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Preservation Week

Recently it was preservation week at libraries across the country. The focus is on how to preserve important documents, letters, family papers, photographs etc. Preserving the history of my family is an important responsibility to me. It was impressed upon me as a young girl while visiting my paternal grandparents' home where I was shown, photographs with handwritten notes on the back of the objects or persons, the location and the date the photo was made. My grandmother, Gladys Fulton Glover, often pulled out scrapbooks or photo albums filled with newspaper and magazine clippings, programs from funerals, plays and concerts. She carefully showed me the treasured artifacts and explained their meaning, why they were important to her and our family.

Gladys Glover and granddaughter, Belinda Glover (Jones).

Herman and Gladys Glover, my paternal grandparents.

As I grew older, the amount of detail that my grandmother shared with me increased. We looked at the same items but more information was included in her description, often more stories and memories. She showed me letters and addresses, details on the envelope, the dates and stamps. This information intrigued me and one year for Christmas I asked for and received a stamp collection book for beginners. My grandmother was teaching me more than I realized through our time together, she broadened my horizons.

She taught me how to write letters, address envelopes and as she showed me her address book, she taught me why it was important for me to begin storing family addresses too. With her I saw letters she received from her uncle Nat (Nathaniel), her mother's brother, several from my dad and uncles to her as young men in the military or my dad laying bricks out of town. Christmas cards, birthday greetings and cards for every occasion she seemed to have from years ago and they fascinated me. I eventually bought a small address book and began filling it with names, addresses and phone numbers of family members.

I began with my grandparents' address both maternal and paternal, then aunts and uncles near and far. I recall before getting married spending time with my grandmother and we looked through her address book once more and she gave me an opportunity to copy names and addresses from her collection. She knew my intended, my fiancé was a young Army officer and we would move around from one duty station to another and she wanted me to be able to get in contact with family if we were ever near them. I did the same with my mom and dad and they supplied the name of more people, my little book had names on almost every page. This information greatly increased the number of contacts in my book and I marveled at the how prepared I was then to at least reach out to family as we relocated.

I remember vividly contacting my cousin in Washington D.C. to inform her that I was living in Alexandria, VA and would love to visit. Tony was stationed at Fort Myer, Military District of Washington, we arrived in October 1985 and after making contact with my cousin Melba, we had Thanksgiving at her home surrounded by family. I used the book again, and for Christmas that year we were with my cousin Grace and more family, she even invited my dad's younger brother and the gathering was wonderful. Every time I used that address book I was in contact with another set of cousins who lived in the greater D.C. metro area, I was all over the Beltway connecting with family on all sides. When we gathered not only did we have a great time connecting but I extended greetings from back home, from my parents and my grandparents. I told them about the photos I was shown to help me store and embrace the information and make a connection.

Those lessons from my grandmother were expounded upon as my father took the importance of the family collection of artifacts and important documents to another level to be shared in another post. For now, I am building upon the lessons my grandmother shared with me. I've already taught my children the importance of family history and records, letter writing and staying in touch with family. Today we can do that so much easier with our computers and other devices. Our digital contact app stores names, address and numbers, while our photo app stores the photographs we take. We can easily carry them with us and tap into them, even share them. A tap on the address and another app opens with a map and provides directions. But don't take for granted the 'old fashioned', or 'old school' mailing of a card, postcard or letter. Those simple acts can start some younger family member on a journey of their own as mine did. There is joy to be found in the writing and mailing of a letter and the anticipation of how it will be received. There is also joy in receiving mail that is not a bill or an advertisement, one sent with you in mind and carefully crafted. One day something you mail to someone may be what is kept and preserved to show someone later.

The link will take you to a resource for free webinars on the subject of preservation.


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