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Personal Archiving

At the recent wedding of a friend, the bride & groom read letters to each other during the ceremony.  It reminded me that over 35 years ago, I had written a letter to Lenny the night before we got married (in 1975).  Since he had no memory of it (of course),  I was determined to find it.  I was sure it had to be in an old trunk we kept locked in the attic. First chore was to find the key to unlock the trunk.  Found it. Since the temperature is about 130 degrees in the attic this summer,  the second chore was to drag the trunk down the stairs so we could wade through all the memories in cool comfort. 

(Yes, that’s Lenny and me on our way to our honeymoon.  Two things in this picture Lenny doesn’t have anymore- the leisure suit and the hair)!

  Finding the letter would be no easy feat as the trunk is filled to the brim with old letters and poems we’d written to each other, letters from family members now deceased, old magazines, college term papers, resumes, wedding cards, birthday cards, notes from our children when they were small, and many more memories.

We have spent quite a bit of time laughing at things we’d written and shedding a few tears as we’ve relived our courtship and first few years of marriage. I finally found the letter I was looking for, and in the process, two 50-something-year olds got reacquainted with their 18 to 20-something-year-old selves. Little did we know then how much it would mean to us at this stage of our lives to have our own treasure trove.

The purpose of revealing this personal bit of history is two-fold:

  • In this age of texting, tweeting and emailing, it’s a plea to a younger generation to occasionally commit your feelings to paper so in thirty years, you’ll have a window into your younger self.
  • It’s essential to think about personal archiving.  We are extremely fortunate these memories survived our many moves and the damp basements and hot attics in which the trunk was placed these 30+ years. A flood, a fire, a careless mover and our personal histories would have been erased – no great tragedy to mankind, but a great tragedy for us.

Think about the number of old photos you have stuffed into shoeboxes or in old non-archival albums and how easily they can be destroyed.  Framing a few of them would allow you to preserve and enjoy them.  Scanning and saving them digitally gives you a backup in case something happens to them. Think also of how many digital photos you are keeping on your computer or phone and how a crash will wipe them out unless you have backed them up or uploaded them to the many off-site photo storage sites available.

The Library of Congress provides wonderful information on how to preserve your own digital memories on their website:   http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/

After looking at my Farrah Fawcett hairdo and Lenny’s  leisure suit (in vogue in the 70’s), I’m thinking maybe it wouldn’t have been such a tragedy if this picture had been destroyed! 

Wishing you a wonderful trip down memory lane and happy archiving!
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