Family heirlooms are precious. Often, the value of the heirloom is apparent only to the family it belongs to. Old photos, junk jewelry, and inexpensive knick-knacks bring back memories and connection to ancestors. Sometimes, people find family heirlooms in some very weird and unexpected places.
MyHeritage has a helpful blog that includes a list of weird places that a family heirloom could be in. The list points out that genealogists should not assume that family heirlooms will be in plain sight. Some people may hide things in unexpected places. Or, they store them away for safe keeping, and forget to tell other family members where the heirlooms are hidden.
Genealogists will need to remember those tips when they are helping a relative move. They are also useful when cleaning out a garage full of stuff, or when you are tasked with the responsibility of clearing a relative’s home after he or she has passed away.
Many of the tips can be summarized as: “open everything and look inside”. That shoebox of old receipts could contain some vital records. The “junk drawer” just might be a treasure trove of old family photos. Empty prescription pill bottles could have jewelry, or wads of cash, hidden inside them.
Open every suitcase you find. There could be forgotten personal items that once belonged to an ancestor. If you are lucky, you may find old passports or travel documents.
It’s also a good idea to look at the back of things. Some people store important documents on the back of photo frames, or in the space between a painting and the wall it hangs on. The framed school photo of a relative could contain several more school photos, one stacked on top of the next.
Closets could hold coats that you remember an ancestor wearing. Old purses might have forgotten personal items in them. Handmade quilts could be stored on a closet shelf. There could be an old family recipe, hand written by your ancestor, hiding somewhere in the kitchen.
Things get a bit trickier when you search through the attic and garage. There’s no way to know what, exactly, is inside the old boxes until you open them and start digging around.
Look inside every dresser drawer. There could be a forgotten family heirloom inside it. While you are at it, take out the drawer and look into the space it was in. People have been known to hide things inside those spaces between the drawer and the structure of the furniture.
Open old tool boxes. The tools themselves might not be financially valuable anymore. However, they could bring back memories of dad, grandpa, or a great grandfather who build the shed, the patio, or even the garage itself.
Image by Kayla Kandzorra on Flickr.
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