Way back when I was in graduate school, one of my classes received special permission (these were adult, grad-level, LIBRARY students, mind you) to go on a backlot tour of the university's archival department. Riveting, I know. But truly, this place was legit, man. I mean, if you were an old piece of paper, THIS is where you would want to spend your twilight years. Designed with an uber-elaborate organizational system, there were movable walls of filing cabinets, and highly sensitive temperature/security alarms, and nobody - NOBODY - touched the goods unless they were wearing protective gloves. Even the type of lighting they used was a big deal because of exposure to the papers. Everything was kept absolutely sterile. One of the archivists explained that because of the university's prestige, many alumni and residents around the state actually will their personal libraries, journals, and correspondence to the university in the event of their death. Though there is a highly structured set of guidelines for what is accepted and how it is stored, used, and accessed, this librarian also told our class that these papers as well as countless other library archives were constantly accessed by people conducting personal geneological research.
I think sometimes that it would be kind of fun to have nothing to do but track down the stories of your ancestors. And then also...my people would agree that every last one of us is cray to the zay! My Papaw told lots of stories about chicken thieves and such, although he was known to spin a yarn or two around some vague morsel of truth. Maybe some things are better left undiscovered, methinks.
But back to the archival library...
Please, allow me to introduce Team Wilson's Guide to Archiving Your Family History. It involves two components:
1) your washing machine, and
Neither The Captain nor I can precisely remember when it started. My best guess is that I was pulling off "I Voted" stickers after Election Day one year, and it got stuck on the washing machine instead of being thrown in the trash. So then maybe we added more "I Voted" stickers the next time we exercised our vot-atious rights. And then perhaps we thought it was a little kitsch, and way funner than getting tattoos for every milestone in our life, and suddenly our washer was this Very Important Thing...it was our family's archives department. We may not have had an elaborate organizational system, and if a sticker peeled up, The Captain would just stick another one on top of it or, #redneck, he would patch it with some duct tape. If getting a sticker at an event or place was an option, we had to have it, for the washing machine!
Okay, I do realize it sounds silly when you say it out loud. But that machine, man. It evolved into this epic saga of our life!
And then, as you might anticipate from a home appliance, after well over a decade of faithful service, it started falling apart. Literally. Her kibbles and bits were okay, but there was this weird walky-thing it would do sometimes when I ran a load of towels. Rust flakes would rain down into the pit whenever you opened or closed the top. The lid itself had decided a while back that nah, it wasn't into that whole "closing" thing anymore. So you had to climb up on top of the thing and force it to snap down in straight, just to get a load to start. And even when you did get that going, it was super lazy. Sometimes the clothes wouldn't even be wrung out all that well. We stuck with her for way longer than we should have, because, well, A) Have you priced washing machines lately? and B) the stickers!
Eventually we had enough, though, and history or not, kicked that thang to the curb. Praise the sweet Lord for tax refunds and all these cute little deductions, because without that we would be still be picking rust flakes out of our jammies.