Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pictures in an album

One of my many current projects combines my family's packrat problem with my attempts to declutter.

Sometimes you don't want to get rid of things that have sentimental value, but keeping them in a box, buried deep in a closet, serves no purpose.  If things are hidden away, and  you never see them, is there really much point in still having them?  (I know, there are exceptions to every rule, but hear me out).

My family took lots of pictures.  They had them developed, and then they put them in boxes, albums, more boxes, folders, envelopes, and, occasionally, frames.  They did this for decades.  And then they died.  Without ever having gotten rid of one picture, much less the negatives.

And I got the them.  All of them.  Boxes and albums and folders and envelopes and frames worth.  In addition to the ones I'd scavenged myself over the years.

These pictures were a huge part of my childhood.  Whenever I was visiting a relative, I always asked to look through the picture box and made them tell me stories.  Same with my mom -- if I was bored, it was always, "Tell me a story."  At least until I got old enough to dig through them and make up my own stories, which was sometimes even better.

I realized recently, while I was cleaning out the living room closet, that I had almost two full copy paper boxes of old photographs.  WTF?

In addition to all those pictures, I had two vintage photo albums, the kind with the cord ties and black construction paper pages.  Two BRAND NEW vintage photo albums, because apparently they were too good to ever use either.

Does anyone still even make those little paper corners for putting photos into albums?  I'm sure they do, but after wondering for a few minutes, instead I dumped all the pictures on the floor (should have taken a photo of THAT), did a quick sort for duplicates, blurry photos, crap I didn't want and cemetery photos (family liked to take pictures of headstones with flowers for relatives who couldn't attend funerals -- thankfully someone had already culled the photos from the viewings, because I really didn't want to run into any dead relatives), and then I started in with putting the photos in the albums.

I started with my great-grandmom and my great-aunts and grandfather, because that's where the photos started.  I'm working my way through my mom's early childhood at this point, and I've just started the second album.  I think by the time I get through the second one, I'll have dealt with my own childhood.

And I'm doing something unspeakable.  I'm not using little photo corners.  I've taken a glue stick to all these precious hundred year old photographs and you know what?  I'm the only one who's probably ever going to see them -- or value them -- so who cares?  They're a lot more protected in an album than they were getting all creased and torn in boxes, and I'm having a really good time going through them and deciding how to place them, and which ones to keep and which ones to throw away.

I'm also not having a problem throwing photos away.  If there were 10 pictures taken at the same family birthday party, I don't need to keep all 10.  I need to keep one or 2 that have everyone in them, or a particularly good shot of someone I loved, but the rest of them can go in the recycling.

It's actually very freeing.  If I'm going to keep a museum to the past in my house, and we all do, in some form or another, it's going to be a curated museum, with the pieces chosen and displayed just so, in a way that can be enjoyed.

And the rest can go, with my thanks.  Their work here is done.

8 comments:

SewRuthie said...

Fantastic approach!
I have lots of cousins and all in that next generation above me still living so this hasn't impacted me the same. I think you are doing a brilliant job. (P.S. you'#re not inspired by KonMari are you)

Linda T said...

Oh yes. I have lots of those photo albums (black paper, leather covers, and those little picture holder corners) from Mom and Dad in their young days--lots while he was Navy during WWII. So many photos of folks I have no clue who they are!! Haven't looked at them in years. Need to do something like you are doing--if I can make any time!

Sharon L said...

That is my next job to tackle - about 4 boxes of photos. Then the fun part, roughly 250 rounds of slides. I'm thinking I'll be done in about 10 years.

Kelly's Korner said...

Please use acid free glue! I ruined a whole scrapbook of photos using normal glue. After five years or so the glue went through everything. I was shocked! My photos weren't nearly as special as what you have.

Marjie said...

I found photos scattered throughout my idiot mother's trailer when she died, and gathered them into one box for sorting later...it's only been 2 years. I also found about 300 slides; scanned the 25 or so that had people in them, and ditched the rest, unless it was a place I recognized. You are right; it was liberating. I have no clue when I'll get to the box of photos, but I do know that my father scanned a bunch of them and tossed the originals, because I found CDs with about 250 scanned pictures.

Kathi Rank said...

They do still make the paper corners --- but you don't have to lick them anymore, they are sticky off the roll. Check your local Staples. I have also dealt with photos and feel your pain. It sounds like you are on the right track.

Now that photos are all digital, we are probably the last generation that will have to deal with boxes of snapshots --- our kids will be dealing with thousands of digital files (harder to cull than a box of photos) and odd size photo books we printed using coupons from Snapfish.



Elle said...

I'm sorting too, then scanning and uploading to a free genealogy site, FamilySearch.

tess said...

not sure if they are atill around, I bought photo corners from a company called Light Impressions