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Your "Artifctable" Resolutions

Heather Nickerson, Artifcts
January 05, 2023

It’s that time of year again! Time to make promises to ourselves to be better, work smarter, live healthier, and so forth and so on. I swore decades ago that I would not make New Year's resolutions. Nope, not me. I would make New Year's goals instead, family (and pets) included. 

What’s the difference? In my mind, goals are things that I work to achieve over the course of the year. Things that I can make incremental progress on and forgive myself if I don’t follow through on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. To me, goals are the friendlier version of resolutions; goals don’t require me to give up anything or go all draconian on one thing or another. (And good thing too since only 9% of Americans follow through on their resolutions by the end of the year!) 

Here at Artifcts, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at the most common goals people set for themselves for the New Year and thinking about how Artifcts can help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Okay, there may be some limitations, as I have yet to find a way that Artifcts can help me run a 5K with my daughter, but you can bet that we’ll be Artifcting the medal after the 5K! As for my goals, here’s a peek at a few along with tips for how Artifcts can help you make AND keep New Year's goals. 

My goals for this year are: Spend more time with my family, clean out my junk drawer, organize my digital photos, and run a 5K with my daughter. Sound achievable, no? Let’s break it down: 

Goal: Spend More Time with Family 

Artifcts is a great way to spark intergenerational conversations and stories. Visiting an older relative? Look around their house and pick an interesting object. Ask them the story behind it, what it means to them, and why they keep it. We can’t wait to hear what you discover! Same goes for kid art (what is it and what were they thinking), old photos (who is that and what are they doing), really, anything that sparks your curiosity and makes you ponder “Why?” Ask the question, create the Artifct, and share the memory.  

Goal:  Clean Out [Insert Space in Your House Here]  

We all have those spaces in the house where ‘stuff’ lurks. For me, it is my junk drawer. My husband may have moved a full trash can between houses, but I moved a full junk drawer. I need to stop making excuses. Out with the junk and in with the Artifcts. That Red Sox ticket from 2003? There’s a reason I’ve kept it all these years, time to Artifct it and move on. Same goes for the nearly impossible puzzle I bought years ago. My entire family will thank me for this goal.  

Need more decluttering support? Check out this story on ARTIcles. 

Goal: Organize My Photos 

Did you know that the average American has over 2,000 photos on their phone? That’s a lot of photos! Ellen has previously discussed the overwhelming nature of digital photos in  this story on ARTIcles. So what do you do with all those photos? Artifct the ones that mean the most; the ones that have a story behind them; the ones that you are going to want to remember decades from now. And when we say the “ones,” we really mean the “ones.”

I Artifcted eight photos last year; four were old photos, two of which I had the story behind, and two of which I am still searching for the stories. The other four were photos from events and moments in time that I wanted to remember not only for myself, but for my daughter, too. Artifcting is my way of remembering for her, of ensuring she will have the story (and memory) when she wants it.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Could You and Should You Part with a Family Photo?

Today our invited guest curator, genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee of GenealogyBargains.com, 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!

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I’ll admit I’m a sucker for click-bait news headlines like the recent one, 'I sold family heirloom to pay for my wedding - guests are now refusing to attend'. Basically, the eldest son in a family inherited a valuable family heirloom and decided to sell it in order to fund a lavish destination wedding. His reasoning? “I'm not much for big family traditions, so although it's a nice thing to have, I'm not massively attached to it. I have plenty of other good memories of my father and I don't need a fancy heirloom to remember him by.” 

I won’t weigh in with my opinion on this specific situation (well, okay, I will at the end of this article), but many of us experience similar dilemmas. The heirlooms we inherit are often not “high value” and consist mainly of family photographs. And many of these items hold no sentimental value for us. The challenge? What to do with the vast collection of family photos especially if we haven’t found a family member interested in keeping them? How do we ensure that these items are available for future generations? 

What Should Stay When I Go? Should I Keep or Should I Throw? 

I recently celebrated a Big Birthday (one that ends in a 0) which caused me to ponder my own mortality and what I would be leaving behind for my family to sort through. I have a HUGE collection of family photos dating back to the 1860s … literally over 4,000 photos. While I have spent many hours digitizing and cataloguing these images, what is the next logical step?  

The concept of “Swedish death cleaning” has always intrigued me: the process of cataloguing items accumulated during one’s life and attaching notes or instructions as to how they should be passed on or disposed of. Would I be willing to do the same with old family photos? Just like the article about selling an heirloom that one deems less important than other family members, what is my duty to hold on to and preserve family photos and what methods should I use?

Golf tally card and photo in an old scrapbook

 
 
Facing a similar dilemma with family scrapbooks?
 
