by John

The Genealogy Center often gets new books that have a wide interest to a variety of patrons. We recently received a great new book by Denise May Levenick titled, How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia, & Genealogy Records, GC 929 L576h. It deserves to be read by every genealogist, especially those of us who are not as organized as we would like to be. A short book with just over 200 pages, this book is, in fact, a very practical guide for getting a handle on all of the “stuff” that we genealogists and family historians have accumulated (a very real challenge in my household).

Levenick offers practical checklists throughout her book, starting with a chapter on setting goals for your archival project: organizing, inventorying, deciding how to store, and enlisting assistance, among many others. As an archivist myself by training, I appreciated her early articulation of the Curator’s Commandment: Do no harm. “Think twice, if not three times, before attempting any conservation acts involving irreplaceable family artifacts.”

She goes on to offer practical advice about selecting proper archival-quality storage media and developing a workable organization scheme. There is an excellent chapter on cataloging archival photos with practical advice about storing as well as digitizing. Another chapter focuses on family heirlooms, such as art, china and glassware, jewelry, toys, clothing, quilts, tools, and other items. Yet another one deals with family papers and genealogy files. Levenick discusses whether to digitize or store in vertical files, showing how to catalog and organize files and showing the advantages and disadvantages of every method she proposes.

I enjoyed this book both for the simplicity of its organization and for how well it addresses a complex subject. It should be used by any genealogist wishing to get a firm handle on organizing their family “stuff.”