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Discovering Hidden Treasures - Part 2

Updated: Jan 1

When I first decided to sit down with my grandparents to create a life documentary, I thought I knew what to expect. After all, I had heard many stories from them over the years. However, what unfolded was beyond my expectations.

Reclaiming the Past: Saving and Restoring Memories

To truly embark on a journey of discovering hidden treasures within your family's history, it's essential to pay attention to the preservation of the tangible artifacts that hold these memories. Old photos, VHS tapes, and home videos are precious windows into the past. However, over time, they can deteriorate, fade, or become damaged. Here are some valuable tips on how to save and restore these treasures:

1. Digitize and Preserve:

Converting old photos, VHS tapes, and home videos into digital formats is the first step toward preserving them. Invest in a good quality scanner for photos and consider using a VHS-to-DVD converter or a professional service for tapes and videos. Once digitized, you can easily store and share these memories with family members. However, remember that digitizing is not a replacement for physical preservation. Keep the original copies in a safe and dry place, even after digitization, to ensure that these precious artifacts remain part of your family's legacy.

2. Store Them Safely

Physical copies of old photos, tapes, and videos should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place to prevent deterioration. Use acid-free archival storage materials such as photo albums, acid-free boxes, and sleeves. Avoid storing them in damp basements or attics.

3. Repair and Restore

If you notice that some of your photos or tapes have suffered damage, don't despair. There are professionals and DIY methods available for repairing minor damage. For photos, consider using digital restoration software to fix tears, discoloration, or scratches. For tapes and videos, consult with restoration experts who specialize in audiovisual preservation. In Des Moines, IA, you can reach out to Alexander's Photo, a trusted local company that offers restoration services for preserving your family's precious memories.

4. Label and Organize

To ensure that the stories behind these memories are not lost, label and organize them systematically. Write down names, dates, and locations on the back of photos. For videos and tapes, create a catalog or index to keep track of what each contains. This organization will make it easier to access specific memories when the time comes.

5. Share the Process

The process of saving and restoring memories can be a bonding experience for families. It's a time to come together, reminisce, and create new memories while preserving the old. Here are two wonderful ways to share this process with your loved ones:

a) Family Photo-Sharing Platforms: There are several online platforms designed specifically for sharing family photos and stories. Websites like Tom's Guide offer recommendations for the best family photography sites, where you can create private or shared family albums, upload photos, and invite family members to contribute their own. It's a convenient way to connect with relatives near and far, allowing everyone to enjoy and contribute to your family's visual history.

b) Create a Family Scrapbook: Transforming old photos, letters, and mementos into a physical family scrapbook can be a beautiful project. Gather your family members and collaborate on assembling a scrapbook that tells your collective story. Each member can contribute their memories, captions, and personal touches to the pages. It's a tactile and creative way to bond while preserving your family's heritage.

Sharing these moments can spark conversations, laughter, and new insights into your family's history. It's also an opportunity to pass down the stories and traditions to younger generations, ensuring that your family's legacy lives on.

The act of discovering hidden treasures within your family's history involves not only unearthing stories but also preserving the physical artifacts that hold those stories. By digitizing, safely storing, repairing, labeling, and involving your family in the process, you can ensure that these treasures remain intact for generations to come.

In the next parts of this blog series, we'll delve deeper into the art of conversation and storytelling, guiding you on a journey that combines the past and the present to create a lasting tribute to your family's unique story.

Brittany Overton

Life Documentarian

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