How to Maintain a Family Scrapbook and Create a Family Archive

by MichelleR on July 2, 2012

Over the years we collect hundreds of photos and it can be hard when photos stack up and we don’t know where to start with organizing them. We want to keep items such as a wedding dress or important documents all together to pass down to family members, here are some steps to help you start creating a family archive.
Step 1:

Go through all your photos and take out all the ones you don’t want, such as pictures of mountains and flowers. You can label them if you want and put them into a separate box if you don’t want to throw them away.

Step 2:

Establish a guideline for how you would like to maintain your photos, through an online website, a photo album or labeled card boxes.

Step 3:

Start to label the photos you do want to keep, remember to add names and dates, even if it is just the year. Your family archive might have labels for:
• Each person
• Eras (1960, 1970, 1980)
• Events (vacations, birthdays, graduations)
• Activities (schools, jobs, organizations)
• Collectibles (stamps, baseball cards, artworks)
• Financial documents (such as mortgage, investment and retirement documents, insurance policies, bills or financial documents)
• Personal documents (such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, passport and/or immigration documents, medical information, wills and other legal documents)

Step 4: How to start arranging photos.

Create a structure that works for you, either by event or person, try to create a natural grouping order. From there you can map out priorities of categories and subcategories.

Step 5: Establishing an Archive.
Like any collection in a museum it determines what kind of items to be added to the archive in the future and what kinds of items won’t be accepted. So questions to ask about your archive are: What is my collection missing? Which parts of my collection are complete as they are for the present? What new additions could help me reach my goals?

Frequently asked questions:
What can I do with my old family films, super 8 movies or slides?
You can hire a professional. In the Palo Alto area, Keeble and Shuchat Photography will be able to digitalize your old films.
1. How do I decide what not to keep?
Deciding on what to keep is done in stages. Asking family members what they would like to keep can also help you decide.

2. What is the difference between creating a family archive and scrapbooking?
Creating a scrapbook is more of a creative process full of photos and decorations around one particular event, where as an archive is preserving your family memories with a high quality of materials.

3. Can I repair damaged photos?
Yes, you can take photos to a local professional photo shop. No matter how damaged it is, there is someone who can repair it.

4. What other materials can I put in a family archive?
You can include; birth certificates, wedding dress, uniforms and other documents. You can also use your archive to trace your genealogy so whatever you believe will help others trace their history back to you, would be included.
For more information please visit

Previous post:

Next post: