Service links ‘orphaned heirlooms’ in antique stores with families who cherish them

Just for a moment, think about all the items (and potential family heirlooms) that could be floating around out there that may have something to do with your family. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all donated things to the local Goodwill or sold items on the lawn during a Saturday morning garage sale, so your presence is likely out there in some capacity.

I’m guessing these items were distributed with some degree of thought and didn’t hold a particularly lofty status in your collection of belongings. What about your parents, though? Or your grandparents? Or your great, great grandparents? How can you be sure they took the same care you did when you were downsizing? (You did take care, right? Of course you did!)

What if Grandpa gave away that  early 1900s family photo? What if your aunt decided the only copy of the 1958 yearbook your father appeared in wasn’t worth holding on to? How do you get those items back?

justajoy, heirlooms

Joy Shivar, founder of with Dan Hiestand of Houstory at FGS 2012 in Birmingham, Ala.

Enter Family Heirloom Exchange.

Joy Shivar is the owner of the company, and is a frequent vendor at family history, genealogy, and antique shows around the country. I first met her during the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June 2012, and re-connected with her at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference last fall. Joy’s service is a valuable one for those who seek to add texture to their family trees.

According to her Web site, Family Heirloom Exchange is the link between “orphaned heirlooms” in the hands of antique dealers (and collectors) and the families who would cherish them. The service is $20 per year, and includes:

* Complete information about thousands of family-related items listed by quality antique dealers associated with nearly 50,000 families

* E-mail alerts when new items are added related to your  family  (Up to 20 surnames)

* Members can list, buy and sell for free

* No buyer’s premiums, commissions, listing fees or final value fees.

* Sold items remain on the site for research purposes.  No charge for  printing pictures or documents.  (Individual researchers only. Commercial applications are protected by copyright.)

For more information, check out the video below. Have you ever used Joy’s service or anything like it to find family heirlooms? Do you see any value in a service like this? Let us know what you think!

Instant heirloom: A heartfelt Mother’s Day gift

Mother's Day 2013. Jessica, Gerri and Ally Hiestand.

Mother’s Day 2013.

By Mike Hiestand, Houstory Founder 

One of the things we hear from folks when we tell them about The Heirloom Registry is, “But, I don’t have any heirlooms.”

It’s unfortunate that we had to attach a name to our registration service, but we did. And “The Heirloom Registry” just sounded catchier than “The Special Things in My Life Registry.”

But either would work. It’s not the age of an item that makes it an heirloom. It’s the story behind it.

The Heirloom Registry is simply a place to record the stories about the special things in your life. Those things can be old — or brand new. The key is that they have a story that gives them meaning. The Heirloom Registry simply ensures that story will always be easily accessible.

For Mother’s Day, my daughters created and gave their grandma a hand-painted hanging mobile. Of course, my mom absolutely loved it. An instant heirloom! By affixing a small tag and registering it, I was able to briefly tell its story and attach a couple photos (there is room for up to six) of my daughter painting it and presenting it to my mom on Sunday. It took 10 minutes. But now, if my mom would like to show it off to her friends tomorrow — or if my daughter inherits it 50 years from when she’s the grandma who “fills the world with joy”  — the story of how it came to be and the memories of a very special day are as close as the nearest computer.

It is an official, irreplaceable part of Hiestand Family History

An example of the Certificate of Registration — which users can view or print for free after registering an item on The Heirloom Registry — is below.


Registration Certificate from The Heirloom Registry

Registration Certificate from The Heirloom Registry