 

My Decision and My Methodology 

I consider myself a “steward” for my family photos as well as my genealogy research. I don’t have a deep need to hold on to the actual photograph of my great-grandfather John Ralph Austin at age 18 months taken in 1897. The image has been scanned, catalogued, and I have even Artifcted it here.

Old fashioned black and white photo of a child in a long gone on a chair circa 1897

What I haven’t yet decided is:

    1. If I still want to keep this photo;  
    2. If I want to send it on to an organization like the Lewis County Historical Society in Lowville, New York where my great-grandfather was born; or  
    3. If I’ll simply include it in my estate plan and let my executors decide on the disposition.

A neat feature when creating an Artifct is the In The Future field where I can designate what I want done with the photo:

In the Future menu with options to sell, bequeath and more

 
 
Give it a try! Click the image to create a new Artifct. Or edit an existing Artifct and use the 'In the Future' field.

While every family historian has different approaches to preservation of heirlooms, I strongly recommend creating a digital copy of the item in case the original is lost due to fire, flood, natural disaster, etc. In addition, make sure that digital copy is somehow backed up to the Cloud, an external server or some mechanism providing redundancy.  

Conclusion

In terms of the valuable family heirloom mentioned at the beginning of this article, I thought it was very poor form for the groom not to consult with the rest of the family, especially the younger brother who had a keen interest in keeping the item. Again, this simple act is in line with my role as a steward for my family history and heirlooms. What may not seem sentimental to me, may have a strong attraction for one of my cousins or other family members.

Please put together a plan on managing your family heirlooms and seek input from others in the family. It’s so easy to do here at Artifcts. Spur conversations about valuable or sentimental items, even if it is just a phone call or video call. Often you’ll gain perspective by learning more about the heirloom: what you remember about the item could be very different from that of an aunt or a cousin. At the very least you’ll collect new information to expand the story of that precious family Artifct.

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If photos are weighing on or inspiring you, we have additional ARTIcles by Artifcts that might interest you!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How to Share Genealogy Stories with Non-Genealogists

We drafted this piece for you today at the direct request of multiple Artifcts Community members. There seems to be some frustration out there when it comes to family history enthusiasts sharing the excitement after hours of toiling* away at genealogy research. For some, the issue is that friends and family refuse to even listen. We warned about this in an earlier post.

Others simply want their friends and family to sign into genealogy websites to look at the timelines, galleries, and trees they've built but the loved ones hit the same wall: intimidation. People tell us that they find the sheer volume of ancestry information and the hyper-detailed nature of it overwhelming. They just want the highlights.

Then there's the anxiety that genealogists report with regard to the 1000s of photos and documents that remain locked on their hard drives, behind subscription paywalls, or in their physical possession, all deterring easy sharing of the stories we’ve pieced together with our families.

A New Resource for Genealogy Story-Sharing

Here are some of the ways we’ve made story-sharing and storytelling simpler and more powerful than ever before for family genealogy and history.

  • No ‘story’ is required. Or at least not what the weight the word “story” might carry for you. A few words will do! And if you’re capturing the history of an ancestor from long ago, consider using a photo, snapshot of their place in the family tree, and maybe a census record with their entry highlighted. You can always fill in more details about who that person was and their life, where they lived, and the heirlooms they left behind later.  
  • You can include video and audio snippets to bring your story to life! You learned that your ancestor founded a major port city in Virginia? Click record on your phone, tell the story, and add it to the Artifct. Move on! This becomes even more fun when you have a living relative to tell the story. No more second guessing, “What did Grandpa really say?” Grandma’s biscuits are legendary, and now so is the video of her showing you how to make them.   
  • To share or not to share, that is always up to you! Some memories will be private until the day we die. But, for others, sharing with a family member may help recall more story details (or an alternate version of events!). Import your contacts to Artifcts, create family invite-only circles for easy group sharing, and off you go!
  • Devil is in the details, and we’ve got your back! If you like to color code your ancestors, highlight key story gaps or points, or create custom folders for your research, Artifcts is here for you. As you write, you can easily format your story. You can even use the @ feature to link to other related Artifcts about the same collection or family line. And tags are infinitely custom with the rigid structure of folders – use a special tag like #MayFamily52 to easily click and sort your collection or tag related relatives and events that help you organize your work.
  • We help you balance details with privacy. Genealogists know, birth dates and other important biographical information for living family members need to stay out of any story or tree you might share with people outside the family or publicly, even at Artifcts. At the same time, we’ve learned you want to be able to share documentation—like a scanned collection of letters or the life story Grandpa wrote—privately with friends and family. Now you can!

What tips and tricks have you discovered for telling and sharing your family genealogy and stories with Artifcts? We’re all ears and would love to hear! You can contact us at hello@artifcts.com.

