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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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What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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 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.

Scrapbooking Dilemmas

They decay. The glue and tape decay and quite often that very same glue and tape damages permanently whatever it was holding in place. And then these damaged items slip out of place, and you may never again be very sure what went where, particularly if it’s not your scrapbook to begin with.

They are singular, unique. That means whether moving boxes get lost, your home has a fire or flood, or you simply lose track of them, they are easy to lose and irreplaceable. You can’t exactly go online and order another copy! (By the way, that can hold true for photobooks you create, too! Co-founder Ellen Goodwin was frustrated to discover she couldn’t reorder hers from a particular popular online photobook site because the specific formats are no longer supported. So sad.)

They are singular, unique. (Yes, we repeated that on purpose!) You can’t share a scrapbook. One person is the keeper. Who’s it going to be? You could offer visitation rights, we suppose. Or take turns? Just keep in mind that it is not the ownership of the physical scrapbook that matters but the connection it offers to the memories captured within.

They tend to be highly visual, with little story. Scrapbooks are often designed to have the stories told/shared by the person who created it as you page through it together. At best you typically get a description of only a line or two. The rest is just a visual walk through some aspect of a person’s life. So then if you inherit a scrapbook, so much history is truly lost. You are left to guess.

They are usually 2D. You don’t have audio or video options, unless you include a thumb drive, or similar, to support it.

How Can You Preserve Scrapbooks?

We went to four sources for advice on what to do with scrapbooks that are falling apart and/or have run their useful purpose: A parent of young children, a 70-year-old woman who is downsizing, a professional archivist, and the National Archives. We hope their tips will help you. 

I can’t help you! I gave up on scrapbooks after my first kid. It’s just too much guilt.

I keep some mementos in a fire-safe box for each kid, and the rest is in digital photo storage and the occasional photobook for holidays.

And, in full disclosure, I know one of the founders of Artifcts, so I adopted it early on. Artifcts is my go-to source for almost everything now, even the stuff that goes into the memento box I Artifct first. It’s too easy to forget what is what and which of my kids even made it. I write in pencil on the back of some things, but not everything. Artifcts is more reliable and fun, and they can take the Artifcts I create for them to college without embarrassment.


“Scrapbooks were more time consuming than figuring out what to do with the entirety of my sewing room!” she told us. Here’s the downsizer’s version of events:

First, I had to find them. I knew I had two somewhere.

Then, I asked my two kids if either of them wanted the scrapbooks. That was like opening Pandora’s Box! I had never actually talked them through the scrapbooks, and they wanted to know more about what was in each. I had the mini-golf tally card from our first date. I even had music albums glued in. I couldn't tackle that time commitment right then because my kids do not even live near me.

I took the albums to a local camera store that has a special scanner and they digitized each page and gave it to me as a collection of photos on a thumb drive and they sent me a second version I could download from the cloud.

I decided to keep the scrapbooks for now. I want to record more of the stories that are in the pictures. I will give them to my eldest daughter when I’m done because she’s more curious about the family history and her daughter liked to page through them when I briefly kept them on my coffee table. Tell people: Do NOT keep them on the coffee table. It was a mistake. They are a mess!



Monocurate’s motto is “archives for all” and that’s how they work one-on-one with their clients. Professionals can help stabilize your scrapbooks so you can keep them for longer to share with the next generation. Guidelines from an archivist:

    1. Digitize them as-is.
    2. Carefully remove important items. Don't force it! Did you know … Sometimes people would repurpose books, like old phone books, to scrapbook. Upcycling is great, but may make for a bit more fragile scrapbook!
    3. Interleave the scrapbook pages with acid-free paper or tissue.
    4. Most importantly, stop scrapbooking.

It pains archivists to know the future of items consigned to scrapbooks and what the glues, metals, tapes and more will do to their contents.


