Keepsakes Divorced from their Narratives

Keepsakes Divorced from their Narratives

My last post I shared the importance of recording the stories that are linked to our keepsakes. We all want to prevent our keepsakes from being “divorced from their narrative, heirlooms without heirs, untold tales, poems in search of poets.” This post, I will share some ideas on how to document and inventory your keepsakes.
Saving the keepsake’s stories though, doesn’t go far enough. As family curators it is necessary to document our archives and collections. My 3rd cousin from Hawaii was here for dinner the other night. He mentioned that a family Bible had been donated to a private museum. While anyone is free to go and look at it, you would have to know that it was there to ask for it to be brought out so that you could enjoy seeing it!

Brown Family Bible circa 1903

Let’s discuss this common situation – say there is only one family Bible, that only one person out of all the eligible descendants is going to inherit. The other less fortunate relatives can still share in the keepsake in a small way, if the owner takes the following measures:

  1. Photograph the object. Take a series of photos from many angles (front, back, side, inside, bottom as necessary) and then digitize the photos.
  2. Scan pages of the pictures, book or documents.
  3. Fill out the Family Cherished Keepsake Inventory Record, which you can download for free here.
  4. Determine the monetary value by looking for similar items on ebay or other sites.
  5. Keep a digital copy of the records/pictures on your computer.
  6. Make a digital file on your computer and burn a CD and keep it in a safe deposit box and give other copies to other family members.
  7. Designate the future inheritor of the keepsake. Assign who and when they are to inherit (when the marry, when a child is born, after you die? This alone will solve many future problems).

7 Steps that if you take now, will insure that your beloved keepsake will continue to be beloved for generations. Be sure to include any special care instructions for the keepsake’s, its maintenance and upkeep (how the grandfather clock needs to be wound, what is used to clean it, etc.) if necessary.

No need for divorce, we can reunite our beloved keepsakes with their narratives, if we take a few steps to insure a long and beautiful union. Your descendents will bless and thank you!


  1. saving the stories behind your keepsakes is definitely a must…that’s why they are called keepsakes.

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