I had known. 

 

Our Story 

Today my family honors and preserves our heritage through food, certainly—cold borscht, balandelai, and koldunai/kolduny!—as well as travel, sharing of the trinkets my grandfather first bought for us with our own children, and of course by sharing our stories. 

You’ll see if you read the Artifcts I have shared that Artifcts has become our outlet to secure this history. I get to keep so many things that I wish I had from my mom and grandparents. It relieves a weird amount of stress from the “What if” category, and what I would leave behind in the terrible event that something happens to me. That’s why I am sharing my family’s story today. To urge you all, how ever, where ever you feel comfortable – capture your history so it can live on.

- Dr. Dani Q

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Meet Lynn, Owner of Oseyo

Oseyo? Oseyo: A modern Korean restaurant tucked in near downtown Austin, Texas. What attracted us at Artifcts to owner and restauranteur Lynn Miller's story about Oseyo was the roots, plural. 

Lynn attributes Oseyo’s traditional Korean food—rich in vitamins and minerals that are only enhanced by quintessential preparations such as fermentation—to her father's ability to defy the odds and survive his terminal cancer diagnosis for nearly two years beyond doctors’ original expectations. This experience contributed to Lynn later advancing her learning in food as a healing art and gaining experience in cooking for special dietary needs at the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. 

Then, there's the reality that had Lynn’s tween-aged daughters not stubbornly urged her to reconsider an opportunity to purchase the restaurant space in central Austin, Oseyo would have been nothing more than a dream! When and why do we put our dreams on the shelves? How amazing is it to raise children who would be so bold and loving to see this dream in their mother and urge her toward it? 

a weaving loom on sticks with green, blue, yellow, and white yarns

Grace's Loom. View the Artifct.

And finally, you guessed it, the artifacts. The original recipes of Oseyo were derived from Lynn's mother's family recipes. You could argue the recipes are not your version of "traditional Korean," because what does “traditional” necessarily even mean? Does your mother cook the same marinara sauce as your neighbor? We didn’t think so. But family recipes are beautiful artifacts (and now Artifcts, too!). Oseyo is also elegantly and cozily decorated with family heirlooms, modern, dramatic art created by Lynn's husband, and upcycled and vintage finds.

Click any image below to view the Artifct.

Beige six-panel screen with images of battle of Japan

Wall-sized painting of red hues on canvas

Whiskey colored leather Wissily Chair with chrome metal frame

We hope to return again and again for bites, but also to learn about new artifacts, including new recipes from Oseyo's executive chef Mike Diaz whose Mexican heritage plays so excitingly and surprisingly with the original Korean recipes at the very heart of Oseyo.

Front entrance and sign for Oseyo

Take a peek inside Oseyo and remember to support your local entrepreneurs! View the Artifct.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And, if you see Lynn, say hello from Artifcts!
 
 
 
Lynn Miller in the kitchen at Oseyo

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Chasing Histories Can Be Exhausting and So Worthwhile

Today we are inviting you to delve into the world of Artifcts with us through what we fondly refer to as “chasing histories.” What we mean is chasing the details about objects that pass through our lives. Why would we do this?  Because we suspect they should have meaning and value if someone has chosen to hold onto them and yet no one you talk with seems clear on the details. The keepers of these objects have lost the thread of the histories behind them.  

And these lost histories leave us, the keepers, to wonder – do we even keep the thing? Why not sell, donate, or rehome it instead? One may think, “It has to go, because I have a small home, it’s ugly, it smells funny, it’s something I don’t want, …” unless maybe you give me a good reason! 

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In a period of history when story is king, we still somehow find we have a lot of stuff and relatively little meaning to go with it. We’re stuck chasing histories to bring back heritage and bring forward memories.  

As you might imagine, the Arti Community has done a lot of history chasing since Artifcts was launched last year, so we thought we would introduce the idea of chasing histories with a few of our own. We hope to inspire you along the way to Artifct those histories now—the ones you know, the ones you are creating daily—to avoid the potential pain, uncertainty, and loss later. And we certainly hope that you have fun doing it.  