Happy Artifcting!

________________ 
 
Check out related ARTIcles and tips about storytelling and genealogy with Artifcts: 
 
Genealogy Gems checklist – Free downloadable! 
Chasing Histories Can Be Exhausting and So Worthwhile! 
Artifcts Quick Tips – Free downloadable! 
Not sure what to write? Tips from author Jeff Greenwald

* Toiling, they'd have us believe! As though they aren't having fun? Hmm, we suspect otherwise.

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What Should You Artifct (Now)?

Even the most ardent Artifcts supporters struggle sometimes to get started. And then they do start and suddenly they are late for meetings because they are enjoying the experience.

If you find yourself stuck, or maybe you think you don’t even have much to Artifct, see if any of these experiences from around the Arti Community get your wheels turning.

No Idea Where to Start.  

One of Artifcts’ own advisory board members confessed, “I joined Artifcts because what you’ve built is amazing. It will change relationships and relationships to ‘stuff’ forever, but I was slow to start Artifcting. I just kept over thinking it! I wanted to start with the most meaningful items to me, but that was delaying me. So, I turned around at my desk and I Artifcted the first interesting thing I saw. It was a dried flower my daughter had picked for me outside her preschool. She’s thoughtful like that – it’s so her. That’s all it took to get going.”

grid of Artifcts from egoody

 
 
Well, Artifcts co-founder Ellen Goodwin has about as eclectic an Artifcts collection as it gets. Her recent Artifcts include a Mother's Day card, a rock from Tucson, a Taylor Swift concert, DAR insignia, furniture and more!

I Needed to Artifct the Most Valuable, Quickly. 

One woman shared, “At first, I went collection by collection and just added a few words about each item so I knew my most valuable possessions were safe in Artifcts. Now I’m going back through my Artifcts to add the stories. I want to be able to say these things, have them here. I’ve also started adding audio and video to some, too.” The "Alberto Lagos Print" Artifct captures the provenance of an item in a big way. Check it out ->

My Adult Daughter Inspires My Artifcting.

A gentleman wrote that his daughter is his Artifcting inspiration. “She Artifcts a lot at night and when I wake up, I have new Artifcts she’s shared with me waiting. They give me ideas about other things I want to Artifct."

Black outline of a bell with a coral colored dot Look for the alarm bell on Artifcts.com and the Artifcts mobile app for your newest alerts!

He continued, "This morning my daughter’s Artifct about a purse she bought in Paris reminded me to Artifct my wallet. I bought it in a market in Brazil years ago during a work trip that my wife accompanied me on. She drove me crazy trying to pick the best one. I think of her every time I grab it. I don’t think I’ll ever finish Artifcting. It’s more like a way of life now.” His story reminded us of our #HabitChange story in ARTIcles ->

I don’t think I’ll ever finish Artifcting. It’s more like a way of life now.

It Usually Starts with a Story I Tell.

“Sometimes I catch myself telling a funny or very personal story, and realize in that moment, I really need to Artifct it. I’ll add or take a photo to go with it; other times I record a quick voice memo of myself telling the story. I think my family will really appreciate it one day.”

lightbulb Arti Tip! Use a tag like #LifeStories, #EarliestMemory, #LessonLearned, and #BestTallTales to help quickly find all the stories of yours you love best. Just click the tag to sort your Artifcts!

Don’t Judge: I Made an Outline.

At an Arti Workshop last month, one woman told us that in preparation for starting to Artifct, she made an outline. We were intrigued. “I wanted to capture objects from my personal and work lives, my childhood and adulthood, each of my hobbies (stained glassed, travel, and reading), and about key relationships. I’m working on each of those one at a time. I got the idea from an Artifcts post that talked about going room by room. I just used different life-based groupings!” 

Example checklist from Artifcts

 
 
If you like outlines and lists, you might like our inspirational checklists you can download.

It Was Bulk Trash Day.

Sometimes the act of giving or throwing stuff away is your ultimate motivator. “I dragged this old trunk to the curb that first I had used for sleepaway camp and then my son, too. And I looked at it and realized I needed to Artifct it! It held so many memories. I couldn’t let it go completely.” 

Black travel trunk sitting on cement curb

 
 
Sometimes our stuff outlasts the memories. But with Artifcts, you can let go of the stuff and hold onto the memories!

What will you Artifct first? Next? Share with us at Editor@Artifcts.com; we’d love to feature your own stories!

Happy Artifcting!

_________________

Artifcting Starter Resources 

We have all sorts of helpful resources that we want to be sure you know about to take the pressure off and let the fun begin: 

Inspiration Checklists

Videos on YouTube

Artifcting Quick Tips

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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