Winter is the perfect time to undertake that project we’ve been putting off. When the weather is too blustery for most outside adventures, it’s a great opportunity to attack a project that’s been sitting in your closet, basement, or attic. For example, it’s a great time to organize old family photos. Fortunately, the Internet has loads of advice about the best way to organize those boxes and piles of photos you’ve been wanting to organize.
My mother was the family photographer and keeper of all the family photos. When she passed, she left 20 boxes of family photos. These were a treasure to receive, but there was so much of everything, and I was utterly overwhelmed. Lucky for me my brother stepped in and took over the task. If you do not have a super brother at the ready, this article will provide some ideas to get started as well as links to articles with advice from experts. Learn how to sort, preserve and organize old family photos and keepsakes in your care.
“Whenever we look at a photograph, the memories in the photograph become our memories as well!” ―
Get Started Organizing Your Old Family Photos with A Plan of Attack
Everyday Cheapskate Mary Hunt gives guidance on a plan of attack for dealing with your backlog of beloved photos. She advises purchasing archival quality, acid-free photo boxes. She recommends Pioneer, but many varieties are available on Amazon. These boxes preserve your photos safely and usually provide a plate on the front for identifying what is in the box.
Mary advises first sorting the photos chronologically. If necessary, start by century and then drill down from there. Once you have photos sorted in that way, you can decide if another kind of sorting convention should be used—by event or by family group or whatever makes sense, depending on the photos.
To read all of Mary’s advice, you can access the full article here:
Let’s see by a show of hands how many have at least one box crammed full of old family photographs out in the garage, up in the attic, or down in the basement. Look at that. Hands going up all over the room.
Try Sorting Your Old Family Photos with “The Parking Lot System”
Denise May Levenick, who calls herself the Family Curator, advises sorting photos by project or end goal, and she uses a sorting method she developed herself: The Parking Lot System. To get started she advises spreading white butcher paper on a large table to establish a clean sorting area. Get some index cards ahead of time. You’ll use those to label the various “parking spaces” for your sorting system. If you have a lot of photos to organize, you can tackle the project one box at a time with this method. Read all of the Denise’s step-by-step advice here:
Old family photos are like cars, aren’t they? They need a place to live out of the elements when they aren’t being displayed or driven (your pictures do take you places, don’t they?). Hold that thought. This morning I spent a few hours with a box of UFO photos I’ve had since the twilight year…
A Unique Storage Solution From Martha Stewart
You may not consider yourself on par with Martha Stewart, but a person can always dream. In this video, Martha shares a different take on photo organization, using a vintage cabinet.
Martha Stewart uses a vintage cabinet for storing family photographs, and explains how to archive them in acid-free boxes.
Let Martha’s plan for her photos spark your own creative ideas. Maybe you can find a way to keep your photos within reach to share with friends and family when they visit. What else are photos for?
Old Family Photos Are Treasures From the Past
Family photos are a treasure. If the task of organizing the photos feels like a bit too much, why not gather your siblings or kids or aunts and make a day of it? You supply the food and drinks, and invite a few loved ones to help you go through the photos and come up with a system that works for your family. Two heads really may be better than one in this case. The more people you have to work together on the project, the more people who can remember names and places and dates. There’s no reason you have to dread this task. Set aside some time and have fun with it!
And who knows, once you have success with your piles and boxes, you might be ready to tackle all those digital photos stored on your computer and in the cloud. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?