+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    A fountain of knowledge
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    France
    Posts
    421
    Thanks
    305
    Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts

    Default How to deal with a pile of letters

    I am the keeper of the family tree and archive for my family and very conscious of the 'responsibility' it brings.

    I scan photos and keep originals in an album where they can be removed easily if required. I have various documents which I keep in plastic pockets in ring binders and some are scanned to my computer.

    As my generation are now aging (age range 50 to 85) I am 'inheriting' more and more 'stuff' from their attics. My oldest living cousin has now given me a huge amount of paperwork from her older (recently deceased) brother who was the eldest of our generation. A lot of the documents are in lever arch files and at a quick glance I can see they are duplicates of things I have or things I sent him - BMD certificates etc. There are many old photos I have to sort through.

    But, more importantly, are a few diaries from WWII which his father (my uncle George) wrote and kept. I will have to read these and may pick out some interesting bits to share with family. Otherwise, I continue to keep them safely?

    Now the real problem/question: There is a box (the box which was the 'Bumper Box of Christmas Cards') filled with love letters from my Uncle George to his wife - my Aunt Ida. George and Ida were first cousins and there has often been rumours of ill-feeling and opposition in the family to their 1931 marriage even though it lasted for nearly 60 years.

    I have opened the box and had a brief look - it is daunting. There are dozens of small (A5 and odd) pieces of paper covered in George's handwriting in pencil. Most seem un-dated although some seem to have addresses. The one or two I have read are very tender and loving and George was clearly head over heels about Ida. The letters don't seem to be organised and are all folded quite small. I need to read each one and pick out any important information and will want to share some of it with the family - especially their descendants.

    So, any advice as to how I approach the task, how I keep everything in order, how I then preserve them, do I transcribe them all, how do I share them, how do I make notes etc. about anything relevant/new/interesting I find?

    Any advice or experience gratefully received before I wade in .................


    Audrey

  2. #2
    Loves to help with queries Kiltpin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    The Highlands of Norfolk, England
    Posts
    168
    Thanks
    20
    Thanked 87 Times in 64 Posts

    Default

    Hello Audrey,

    For what it is worth, I transcribe everything onto a Word document. I also scan every document. After the transcription, (in a different font), I make any notes and also add in the scan to fit an A4 sheet.

    This allows me to store the original, safely, but also either print, or email all the relevant information in one hit. All digital records will, of course, have a unique file name, but organisation is the key to finding something again. All files relating to my wife's tree start with SoM and are then broken down into the person's name and then type of document and date.

    I have found that working as part of a pair, one reading and dictating and the other typing is by far and away the fastest. Once typed, I format as close to the original as possible.

    It is, I've found, a way of getting other family members interested.

    Regards

    Chas

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to Kiltpin For This Useful Post:

    AudreyF (05-06-2017)

  4. #3
    Super Moderator Ladkyis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Newport, Gwent
    Posts
    3,153
    Blog Entries
    5
    Thanks
    181
    Thanked 281 Times in 215 Posts

    Default

    I too have had the task of sorting letters from family to my parents and I too have transcribed everything into a word document. The letters from each person are saved as individual documents in a file with the person's name. I have spoken to our local Record Office/archive and I will be taking the originals plus a copy of the transcripts and probably the digital copies of the scans and the transcripts to them as soon as the last letter is completed. I will also be taking photographs of the same people to go in the collection.
    As an after-thought I intend discussing with our record office the possibility of them accepting the albums of pictures - all saved in acid free pockets and on acid free pages - I have pictures of my Dads family that go back to the 1900s and the family was quite prominent in business here so it would be of interest to social historians
    Ladkyis

    “You can’t give her that!” she screamed. “It’s not safe!”
    IT’S A SWORD, said the Hogfather. THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE SAFE.

    I am fluent in three languages, English, Sarcasm and Profanity

  5. #4
    A fountain of knowledge
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    France
    Posts
    421
    Thanks
    305
    Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts

    Default

    Another quickish glance suggests that none are dated. Some would seem to have been written before George & Ida were engaged and refer to ill feeling in the family. Some suggest they were engaged and others refer to the children they had so the time span is over quite a few years.

    Some of the paperwork is poems and song lyrics. I will try and find out if some of these are original or just copied out for George to send to his sweetheart.

    With no dates I suppose I'll just have to transcribe them one by one and hope that some order becomes clear for some of them.

    Scanning is going to be a task and a half but I take the points above that they are a 'back up' and something that can be shared easily with others.

    You've given me some good ideas ...................

  6. #5
    Loves to help with queries Kiltpin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    The Highlands of Norfolk, England
    Posts
    168
    Thanks
    20
    Thanked 87 Times in 64 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AudreyF View Post
    Some of the paperwork is poems and song lyrics.
    Try Googling the phrases. If they do turn out to be lyrics, then you will know an absolute date. The letters in question cannot have been written before the lyrics were published, or sung. Same goes for poetry.

    If you know dated of marriage and children's births, then a rough sorting might be possible.

    Regards

    Chas

  7. The Following User Says Thank You to Kiltpin For This Useful Post:

    AudreyF (05-06-2017)

  8. #6
    Knowledgeable and helpful
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    .
    Posts
    526
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked 303 Times in 182 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AudreyF View Post
    snip

    I have opened the box and had a brief look - it is daunting. There are dozens of small (A5 and odd) pieces of paper covered in George's handwriting in pencil. Most seem un-dated although some seem to have addresses. The one or two I have read are very tender and loving and George was clearly head over heels about Ida. The letters don't seem to be organised and are all folded quite small. I need to read each one and pick out any important information and will want to share some of it with the family - especially their descendants.

    So, any advice as to how I approach the task, how I keep everything in order, how I then preserve them, do I transcribe them all, how do I share them, how do I make notes etc. about anything relevant/new/interesting I find?

    Any advice or experience gratefully received before I wade in .................


    Audrey
    First and possibly most important is to open (unfold) all the folded letters where possible. As the paper looses moisture with time it will become practically impossible to unfold them.
    Once unfolded store them flat in cardboard boxes interlaced with numbered tissue paper or in numbered “mylar” pockets.

    With regards to the dating of the letters, they may have been stored in some form of order or you may be able to “date” them by either the postal address of the recipient or the sender’s address, or if you still have the envelopes the franking date.
    There may also be some clues in the content of the letters as to the date or time period they were written.

    If possible scan all the photographs, diaries and letters (including the envelopes) in colour, this is specially important in the case of pencil written pages and sheets, at a resolution of 300 to 500 DPI. If the letter is A5 scan it with its envelope as an A4 image.

    You can then make a database of notes using the above mentioned numbers to index relevant/new/interesting finds.
    A printout of the notes could also be stored with the archive.

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Guy Etchells For This Useful Post:

    AudreyF (06-06-2017), Ladkyis (06-06-2017)

+ Reply to Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Select a file: