Storing Your Memories Efficiently and Safely

October is American Archives Month, the purpose of which is to promote awareness and value of archives in society - as our country’s collective memory. The city of Somerville has its own archives, as does the SPL in the form of our Local History Room. I love old pictures, so I enjoy visiting the city archives’ tumblr, too. While it’s unlikely you actually work at an archive, you may want to create your own personal archive. Right now, it may be a shoebox full of old photos and letters, or it may be a folder on your computer’s desktop. Or, if you’re like me, it’s a mixture of both -- and more, spread across social media accounts, the cloud and a rusty old filing cabinet. I’d like to highlight a few online resources to help you organize and build your own personal archive - one that can last for generations. The Library of Congress has a lot of great tips for preserving records, photos, audio, video, websites and emails. Tips include: -Locate and inventory all your files, whether they are on *gasp* floppy disks or on websites or in a tangible file folder. -Decide which ones are important enough to keep and if the final draft or other versions are necessary to keep. -Organize the items by giving them descriptive names, placing them in a folder also with a descriptive identifier and making a sort of key to your collections, a few sentences to remind yourself what’s in there. -Make copies and store them in different places. At least two copies are recommended, one on your computer’s hard drive and one on a disk or thumb drive. It is suggested that you store one copy at home and another at a friend’s or relative’s or even in a safe deposit box. Make sure you check your physical copies every few years to make sure writing has not faded. Here is a brief brochure in pdf format to help you get started and a longer one if you really get into your personal or family archiving project. And, check out these books from the Minuteman System: Personal archiving: preserving our digital heritage, edited by Donald T. Hawkins How to archive family keepsakes: learn how to preserve family photos, memorabilia & genealogy records by Denise May Levenick The unofficial family archivist: a guide to creating and maintaining family papers, photographs, and memorabilia by Melissa Mannon

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