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Scrapbooking Your Family's Memories

Updated on December 14, 2014

Preserving Your Family's Memories Through Scrapbooking

If you lost everything you own, what would you miss most? You could buy new clothes. You could buy new furniture. You could buy a new house. You could buy a new car. You could buy a new television,. What you could not buy are the memories. You couldn't buy the photographs of your children when they were young. You couldn't buy the photographs of your grandparents or great grandparents. You couldn't buy the card your daughter made for you for Mother's Day. You couldn't buy the letter your husband wrote while he was away for a while.

Memories are not something you can buy. We can only preserve them. Scrapbooking is one way to preserve those precious memories. You can place the photos, the letters, the cards, the certificates and other keepsakes in a scrapbook. Then in case of an emergency, you could grab the scrapbook to take with you.

You can also create digital scrapbooks. You can save the scrapbooks and photos on external hard drives or on CD's or DVD's and give copies to other family members. Items like a dress or a piece of furniture that can't be placed in a scrapbook or scanned into a computer could be photographed so the photos could be saved.

Memories are precious and may be one of the few things you can pass on to your children and grandchildren. Take time to preserve your memories.

How to Start Scrapbooking

If you want to scrapbook, it is best to first organize what you want to keep. Organizing your photos and other keepsakes is your first step. Sort your photos according to the date of the photo or according to who is in the photo or any other method that makes sense to you. Decide what kind of a scrapbook you want to make. If you want a scrapbook about a certain person, then collect the photos of that person and the keepsakes for that person. If you want a scrapbook for a certain period of time such as the past year then collect the photos from that time. If you want a scrapbook about certain holidays or certain activities then collect the photos for those holidays or activities.

Decide on the kind of album you want to make. An expandable album is nice since you can add additional photos or keepsakes to it as you find them. Albums can become huge. You may want to break down the album into smaller parts and make more than one album. For instance, an album about your mother could be broken into her growing up years, her years as a young mother and her years as a grandmother.

Keepsakes such as certificates, programs, tickets, and other items can be added to the scrapbook. Remember these items may not be archival safe. You may need to isolate them with plastic sheet protectors from photographs or you may treat them with an acid-free spray. These items can add a great deal to a scrapbook. If you are concerned about their effect on your photos, you could make a copy on acid-free, lignin-free paper and add the copy to your scrapbook. You may also take photos of the items you would like to add and put the photo in the scrapbook. This is especially good for items that you want to remember, but are too large or are impractical to put in a scrapbook.

Making a scrapbook may seem like a big project, but if you make one scrapbook page a week over the course of a year you would have made 52 pages. Just start and keep on consistently working and you will soon have a great scrapbook.

Copying and preserving your photos

The first rule in preserving photos is to make copies. Copies can be made in different ways. You can send the negative to a photo developer and have a copy made from it. This will probably give you the best photo just like the original. You can send the photo to a photo developer that will make a negative from your photo and then will make you a copy. You can scan your photo into your computer and then print out a copy. The quality of the finished photo will depend on your scanner & printer.


A Way to Make Preserving Your Family Story Easier

Organizing your photos, journals, keepsakes, etc. is a major part of preserving your family story. The better organized you are, the easier it will be to preserve your family story. A few rules to help protect your photos and other keepsakes are good to know before you begin. The following are enemies of photos: humidity, light, extremes of temperature, and chemical emissions.

Don't store your photos in a high humidity place such as a bathroom or kitchen or anywhere a water leak might occur.

Keep your photos protected from light such as in an album or storage box. Photos that you put on display should be copies if you want to have the originals last.

Attics and basements are not good storage sites as they can be subject to extremes of temperature. A closet or cabinet on an inside wall of a room in your home that you live in can be the best storage place.

Chemical emissions can come from the things we store the photos in. Paper itself can have chemical emissions that will cause it's eventual breakdown as well as the photos that are attached to it. Choosing archival safe paper that is acid free and lignin free for photo albums is a wise choice. Sheet protectors can help to protect photos from fingerprints and dust, which are damaging to photos, as well as protecting from the migration of chemicals from other items such as newspaper clippings, tickets, programs, etc. that may not be acid free or lignin free. Be careful in your selection of sheet protectors as PVC can be damaging itself to your photos. Select sheet protectors made of polyethylene, polyester, or polypropylene or Mylar. If you don't know if your sheet protectors are PVC or not try smelling them. If they smell like a beach ball or a shower curtain, they are PVC and may harm your photos over time. You should also check the albums or binders that you put your photos in to make sure they are not made from PVC.

You can identify your photos by writing on the back, but you should do so with a very soft pencil or a pen that is acid-free, archival quality, light-fast, waterproof, fade proof, non-bleeding. The adhesive you use should also be photo safe. Fingerprints can be damaging to photos. The oils in our skin attract dust and can cause damage to the photos. You could wear cotton gloves to protect your photos or you can be careful to hold the photos by the edges and avoid fingerprints on the important parts of the photo. Remember cardboard, paper, wood and plastic can all lead to deterioration of your photos and other keepsakes.

Now you need to sort your items. These may be sorted by person or chronologically or by theme. I like to sort by who is in the picture or story or who the keepsake belonged to and by who would like to have a copy of the picture or story. Many photos have more than one person in them. Making copies so each person could have one would be the best idea. Many ancestor's diaries or life stories would be appreciated by several of currently living family members, and copies being made of them and given to each family member would be much appreciated. We live in a wonderful time when making copies is so easy. My mother loaned some family history to another family member back in the 1960s and was quite upset when it was not returned to her. Today she could have made copies of the original to give to the family member and could have kept the original herself. We are very blessed with the technology that is available today when we are trying to preserve our family's story. Sharing family photos and history is much easier with the internet and email.

