Inventory Family Artifacts

Artifacts of a family refer to anything that reminds other family members of a specific ancestor. It could be a sports trophy or military medals, pictures, a favorite book, a favorite toy from when they were little, jewelry, clothing, sports equipment, family Bible, treasured family furniture pieces, a recipe book, a vase, a scrapbook, a journal or letters.

Anything can be an artifact. This includes paper items such as letters, documents or even one small scrap of paper. One of my prized artifacts is the bill of sale for a wagon on a small scrap of paper dated January 13, 1789 and made out to my 4th great grandfather. Imagine 230 years that piece of paper was handed down the generations.

So whether you are the keeper of the family artifacts or any other family member or divided among several relatives, someone needs to make an inventory of all the family artifacts.

First, find out who and where family artifacts are located. Even if you just start with one or two individuals with some of the family artifacts, it is a start.

Have photographs (digital) made of all the items (taken from different angles). Next, compile information. Find out how the items came into the possession of its current owner. That is creating a provenance – a history of each item. In my case, I could easily write the lineage of each person who owned it. Next, make sure a current full name, address, email address and phone number are kept on who now owns each artifact.

You need a full description of each item. Include (a date) when it was created, given, purchased or acquired originally. Label photos also. Is there any special family stories related to the artifact. For example, in our family, a relative has a Civil War Union gun owned and used by our 2nd great grandfather plus a Confederate bullet. The story on the bullet, it was removed from his foot when he was hit with a Confederate bullet during the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. He kept the bullet after the doctor removed it. It has been handed down through the generations.

After one or two of the family members have the photos, stories, dates, lineage of each artifact, make digital copies and share with other relatives. This will encourage them to do likewise with any artifacts they have.

Photos: 1789 Bill of Sale and photo of Civil War revolver and bullet removed.

Related Blogs:

Family Artifacts to Keep

Preserve Newspaper Artifacts

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