Preserving a Family Heritage: Sheet Music & Scrapbooks

Monday evening, August 19, 2013
My neighbor Barb is helping me weekdays like a surrogate sister. This morning we emptied the last storage cabinet in the basement. We had hoped it was full of old AT&T bills and bank statements that could be tossed directly into a shredding bag. In addition to this expected content, we found my mother’s family treasures: baby books, scrapbooks, sheet music, old photos and letters that have been stored for over a century (a grade-school graduation book from my great-grandfather Samuel Bryant was dated 1888).

I was dead-tired at ten am when we had the cabinet emptied and contents aired-out on our triage tables in the garage. It is the beginning of my seventh week managing the house contents and emotionally I felt done — despite having had a morning bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola with black coffee. As Barb sorted and re-packed used holiday paper and novelty napkins from the cabinet, I sat and shared the huge history of my grandparents, the music teachers and leaders, John and Emily Fraser of Seneca Falls, NY. In addition to their family photos and scrapbooks, the majority of the content was sheet music from the 1920′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, and documents related to their professional lives band-leading and choral-teaching in the towns of Seneca Falls and Geneva, NY in the 40′s – 60′s. How could I best preserve this documented heritage for the future? Another cup of coffee and some internet research later, I discovered that photo boxes, archival sleeves, and acid-free containers, combined with a storage location that is light and moisture-protected is the answer. We headed out to a local crafts-supply store to get the goods, swung by a Moes (southwest grill), split a Monday burrito special, and three-hours later returned home refreshed emotionally and equipped to get the stuff sacked. A future archiving project will further parse and organize the many pieces.

Estate Management Tip: Listen to your body/mind/spirit when managing an estate. At times it can feel emotionally overwhelming. The company of a friend, good food, taking a break, getting out of the house, and napping are a few holistic ways to help manage the monumental task.

Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry, and action,
~ Mary

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