If you sort your photos and keepsakes carefully, it will make it easier to make an album, a photo CD, a scrapbook or a family history book. You may want a separate box or file for each member of the family or for each year depending on how you have decided to sort. After sorting your items, store them in boxes or files that are preferably archival safe.

I struggle with having enough time to do all of the things that I think are important. I find it hard to make time available to write my family's story and to preserve the photos and other keepsakes. As I have thought about what can help, I know that being organized is a big help. If I have a place to keep the photo corners, glue and tabs it makes it faster when I want to attach a photo to a page. If I have my paper sorted by size and color, it makes it faster and easier to select the paper I want for a particular page.

Writing Your Story

Writing Your Story

The pictures and keepsakes you use to make a scrapbook will bring to your memory many stories.

Pick a person and start their story. You may pick yourself, one of your children, one of your parents, a brother or a sister, a grandparent, but pick someone and start their story. You may also decide to do a family's story. In writing about one person you will also be writing about other people also, so you may want to do the whole family's story or you may want to write an individual's story and use parts of it when writing another individual's story.

Writing the story on the computer can make it easier as you can copy and paste events that involve more than one person into each individual's story. Another alternative when you don't have access to a computer is to write different events on 3" X 5" cards and then events can be pulled out for inclusion in another person's story when you make the finished copy. The advantage of writing on the computer or on index cards is that you can reorganize the story easily if you need to. Perhaps you learn about a certain event after you written about that time period in the person's life. You can add it in the right time period easily on the computer or you can write it on an index card and put it in the right place.

You may want to start with something like a special event or a vacation or a holiday or with all the related pictures such as school pictures. You can use pictures, letters, certificates, memorabilia and other items to help write the story. Make a pedigree chart and family group sheet of that person or family. Fill in all that you know. Refer to the pictures, letters, certificates and other personal items to fill in information. Ask other family members for information. You may want to do more research on the internet such as put in the person's surname or full name if deceased and see if there are any websites on the family. You could go to and see if there is any information on a particular person. Another website that may be helpful in researching your family is Cousins may help you learn more about your ancestors. Almost twenty years ago I moved 500 hundred miles away from where I grew up. I didn't know anyone in the town I moved to before moving there. I discovered that I have distant cousins on both my mother's and my father's side of the family here in this town. They have shared stories and photos of our common ancestors. It has been a blessing to discover these cousins.

For ideas of what to write about think chronologically like:

>birth--date, place, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, what was going on in the world at that time, any unusual circumstances

>preschool--how was time spent before going to school, friends, discovery of things, mischief gotten into, places traveled to, beginning to develop talents and abilities, holiday celebrations

>school years--teachers, friends, places school was attended, subjects learned, what an ordinary day of school was like, what special events occurred

>young adulthood--continued education, work, marriage, travel

>middle age--work, family growth, travel, talents, hobbies

>later years--grandchildren, volunteer work, community contributions, accomplishments

These are only a suggestion of where to start when writing. There are many things that can be written about so write about what comes to your mind. Pictures, certificates, letters, and other memorabilia will tell part of the story too. You can quote from letters or include the whole letter. You may find things written on the back of photographs or you may just learn things to include in your story from looking at the photo. Interviewing family members is another way to gather more information. You could take a tape recorder and as you visit record the conversation. My husband did that with his mother before they both died. It is a valuable piece of family history for us. My aunt recorded a conversation with her daughter and her mother. She gave me a copy of the recording. That is also a valuable treasure to me. You can videotape visits with family members. We have a videotape of a visit we had with my father just a couple of months before my stepmother passed away. Ask family members to write down what they remember. Maybe at each holiday you could ask family members what they remember of family celebrations of that particular holiday. Ask what they remember about a certain year. Ask what they remember about living in a certain place. Give yourself time to write the story. You can keep adding to the story whenever you remember something more. Remember you are creating a valuable treasure.

Happiness Comes When You Look at Pictures of Happy Memories

In the past couple of weeks I read a couple of articles about how to be happier. One suggestion was to look at pictures of happy memories. When I was growing up one of my favorite activities was to look through the box of photos. There weren't a lot of photos and they weren't organized in a scrapbook or an album, but it was still a very enjoyable experience for me. Now I have lots of photos. I do like looking at them. Now instead of going through a box of photos, I can scan them into my computer and make a slide show or a video. I can make a scrapbook with the photos and the stories behind them. If happiness comes from looking at photos of happy memories, then no wonder scrapbooking is such a popular hobby now. Work on your scrapbooks and bring more happiness into your life.

Every picture has a story behind it. Perhaps it is a picture of someone you love. It may be a picture of something fun you did. It may be a picture of a fun trip you took. Looking at the picture can bring back happy memories. The picture in this module is of a trip that I and two of my daughters took with other friends to Bodie, CA. It was a great trip and we have happy memories of that day.

Another Way to Preserve Your Family Photos

Photo books are easy to create online. You just need to have your pictures on your computer. You select a theme for your book and a layout for the photos and then select the photos you want in the book. Some photo book publishers offer further automation by offering to automatically place the photos for you in the book. Some books let you add captions. Some even let you add text. If you don't feel especially artistic or crafty, or you don't have time to scrapbook, you still can have a nice book with your photos in it.

Share Your Scrapbooking Tips

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I do not scrapbook but my sister is an active scrapbooker involved with creative memories. She loves it.

    • pkmcruk profile image


      8 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Always good to find another person on Squidoo who shares my love of Genealogy :-)


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