A newspaper clipping from 1800 about George Washington’s death?
A pair of cowboy boots fit for a baby?
A set of old photos fused together?
Your great grandmother’s passport?
What do all these treasures have in common? They were just a few of the possessions brought to a recent presentation by the staff from the Southwest Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives on how to preserve records and memorabilia. Those lucky enough to get into the free class (with a waiting list!) were educated about disaster preparedness (what five things would you grab if you had an emergency???); what records to keep and for how long; and scanning, preservation and organizing photos and documents. We also heard author and historian Drew Crooks explain how he organizes his digital collection of drawings by Edward Lange, an artist who drew highly detailed panoramic drawings of the state and British Columbia from 1889 – 1912.
The presentations certainly held the attention and interest of the roomful of genealogists and family historians, but the creme de la creme was the “show and tell” where attendees got expert advice about how to preserve the item they’d brought. While we first sat politely in our seats listening to the history (or unknown history) of each item, by the end, we clustered around the owner eager to hear from the archivists about how to preserve and document the prized possessions.
Tracy Rebstock, Southwest Regional Branch archivist, will be taking her (shortened) show on the road to the Lower Columbia Genealogical Society on Feb. 8 and the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society on June. 9. The Southwest Regional Branch of the State Archives includes Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties.