If your family is anything like mine, you are sure to have family albums that are sitting in closets or on bookshelves filled with photos passed down from grandparents, great grandparents, maybe even great great grandparents. In my husband’s family there is only one person that has those original photos and the album comes out every family reunion. Four months ago, I introduced you to cousin Susie, our family historian. She helped me with some questions I had when I created my father-in-law’s first baby album.
Now that my father-in-law’s baby album was finished. It was time to work on a project that I felt like was long over-due. The “Evans” family history album. The family album looks like this right now. A three ring binder with old self adhesive pages. Maybe you remember these magnetic self adhesive pages or have some albums in your attic just like them.
You may not know that these self adhesive albums were all the rage a long time ago but the adhesive actually eats away at the back of the photos ruining them with time. Can you see the edges of the album? See the yellowing? This is due to acid that is eating at the pages and photos while also discoloring the images. It can also make the photos hard to remove from the album.
Also, our history album, as you can see has nothing but photos. Any captions that were on the back in pencil are now written in ink on the front of the photos. Where the photos were taken, the year, and even who is in them are missing.
Who were these people? How are they important to our family? What were their dreams? Finding the answers to these questions help tell me why the Evans family is in Oregon and why some of our family have the personalities they do. My son is the only Evans in our family that will carry his name. I feel like it is my responsibility to find the answers to these questions for him. When he grows up and asks these questions, it might be too late to get him the answers.
My brother-in-law started making notes and placed them on the top of the pages next to the photos. I found it easier to just ask Susie a question about the story I wanted to tell and copying and pasting her text into word processing and printing it out right away on archival cardstock (see supply list below).
I decided to start with the first story that seemed interesting to me. Where did they live? There was a hand drawn map in the album labeled “Carus” and other historical documents that were labeled Oregon City, Canby, Clackamas County, and a photo of Carus School. The internet was extremely helpful and answered questions that even the family members didn’t know.
My questions were – Where and what was Carus? Why did my husband’s great great grandfather live there? What did he do? What was life like there?
It began the first story in my album. In my research I have found that Carus still exists and is only an hour away from where we live. In fact, the school is still being used! With the map I was able to piece together where their house would have been!
Susie and her mom were able to answer my questions and from there, I created my Storyline page.
The Storyline pages come with a “who, what, when” section on each page. For some reason, that was hindering my documenting this story. I wasn’t exactly sure when or where these photos were taken exactly. So, I stopped myself and just decided that I wasn’t going to let that keep me from telling this story. I covered it with pattern paper. There are no rules, right?!!
Then I added Susie’s answers to my questions. I added more information I found online with the We R Memory Keepers Typecast Typewriter on Storyline stickers. I also started to date the photos knowing the timeline a little better, thanks to Susie.
Then, I added more stickers from the Pebbles Inc Heart of Home collection. I felt this warmed up the story of starting a new home in Carus.
This is just the beginning of this album and I am looking forward to telling more stories! Here are 5 things I recommend if you are looking to document your family’s story.
Get the photos out of acid filled albums. If you are not ready to jump into scrapbooking your family’s story yet, get those photos out of acid filled magnetic albums! If photos are stuck remove them safely by using some of these tips. Place the photos in acid free photo albums until you are ready to scrapbook them.
Start scrapbooking using a simple system. It can cost a pretty penny to scrapbook your family’s history. Heidi Swapp’s Storyline collection makes it easy and affordable. The albums come with the pages and page protectors. The sticker and journaling kits are easy to use. Just peel and stick!
Scan and preserve photos. If you have originals, make sure they are digitally preserved! Scan them for your albums. I prefer to not glue originals in an album. Photo corners are better so that photos can be removed for more preservation if needed. The photos that I have used on this layout have been scanned and printed. To learn more about what scanner I use and how to preserve photos or negatives check out my video here.
Start with a story that you want to tell. When there is a big project like this, it can get overwhelming. Start small. Tell a story that you are interested in. When that one is done, do another story you love. One story at a time will get the job done. Starting is key.
There are no rules! Remember, there are no rules to scrapbooking. If you want to add a sticker or pattern paper, go ahead. If not – you don’t need to! Check out these simple pages I did using Heidi’s Storyline collection using just the album pages and Storyline kits here.
I look forward to sharing more of this journey with you! You can follow some behind the scenes of how I am working on this project on my Instagram account and Instagram Stories at @createoften. In the meantime, I hope this inspires you to document your own family’s stories!