The gold watch was in a bin of pegs. 

This was my mother's watch. I found it cleaning out one of the spare bedrooms. It was buried in a box with the old wooden pegs we used to have/use to hang plant baskets. We can't remember her ever wearing the watch. Read more >

Vintage gold Cyma watch with sapphire dial     Mixed collection of family silver

Click either image above to view the related Artifct.

But where did this silver come from?

A well worn jumble, seldom polished nowadays. And, I love it. Just think of all the family members whose hands have touched these through the years. Read on >

This brooch is so special.

So special that we know almost nothing about other than the aunts each wore it on their wedding days. Where did my grandmother get this brooch from? And when and why was it made? I tried all my aunts. I tried reaching out to my grandmother's sister through a cousin, but no luck yet. Read on >

Antique gold brooch with small inset pearls     Old bible in German with damaged cover

Click either image above to view the related Artifct.

Why, yes, my bible is shedding. 

My siblings and I have a lot of questions but few answers with these Bibles. We weren’t overly religious growing up, so imagine our surprise finding them on a bookshelf in the garage, nearly adjacent to a set of golf clubs and a snowblower. And one is in German. If only we knew. Read more >

Go get your histories! And happy Artifcting.

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 Maybe you see a bit of yourself and your family in these stories?

We'd love to hear from you at Editor@Artifcts.com. We may feature your experience in a future story here on ARTIcles.

© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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She's the Last of Her Generation

I had to go say hello. I've never known her! 

My Great Aunt Muriel is 97 years old and has spent roughly 75 years of her life in Tucson, AZ. For the record (and in my defense), I grew up in Wisconsin. We weren't exactly neighbors. 

This visit to Great Aunt Muriel was born out of curiosity, frustration, and fear. 

To me, she's somewhat of a legend. I've heard my parents talk in awe of her in recent years, remarking on her independence and mental sharpness. Others told me she is feisty and opinionated. I was curious. I also kept thinking, "You do know that I think I missed my calling as a lawyer, right?" I bet she and I will get along just fine! 

My frustration was about how difficult it is to gather and preserve family history without it being your primary occupation or hobby. Chasing histories, I call it. And I'm not talking about black and white details that sit in databases behind paywalls of newspapers and genealogy sites. I'm talking about the stories that connect those details - the lives lived, the legends created, the humanity of it all. Within my own family I heard drips and drops about distant relatives going off in the gold rush, for example. Who were they? When did they go? What became of them? Any details at all or am I really just stuck with family lore?  

And, of course, fear - Aunt Muriel's now an only. She's the last of her generation. My cousin put it into interesting perspective, "Just think, she's the last who knew our parents as infants!" Time is absolutely our enemy if I want to know her and to know pieces of the family's past. If I wanted her insights and advice, her laugh-out-loud replays of historical moments, the only time was now. 

If you stop reading here and venture like Alice down the rabbit hole of Artifcts we created together and are featured below, let me tell you what you'll discover from these Artifcts: This woman was radically more than advertised. I hope you have a Great Aunt Muriel in your life. Go. See. Her. Today! And listen, a lot. 

 
 
 

Click any image below to view the related Artifct.Muriel Wilson with her parents at the RV in Tucson, Arizona

Paper register and tickets for fuel rations1st Prize Old Tucson Square Dance copper medal

 

When I arrived in Tucson, Great Aunt Muriel was prepared. She had photos and mementos, stories and family lore, all ready to share. And with her permission, I'm sharing a few of those Artifcts we created together with you. Of the many worries Great Aunt Muriel had for the future, lost connection and family bonding was clearly chief among them. Let these Artifcts inspire your own conversations with loved ones. 

You could say this was time well spent. Well spent visiting. Well spent Artifcting. 

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© 2022 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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