How to Get Access to People’s Stuff

For Christmas last year, I created a digital scrapbook for my mother about her and her heritage. The book was 20 pages long. Just long enough to provide an overview of her life and heritage and still get it complete.

When she opened the present, early because she was excited to see what I created, she shed many tears and now shares the book with anyone who might be interested. After seeing what I did with her photos, artifacts, and answered questions, she was inspired to send me more stuff.

One item that stands out is a picture of my father in bed with his leg wrapped. I remember that my father had had leg surgery at some point because I remember his scar on his knee. Now I have a photo that tells me when, ‘where’ he recovered, and Mom can tell me more about the surgery. I also remember the dot pillow case to his left very well. I also remember the football team pillowcase. It’s these little things that have such memories and are great treasures. They lead to more questions and a richer story.

When I showed the album I made about my mother to my Aunt in Ohio, she pointed me in the direction of her photo albums and artifacts and said have at it. Amongst the items she had were photos of my grandmother’s honeymoon and Grannie’s high school diploma.

I have created a ‘rough’ draft of my family history research in a narrative format. I sent these copies to my father’s cousins. When I showed up in Ohio to meet them, they were prepared to show off the photographs and artifacts they have. Now, I need to update the family history research and make some scrapbooks or more elaborate books for them. I’m sure it will generate even more things.

A photograph of my grandfather’s bracelet inspired relatives

to show off the artifacts they have.

As I’ve posted photos that I have taken of family artifacts, both my aunt and mother have given me items to photograph to complete the story of my family members. By posting about my grandfather’s military bracelet, I had access to my grandmother’s mother’s pin and my mother’s charm bracelet.

My grandmother’s Mother’s Pin was shown off after I posted

the bracelet that belonged to my grandfather.

Here’s the biggest event to date.  My husband has been very supportive of my quest for my family history. He’s helped me numerous times in developing setups for artifact photography. He’s edited the family scrapbooks as well. Through this, he’s seen my skill develop and is very appreciative of the talent I have. As I started photographing my personal mementos in attempts to remove clutter from my home, dear hubby let me include much of his items in the pile. Yeah!!!

Then he shocked me and said he wanted my help in creating a better scrapbook of his mission. Oh yeah! The scrapbooks he had were a collection of photos and documents but no stories and such. So he’s willing to write the stories and organize the photos. He wants me to work my magic on laying out and decorating his scrapbooks.

Okay, now before you think, ‘You just created a big project for yourself”, I’ll say that’s true. But I’m so excited. My husband is an amazing man and I want the kids to truly understand what made him so. As he began to open up to me about ‘his stuff’, he also said that eventually he wanted to work on his scrapbook pre-mission. Now that is a gold mine for me. You see, the pages are lacking, to put it nicely. I’m so glad photos and documents are gathered in a safe place. But my kids say (and see if this happens in genealogy too), “What is that picture of?” Me: “Um, I don’t know. Ask Dad. Oh wait, he’s not here right now.”

So, I’ve sped up eventually for him just a bit. I’m wearing out my scanner by digitizing those pre-mission scrapbooks. The photos will be better organized and saved. As hubby has free time, he’ll write about the mission and then work on the pre-mission days. Then I can work my magic on his stuff. During his ‘eventually’, I’ll still have my aunt’s, mother’s, and father’s cousin’s collections to work on.

As I create more works that can be shared, I know I’ll have even more access to other people’s stuff. And I think that’s AWESOME. It’s amazing what can be obtained and learned when we access the stuff. In short, if you want access to people’s stuff, create something so those you’re trying to gain access to will appreciate. It might take some time before the treasure trove opens up, but if you show how much you value the items people share, they’re more willing to share.

Good luck and let me know how things work for you.

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