The position of the Archives is clearest in this statement: “[Scrapbooks are] unique gatherings of material that are best preserved as a unit.” Much like archivists who work with individuals and families, the US National Archives suggests:

    • Store scrapbooks in cool, dry, dark places.
    • House them flat and in archival quality boxes.

Archival Methods logo

Check out Archival Methods in our Allies in 'Stuff' for a discount code to box your scrapbook!  
    • If you "must" handle them, be careful! Put back anything that falls out, keep your hands clean, and obviously keep food and water away.
    • Do not attempt to repair scrapbooks you wish to pass on to future generations. Seek professional help or you risk further damaging what remains.
    • Avoid stressing the binding and contents by using copy machines. Use a hand-held camera or a face-up copier or scanner. Or, again, seek out a professional for digitization services.


While you will not hear Artifcts say, “Stop scrapbooking!” we do strongly encourage you to think about why you scrapbook, what you hope to do with the product of your work one day, and how you can ensure that the stories woven into the contents are not lost.

We don't want your scrapbook and its memories in a trashcan someday, a casualty of too much stuff, too little space, too little interest in figuring out the stories and secrets it holds!

If you are taking the time to create the scrapbook, maybe take time to create an additional Artifct or two to go with the scrapbook, even if the Artifct is of the scrapbook 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 scrapbook to life for the next generation.  


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Free Genealogy Resources and Other Tips from a Pro

Thomas MacEntee knows his (genealogy) stuff. He’s spent decades on his own family research and long before that was steeped in the tech industry. Having tech skills, natural curiosity, and boundless energy are hallmarks of a great genealogist, and he possesses these traits and then some. We can add perseverance to that mix, too. 

During a recent Evenings with Artifcts, our audience had questions for Thomas that we do not want you to miss. Here are just a few: 

Q: How can I stay apprised of sales for memberships and DNA test kits, genealogy events near me, and even changes to the privacy terms of sites I use? 

A: Approve the sender email addresses for sites you work with to ensure emails from them do not go to spam. And set Google Alerts! It’s easy to do and to change or delete when you no longer need them. Create a Google alert -> 

Q: How can I export my genealogy research to share with family who do not want to sign into the platform I used to build our family tree? The file I got was not usable. 

A: Ah, GEDCOM, yes; it’s the default format you’ll get genealogy data in and isn’t meant to be read as is. Try a different site from the one you’ve been using to see if you like it better for engaging your family. You can download the free version of RootsMagic or create a free account on MyHeritage and then import your GEDCOM file and evaluate its fit for you. Review each site’s terms and conditions before importing your GEDCOM data so you know what they will do with the data. 

And watch out because the old GEDCOM formats do NOT download your media files. You have to download each photo, document, and other media file one-by-one. Always back up your media files locally before posting anywhere. That's a great bonus of Artifcts, which offers members non-proprietary, usable formats to download individual Artifcts and/or your complete collection. Simply click download and choose your preferred format. Done! And Artifcts does not compress (shrink) your media files either.  

Q: I’m new to genealogy research. Where can I find some easy and free resources to get started? 

A: Genealogists as a collective are very active in private and public Facebook groups. Historical societies are often great resources as well. Check your local libraries and museums for free workshops and access to digital research tools. 

Thomas shared two additional free resources during the event. Click play! 

Want to hear Thomas’ other great tips, including his thoughts on Evernote vs OneNote, top scanners for photos, negatives, and slides, and more? Watch the full replay on YouTube -> 

Keep Privacy and Security and Mind as You Work! 

It’s worth emphasizing the vital importance of privacy and record keeping throughout any family history and genealogy research endeavor.  


Data about living people, personal details (addresses, DNA results, birth and anniversary dates), and even the photos and videos you share should all be done with consideration given to all those affected.  

And if you have interviewed a family member and want to include their story, share the transcription with them before you upload it anywhere, so they retain control over their history! 


