I am an expert purger of things. I love to haul stuff to the trash or donate it to Goodwill. But my parents were savers and these boxes are filled with stuff they couldn't bear to get rid of and apparently neither can I. They're filled with pictures, documents, letters, and memories. What do you do with all that stuff?? I can't exactly bring myself to throw away old Bibles, my parents' social security cards, yearbooks, and locks of unknown babies' hair, but what do I do with it? Craig suggested scanning all of it, which is ridiculously tedious, but at least all that stuff would be in a safe place in case of some natural disaster. But even after scanning all of it, I'm still left with the same problem of what to do with all the originals??
On Friday night, everyone was busy downstairs watching movies that I wasn't interested in, so I took the plunge and opened a box.
I happened to also be exploring ancestry.com and familysearch.org, so my casual exploration of boxes turned into a pretty exciting night. For the past year or so, I've been really interested in genealogy and since I have more family than the average person, it's been twice the work and twice as fulfilling. My little family trees are growing rapidly.
I love that you can add pictures and documents to both of those websites now. I'm not sure why that makes me feel like they're permanently recorded somewhere. And who knows? Maybe that will allow someone else to find their ancestors and add to their little family tree. Digging through those boxes helped me attach pictures to all those names I keep finding.
Between scanning stuff and uploading it to both websites, it took me until well after midnight just to get through half the box. But boy, did I find some cool stuff...
This is Lloyd Leslie Pollett. He was my paternal grandmother's brother, and the fifth of ten children. I had heard the names of the other nine siblings mentioned occasionally when I was a child and I had the opportunity to meet a few of them, but this name that I found on a 1920 census from Harrisburg, PA, was unfamiliar to me. But I added him to the tree. And then Friday night, while digging through the box, I found this picture. (His name is written on the back.) And in another pile, I found this little grey folded program...
Apparently he died when he was 23, although I don't know how. But with this little record, I was able to add an exact birthdate and death date to that family tree up there. So, while the rest of the family caught up on the DVR, I was quietly solving little family mysteries upstairs.
It's a gratifying feeling to put together family connections, and extremely humbling to see how many people came before me and laid the foundation so that I could be exactly where I am today. I'm so grateful for all of their sacrifice and work, and I'm grateful to know a few of their names.
So, the boxes still sit tonight, unpurged but a little more familiar. Maybe someday I'll know what to do with all of this stuff, but for now, it looks like they're going to linger a bit longer.