This week our guest blogger Marianne Behler of Lifetime Photo Solutions shares her story of preserving a small part of her family legacy. She asks, in the years to come who gets the pictures? Who will tell the stories?
My Father’s Postcard Collection
I like to write about what I know the most – my life, my story. It isn’t particularly interesting; it just happens to be mine. Every person has a story to tell. Every child, every person should have one book to hold that tells them how important they are, their history with pictures and stories of their life.
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My Family Legacy: That Was Then
Valentine’s Day will be here soon. Every year as Valentine’s Day approaches, I think about my Father’s postcard collection. I love his postcards. They are part of my family legacy. I love looking at them, getting them out, holding them and thinking about who sent them or exchanged them with him. The collection dates from the early 1900s when people exchanged postcards. Back then it was called cartophilia, an early term describing the hobby of sending and preserving greeting cards. Today it is known as deltiology.
Early 1900 card collecting was possibly the biggest craze ever to hit civilized countries. Germany mass produced cards which were sold on most street corners. World War I marked the end of this practice. Most large collections of the early period remained preserved in card albums and were not disseminated to other family members until the 1930s and 40s when the family moved away from the old house and cleaned out the attic. In my case, it was the 1980s. I received my father’s postcard collection from my Aunt Elna, my dad’s sister. She wanted me to have it because it was my dad’s.
That Was Still Then
Fast forward to late 1990s. I took the postcards out of their original album because neither the album nor its green scrapbook pages were photo safe. The cards were now over 85 years old and I knew what acid and lignin would do to the cards which also are not photo-safe. I transferred each card to a photo safe scrapbook album and arranged them according to holidays and other types of cards. I labeled each card with the writing on the back. Everyone I have shown the collection to marvel at the collection – particularly the quality of the cards.
And This Is Now
So now the postcards are approaching 110 plus years old. I have always wanted to scan them and possibly pick my favorite to frame and display in my home or even to break up the collection and to pass on.
Whoa! Did you just get what I said; break up the collection!!! So here’s a big ah-ah. Future trends – my kids and my grandkids probably – no, more than that, absolutely will not want my photo collection, my postcard collection or any other collection. They probably won’t even want my good china! What they will want and will love however is one photo book with pictures and stories of our beautiful family treasures including my father’s postcards. All postcards from Valentine’s Day have now been scanned and are going to be part of my Family Treasure Photo Book. All scanned images of my postcards are now preserved and uploaded into cloud storage. My favorite cloud storage program is Forever.
And last, imagine tomorrow’s technology if you can. What I know now is that because I love this particular postcard collection, I have taken the time to preserve and share it. Technology keeps changing and advancing. Will there be a better way to preserve and share the images of my father’s postcard collection (or any other family legacy collection) in the near future? Perhaps, but for today I have embraced the technology that allows me to both preserve and share it.
I encourage you to look at your collections and use the advances of technology today and to look back with an eye on the future of your family legacy.
If you need help organizing and preserving your lifetime of photos, videos, and keepsakes, find a photo organizer near you at the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.
Marianne Behler started her business, Lifetime Photo Solutions, as a photo organizer in 2010. She supports clients as a certified photo organizer, trainer, and coach. She specializes in managing personal and professional photo collections by organizing, digitizing and creating backup systems. She creates legacy photo books for families with a lifetime of photos and memories.
Beautiful! I too have a postcard collection that isn’t even organized – just piles of cards in various boxes. They are old and new of places we have gone on vacation, our old historic family hotel that burned down when I was in 2nd grade, places I have lived, antique new year’s cards (I was born on New Year’s Eve), and many others. Some tell stories about the location and the sender on the back. I have been saying for years that I need to organize them and put them into albums but my photos have taken priority. This article has me thinking and pondering what I should do with them because I don’t think my daughter will want them in the future. One big question – should I also scan the back of the cards?
Sounds like a great collection. I would definitely scan the backs for identification purposes and for capturing the lovely notes (and hand writing) on the backs!