For real. Do not rely on a three-ring binder, fire safe, or, please no, a plastic bin or filing cabinet to be your vault. Embrace tech:  

    • A solid-state hard drive (you can easily find reviews from established sources like CNET) can provide you with speed, capacity, and longevity, helping future proof your research! 
    • And consider a secondary backup with a cloud-based solution or a digital vault service. There are many vault services available to store documents, photos, videos, passwords, and the like. Some also bake in estate planning, medical directives, and other tools to ensure you’re planning forward. Check out Keylu, one of our Allies in ‘Stuff,’ and others including Trustworthy and GoodTrust to find the best fit. 

For more technology tips and recommendations, download Genealogy Tech with Thomas


Are you a genealogist or family historian and curious to try Artifcts? 

Start here with Artifcts In Real Life and download our checklist of Genealogy Gems. And stay tuned for new genealogy-themed videos on our YouTube channel, too! 


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Organize Your Photos and Protect Your Privacy

Well, we kind of already gave you our top tips for how to Artifct photos to save the stories and the memories, not just the pictures.

But we’ve had so much interest in photos and are working with so many professional photo managers, we wanted to share with you our very latest advice, fresh off the proverbial presses! Our co-founder Heather Nickerson will be presenting a keynote speech on privacy on Saturday at The Photo Managers  conference in Orlando, Florida, so we thought we’d share some of her tips for protecting your and your loved one's privacy when it comes to photo sharing. 

At Artifcts we’re the complimentary force for good that will wrap a positive experience around your photos to ensure your key life moments will never be forgotten, are instantly organized, and are easily shareable, too.

Professional photo managers have told us that while working with clients there are always, always, always a small subset of photos, rarely more than 100 in a collection of 1000s that are people’s top hits. The ones that make them smile, bring them back to critical life milestones, fill them with warmth as they remember those people have passed through their lives. That’s what we’re about. 

Heather’s Photos + Privacy Top Tip

On that note, we give you Heather’s micro mini-crash course on photos + stories and memories + privacy. 

The guiding principle is simple: balance details with privacy. Consider leaving out details to protect your (or your clients’) privacy to keep bad actors at bay, especially if sharing publicly. Avoid: 

  • Addresses. Let’s not help the stalkers out there! 
  • Full names. Use your discretion, others might prefer privacy. Did you know ... when you mention someone in an Artifct using @, it shows their screen name only? Privacy!
  • Account/ID numbers. Best shared privately via a digital vault, like Keylu, one of our Allies in 'Stuff.'
  • Specific dates. Yes, they’re public record, but you don’t have to make it easy to find birth dates, anniversary dates, and similar all in one place.  

Want to See How It Works? 

Check out these Artifcted photos in @Heather’s personal collection, each balancing details and privacy:  

how to save photos with stories - tips from Artifcts

Share your own photo Artifcting experiences with us! Post a video on Instagram (tag @theartilife) or Facebook (tag @Artifcts) or write to us at Maybe we’ll feature your story.

Happy Artifcting! 


While we’re on the photos theme, check out these related ARTIcles by Artifcts:

A Virtual Impossibility: Keeping Up with All My Digital Photos 

Let’s Talk Photo Negatives and VHS Tapes 

Rescue Mission: That’s More than a Photo! Artifct That! 

The Importance of Digitizing Your Old Photographs, Documents, and Other Photographs 


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Introducing Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

We want to help each person to transform stuff from a potential burden today and on future generations to the source of immediate connection, history, legacy, and financial security. We cannot do it alone. 

The world of ‘stuff’ is broad and sometimes overwhelming! Artifcts helps you to connect the stories and stuff, enjoy walks together down memory lane, support your wills and insurance coverage, and think through and document what to keep based on those hard tradeoffs between the emotional and financial value (and space!).  

Others can help you preserve, sell, move it all, and more!

