Preserving Family Treasures & Heirlooms
|How to Protect and Save Them for Future Generations|
Family treasures link generations in a deep, personal way. Anyone who has seen their great-grandmother's baptismal gown, grandfather's wallet, or a photo of a relative going off to war knows how moving these pieces of history can be. These treasured items, passed down from generation to generation, provide insight into the lives of our ancestors and a richer understanding of our family's history.
Often these treasured family items make the journey from one generation to the next, but the stories that help give meaning to these treasures often don't survive the trip. Ask family members about their possessions from the past, the original owner, and special stories or memories about each item. Your local library or historical society will have books and articles on historic decor, furnishings, clothing, and other artifacts to help you learn more about the history of your family heirlooms and how to protect them.
Family heirlooms are a great treasure, but can be easily damaged by light, heat, humidity, pests, and handling. Here are a few basic things you can do to preserve these heirlooms for future generations:
If an item is especially precious, sometimes there is no substitute for expert help. Professional conservators understand what causes the deterioration of many different materials, and how to slow or prevent it. They master their subject through years of apprenticeship, university programs, or both, and usually have a specialty, such as paintings, jewelry, or books. A local museum, library, or historical society may know where to find conservators in your area and can offer other advice on preserving your treasured family heirlooms.
© 2003 Kimberly Powell. Licensed to About.com.
Some information courtesy of the "My History is America's History" project.