Memorabilia in a Shadowbox

iStock_000009991942XSmallWorking on family history is not just names, dates, locations and family stories. Various family members can have heirloom pieces which can be displayed in a shadowbox rather than tucked away in a closet.

A shadowbox is an enclosed case where specialize memorabilia is sheathed for display. Encasing the objects does protect them from light on most sides and does allow the items to be fully viewed without being handled. The style of the box can take on many different forms, but the clear front is most common.

Obviously, not all heirlooms can be placed or should be in a shadowbox. The size and weight of an object right away dictators if it would work in a shadowbox. Since a shadowbox generally displays a collection the full weight of all the items needs to be considered.

The type of collections that can be used in a shadowbox are numerous and varied. Typically awards, badges of ranks, pins, medals and ribbons for an ancestor who served in the military are very often displayed in a shadowbox.

Themes such as a wedding, children, schooling, sports, civic awards and souvenirs can each make up a shadowbox. Family historians like to produce a shadowbox on a certain ancestor with photos of that person and personal items (handkerchief, eye glasses, ring) that best symbolize the person.

Another form could cover a distinct family branch also with photos, certificates, licenses, illustration of homes and farms. Other ancestors may have had a specially unusual or interesting career; such as a circus clown, a movie actress, a judge or sea captain and the shadowbox would just be the place to showcase that occupation.

The items in the box do not need to be all original items to the person or family. Having good photo copies of the advertisements from the family grocery store can be most interesting. Such items of these items can be found in the archives of local newspapers and public libraries. There may be a special large plaque awarded an ancestor, too large for a shadowbox, but would look great as a photo in the box.

There may some items you want to display, but would be very afraid to expose it to any light. This is true of old letters or any ephemera which was never intended to be preserved when originally used decades ago by one’s ancestors. Doing a one-time high resolution, scanned photo of the paper item would have it preserved in a digital format from which any number of copies can be made.

Be creative and this shadowbox can become a treasured heirloom to be handled down though the generations.

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