Today We're Unveiling Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'

Our allies are resources to help expand your awareness of the possible for you and all your ‘stuff.’ The organizations represented cut across multiple categories:

      • Digitization & Preservation
      • Organizing, Decluttering, & Moving
      • Valuations & Sales
      • Family History & Documentation
      • Preparedness & End-of-Life
      • Artistic Renditions

We have met with every company directly, reviewed their products, and are confident they can help or, at the very minimum, inspire. We have focused on those with broad national, and many international, footprints and services. Yet we know sometimes going local is what's needed, required, or desired. Learn about the possible in the world of stuff here at Artifcts! Head over to Allies in 'Stuff,' click to read about each company, and download the Allies map to have on hand as a reference.


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Artifct Cards & Letters

It was Always the Sentiment that Counted

It’s probably the rare person that sends of a card, note, or letter thinking, “He better keep this forever!” Instead, we simply want people to know we’re thinking of them. It’s that simple. But we tend to hold on to these items, rereading, framing, and storing, like a security blanket. That person, those thoughts and memories, are always there waiting for us to return to them. 

And yet we know how imperfect our memories are at any age. We know, too, that life can be messy. Whether through moves, mother nature, or otherwise, these documents that might be only sentimental — or could contain bits of your personal, family, or even world history — are vulnerable to decay and loss.  

Artifcters have shown us many ways to capture these notes and cards, and the memories behind them, and we hope they can inspire you:  

  • Photo of a particularly special letter from grandma + PDF of all the scanned letters + an audio of you or her reading the letter.  
  • Your farewell card signed by colleagues + individual notes a few people emailed you + details about that job and where you were off to next! 
  • Photo of the card your husband gave you + a picture of the flowers that accompanied the card + the story of that first Valentines together.  
note cards with handwritten messages
 It's something about evidence of the everyday that means even more when our loved ones are no longer with us.

Don't Forget! 

Letters tend to uniquely capture what seems like the everyday but becomes so much more meaningful and revealing with age! If you were the only one that wrote letters with your grandpa, consider privately sharing those Artifcted letters from your grandpa with your family. 

Consider Artifcting cards as groups – holidays 2022, birthday 1995, Mother's Day cards through the years, etc. It’s an efficient way to Artifct and it's fun to see them together and how they change over time! 


Have another tip or approach for cards & letters? 

Share on social media or write to us at  


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Artifct That Photo

The Allure of “a Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words” has Tricked Us! 

One month from now, you’ll remember the outlines of the day when you took that photo because it rained hard, you and the kids got lost, and you packed only one of the camp chairs. One year from now it might become a generic, “We went camping at Eagle’s Nest last year.” And a decade from now it could be, “We used to camp a lot.” Which story do you want to hear? Which tells you more about the moment, the people, and the colorful, painful, humorous facts of life? 

Digitization has made keeping all those moments simpler than ever, but making sense of them in our lifetimes, never mind a generation from now feels hopeless sometimes. That’s where the easy act of creating an Artifct comes in.  

  • Old photo of mom in a tennis dress + mom’s voice telling you about it 
  • Three jokester guys sitting on a fence + names and dates on the back of the photo + who they are to you, where that fence is, and why they were there together 
  • A picture of a random skyscraper + you on its top floor smiling at the camera + the story of your first visit to the UN in NYC and how it inspired your career 
  • A photo of your family living room + special items within the room + story about your childhood home 

A mom and her two children sitting on a couch in the mid 1980s


Don’t Forget 

Work on digital photos bit by bit, but certainly start with the newest before you forget the details. Trim your massive collection by removing duplicates, generic landscapes, and pictures of people you don’t know or don’t like. And, yes, it’s okay to throw away pictures of your former in-laws that you haven’t spoken to in 20 years. 

Are we talking old photos, as in generations before you? Consider Artifcting the collection – you can take a new picture with several old ones captured in it – and sharing to a family invite-only circle on Artifcts, giving members edit access to the Artifct to add details they know about the old photos. 

Before you digitize old photos, negatives, and the like, read our story on ARTIcles by Artifcts. And if you need help, consider hiring a Professional Photo Manager.  


Have another tip or approach for photos?  

Share on social media or write to us at  


© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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