The Archive Lady tackles the problem of preserving trophies and documenting the stories behind them
Janice from Oregon asks: “My father raced cars for most of his life, and we still have a large collection of his trophies from all those years (even though my step-brother has threatened to get rid of them). What is the best way to archive them to tell and remember the story of my father’s life in racing?”
Janice’s question is one that I get a lot as an archivist. Many people have trophies in their genealogy collections, whether they belong to their parents, grandparents, themselves, or their children when they were young. No matter what kind of trophies they are, they tell a story about one of our family members that should be remembered and documented but should we keep the actual trophies?
Old NASCAR Trophies, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I love trophies! I still have my bowling trophies from when I was in bowling leagues when I was growing up and my participation trophy for the one year I played softball when I was 9 years old. I even have a trophy from a motorcycle/car show where my motorcycle was awarded best in show in my class of motorcycles (My motorcycle was the only one in that class that was entered, but hey!). They live in my home office closet and when I see them, they bring back a flood of memories of those days when I used to live at the bowling alley, the terrible time I had playing softball (I played outfield and during one game I passed out from the heat!) and my few years when I rode a motorcycle along with my husband and all the places we went.
I am sure Janice has so many memories of her Dad and racing cars. Those trophies are a tangible connection to her Dad and her memories. It sounds like she has a lot of trophies, and she is trying to do something to preserve the history and memories she has connected to them.
One way to preserve them is to keep them intact and preserve them as they are. This can easily be done by getting archival tissue paper and archival boxes. Line the box with the tissue paper, lay the trophies on the tissue paper, cover with tissue paper and place tissue paper between the trophies so they don’t touch and secure the lid. This is how to preserve the trophies intact and whole.
If you don’t have the room to keep the trophies as they are or you just don’t want to but want to preserve something to be remembered, there is another option. Many archives just don’t have the room to store all the trophies they may get donated to them. The solution they use and one that genealogists may want to consider is to take a photo of the trophy and then remove the face plate that contains the personal information from the trophy. The face plate probably has the person’s name and what they were being awarded the trophy for and is glued to the base of the trophy. Take the face plate and a copy of the photograph and put into an archival sleeve which can then be stored easily in a file folder and doesn’t take up much room. This way, Janice still has something tangible she can hold and reminisce about her father’s racing time in his life, but it won’t take up a ton of room.
Courtesy of Cuckoo4Design.com
Documenting our ancestors’ and family members’ lives is what we as genealogists do best. There are so many artifacts that we have in our homes that bring back memories of those ancestors, just like these trophies. By documenting the stories, saving the trophies or the face plates will hopefully mean our descendants can know more about our ancestors.
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If you have a question for The Archive Lady, please send them via email and I could use your archival question in an upcoming edition of The Archive Lady column. Melissa Barker, a.k.a. The Archive Lady E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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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