Saving legacies: How to document the stories behind your family heirlooms

Last month, Houstory® Publishing, creator of the The Heirloom Registry™,  was an exhibitor at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.

While there, we were fortunate to meet lots of folks who were passionate about the importance — and joy — of discovering, preserving and sharing family stories. Additionally, after reading their blogs and listening to their podcasts, it was fun to meet genealogy “powerhouses” such as Thomas MacEntee, Lisa Louise Cooke, Caroline Pointer, Drew Smith and George G. Morgan, among others.

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Another name on that list is Denise May Levenick, also known as The Family Curator. We met Denise while behind our booth at the show, and we’re glad we did!

Denise is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012) and creator of The Family Curator blog, voted one of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs in 2010 and 2011 by readers of Family Tree Magazine.

Recently, she penned a fantastic article for Family Tree Magazine — where she is a frequent contributor — about keeping family heirlooms’ legacies from getting lost by documenting the stories of their pasts. Obviously, as creators of The Heirloom Registry™, this idea resonated deeply.

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In the piece, she gives simple, clear steps on how to do this — and even provides an example of what a finished provenance, or heirloom history, might look like. She calls these stories, “Treasure Tales.”

“Unlike letters or documents with names, dates and places, family artifacts are often left unlabeled and their histories get lost,” Denise wrote. “Without a past, that treasure and its untold history may be tossed out. Time you spend today to identify and record the history of your treasures will give them a better chance to survive into tomorrow.”

Obviously, if you have a passion for historical preservation, the power of story and conservation, we encourage you to follow The Family Curator. She may help you — and future generations in your family — view your precious belongings as far more than just “stuff.”


    1. HI Jim: That sounds like an interesting project! Thanks for sharing, and the nice welcome to the community. Where did you get the photo album from? I looked on your site, but I didn’t find that info.

      Dan Hiestand

      1. Hi Tammy,

        There’s some information about this on my first photo posting Photo Genealogy.

        The photo album was in posession of someone who worked at a museum near Philadelphia. She was looking for a direct descendant. There was an inscription which said “Presented to Miss Mary Mary Fryher by Mr. Jos. C Sanders September 24 1884 New Britain, Conn.”. A digital image of this inscription is in the above link. I had left some postings looking for family Fryher-Sanders from New Britain, Conn. She saw my post. We exchanged e-mails and I turned out to be a direct descendant.

        Regards, Jim

    1. Thanks Tammie! Glad to be a part of the community. 🙂 I appreciate the comment, and the nice feedback. What is the name of your blog, and do you have a link to it you could share?

  1. Thanks so much for the lovely shout-out! I enjoyed meeting the House Brothers(!) and hearing about your great projects. I especially like your Home History Book for preserving and documenting memories of a house or building. We have a new homeowner in our family and I’m thinking it would be a perfect house warming gift. Now I just have to pull together some time for the research.