The Archive Lady – Melissa Barker – helps a reader preserve her old family recipes for future generations to enjoy!
Joann from South Dakota asks: “I have many of my Aunt’s original, handwritten recipes. What is the best way to archive and preserve these recipes for future generations?”
Joann has a true treasure with her Aunt’s original, handwritten recipes. They are just as much part of our genealogy history as the rest of our family documents and should be preserved.
Recipe Boxes of Agnes Marie (Curtis) LeMaster, Melissa Barker’s Grandmother
One of the first preservation methods that we should do for any document, photograph, and recipes is to digitize them. Putting our records into a digital format and keeping that format current will go a long way to preserving our genealogical records for our descendants. If the original records are destroyed, the digital version could be the only remaining version that survives for us to reference.
To physically preserve and archive recipes is a simple process and one that anyone can accomplish.
It is important to make sure the recipes are free of any metal. There should be no staples, metal paper clips or any other metal fasteners attached to the recipes. If there are metal fasteners, remove them and replace them with a plastic paper clip. Sometimes recipes are very long and take several pages or cards and they are fastened together with a metal fastener.
Example of metal fasteners
Place the recipes into archival plastic sleeves that are acid free, lignin free and passed the P.A.T. (Photographic Activity Test). These sleeves can be purchased through any online archival materials store (see list below). These archival sleeves come in many different sizes and there should be a size available to fit just about any recipe or recipe card. Individual sleeves can be purchased or sleeve pages can be used that will hold up to four recipe cards and have holes so they will fit nicely in a 3-ring binder.
Preserving and archiving the original recipes are important but sharing these recipes with family and friends is also a good idea. Consider putting together a family recipe book using your ancestor’s recipes to give to family members. Sharing these family favorites just might get your family members interested in genealogy or at least interested in talking about family history.
Fudge Pie Recipe, author unknown, Houston County, Tennessee Archives
Another great idea for the annual family reunion or holiday: make a couple of the more well-known family recipes and bring them to the event. Have copies of the recipes in hand to give to family members so they can carry on the traditions of making the old family recipes.
Just like family stories that we pass down from one generation to the next, the dishes that our ancestors made are an important part of our family heritage. Many times, tasting a treasured family dish could bring back memories of our family members and recording those members can add to our genealogy research and our family story.
Online Archival Supply Stores
- Gaylord Archival
- Hollinger Metal Edge
- University Products
- Light Impressions
- Archival Methods
- Print File Archival Storage
Melissa Barker’s Legacy Family Tree Webinars and QuickGuides Presenter Page
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If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation.
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