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TIPS & TRICKS
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. 
 
THE PARENT.

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.

THE DOWNSIZERS.

“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!

A PROFESSIONAL ARCHIVIST.

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 US NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

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.

OUR THOUGHTS ON SCRAPBOOKS

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.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Going Green. With Artifcts.

Who says it's not easy being green? 

In honor of Earth Day 2023 we created a special downloadable for all those items from around your home that through decluttering, moving, or otherwise "clearing on out," you want to move on without adding to the landfills. For our first edition, we’ve gone 100% eclectic, like the Artifcts you all create every day. Before the 'stuff' goes, Artifct that! 

 
 
Click the image to download your copy. All ideas are linked so you can learn more!

And if you want to upcycle, and still aren't sure where to start, check out companies like UpycleThat for inspiration on repurposing and options to buy and sell items. You can also call or visit local charities and similar to learn about their ongoing needs. Local charities abound, but here are some examples to get you started that range from nationally represented to always local:

      • Dress for Success (Clothing)
      • Habitat for Humanity (Tools)
      • Goodwill (Donates millions of crutches, wheelchairs and more every year to veterans' groups. We realize you might only Artifct these as a good ridance moment, but those matter, too!)
      • Disaster relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and fire stations (Clothing, blankets ...)
      • Universities (Your graudate's gown)
      • Hospitals (Needs vary widely, but some accept games and stuffed animals.)

We also strongly encourag reaching out to professional organizers and estate sellers who tend to be incredibly knowledgeable about uniquely local resources.

Happy Artifcting!

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© 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.  

PROTECT PRIVACY.

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! 

SECURE LEGACY.

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

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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! 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Artifct Family Heirlooms and History

Connect the Dots so History Can Live on 

Often genealogists and/or the "family keepers" find themselves on lonely hunts for the details of the near to distant past that help them piece together their family history. If you truly seek to preserve memories and keep the family history alive, the scattered facts, photos, and memories locked into family trees and timelines or behind paywalls might be your best tools and your biggest hurdles. 

Here are a few of our favorite combos of photos, video, and audio for a family history experience that will stand the test of time and engage the next generation: 

    • Ship manifest + family photo + audio of Grandma's and Grandpa’s version of events;
    • DAR certificate + family lineage to the Revolutionary War + who applied, why, and what you know about the patriot;
    • Mom’s corporate articles of incorporation + her business logo + an audio recording of her telling the story of building her company;
    • Baby’s baptismal gown + photo of the wedding dress it came from + generations of pictures of those who wore the gown.  

Mother and one year old daughter sitting in wicker rocking chair

 
 
Click the image to view the story of the Artifct about this family heirloom.

Don't Forget! 

    • Artifcts’ invite-only circles are perfect for modern family history and reuniting family heirlooms every day. Not just during family reunions! Don't wait until it's too late.
    • Never share personal information about living relatives without their permission. Privately share the Artifct, leave a note, see what they think!
    • Use "Location” on your Artifct to record where you have stored other related files online or in hard copy and select an option from “In the Future” to help make your wishes known. 

_________________

 Have another tip or approach for genealogists and family history enthusiasts?  

Share on social media or write to us at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Minimalism Techniques that Can Help Us All

A decade or so ago when Zoë Kim, of Raising Simple, began taking small steps toward a more minimalist lifestyle, it was her kitchen that was her motivator. How could she function when there was so much stuff, food stuff to use and not waste, but also stuff to fit into cupboards, wash and dry, and generally even remember to use! Why did she even have five wooden spoons when a few would do?

 
 
 
 
"That {stuff} began to weigh on me as I started to grow my family." - Zoë Kim

Back then, minimalism was not the popular theme it is today. There weren't podcasts, checklists, blogs, and books at every turn telling you how to start down this path. Advice was lacking that was practical, especially for this mom of two. No way was she going to tackle her whole house never mind start counting how many she had of each item in her home.

Fast forward to 2023. She's the mom to seven children in a blended family with her husband Matt Paxton. While he had spent nearly his entire career helping hoarders, supporting people who need to clean out their houses and others who were downsizing, he was never a minimalist. He liked his stuff, and the stuff from his dad - so many paintings! - and his grandfather. He liked it all so much that as he wrestled with how to pack it up to move in with Zoë, he almost didn't move! (Read more about that experience in his book Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.)

The key for me was recognizing I had enough. Enough is the important word. I did not need more. - Matt Paxton

Minimalist Hacks for Daily Life (with Kids!)

Zoë and Matt appeared recently on an episode of Evenings with Artifcts, and they shared their combined insights on parenting as practical minimalists.

At the heart of this way of living for their family is that they have dramatically reduced the number of decisions they have to make on a daily basis, from getting dressed to setting the table for dinner. And for people like Zoë who are naturally disorganized, it's hard for her to make much of a mess when she only owns three pairs of jeans. And she can fold them any which way she pleases, and they'll fit in her drawer!

 
 
 
 
Practical minimalism helped Zoë, who is disorganized at heart, live a fuller, less stressful life!

See if any of these hacks from Zoë and Matt can help you!

      • Create a space for things. It will fill up, then you'll have to clear it out. This is great for kids (a locker, cubby, or drawer) and kids at heart, too. Artifcts cofounder Ellen Goodwin loves these bright, recycled, collapsible crates that come in multiple sizes.
      • Use it or lose it. It's been multiple seasons or years? Give it to someone who needs it or will at least put it to go use today. And stay tuned, because we'll have a great guide for you this Earth Day (April 22).
      • One in, one out. That applies to nearly anything: t-shirts, hats, shoes, books! And pause to Artifct the sentimental ones first! Who needs all these t-shirts anyway?
      • Model the behavior you want to see. Let "them," whomever that is in your life, see you make those same hard choices and let go of things. 
      • Give a fixed time limit. Your spouse or child says they want to sell it? Okay, set a limit of 48 hours and then move it on out, one way or another.
      • Capture the stories. Telling the stories helps us let go of items. You'll find you don't need the item itself as much as you thought you do. Artifct it; let it go. Here's one man's story of capturing stories in order to downsize.
      • Collections can exist, but maybe not all at once. You might not have room to display it all without drowning your space. Rotate monthly which items in your collection you feature, whether that's a statute or a painting. Here's the painting Matt Paxton currently has on his office wall.
I give credit to Marie Kondo on this one. I think it's important to frame it not as what you are letting go of but what you are deciding to keep. - Zoë Kim

At the end of the day, Zoë and Matt are united in the view that they have a better life because they have less stuff. 

We encourage any of you seeking additional practical daily living tips to read Zoë's book, too. Maybe buy the digital version - an act that means one less book enters your home! 

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Artifct that Militaria

Taking Steps to Capture Military Service History 

Realities shared among those who served together, snippets of which might be recorded in letters and photos as well as the service uniform that evolves over the course of a career. These are pieces of a story that is unique to each person who has served, the jobs they held, the places where they were deployed. They also hold meaning and sometimes mystery to those who wait at home for their service members to return. 

We know one service member’s experience is unlike any other’s career. But how do we know more and learn from our history unless we capture and share it? Consider these combos of photos, video, and audio to capture pieces of military service history: 

  • Photos of full-dress uniform + close ups of each sleeve + front + description of each with rank and time period;
  • Mail from home + mementos carried with you + video snippet talking about the objects;
  • Picture with fellow service members + service award or certificate + story of that moment in time.

 
 
 
 
Check out the Artifct: West Point Class of '79 Ring.

Don’t Forget 

Remember many people lack a military background and vocabulary. Your loved ones and peers will enjoy your stories, no matter how detailed. Most civilians simply have no context for military concepts and lingo unless you give it to them. What does that rank or that call sign mean? 

Privacy & security first. Be sure to consider how/whether you mention others by name. Maybe share the Artifct with them privately first to make sure they are okay with it before you share it more broadly. And avoid all sensitive operational details – it's the big picture story that should live on! If in doubt, leave it out.

Trying to research the military service of your next of kin? The Department of Veterans Affairs can help! Click here  to get started.  

Questions about the militaria that you have or may have inherited? Reach out to Mid-Atlantic Military Antiques, one of our 'Allies in Stuff.' 

_________________

Have another tip or approach for military mementos? 

Share on social media or write to us at Editor@Artifcts.com.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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