Natural disasters: Are your family heirlooms and family keepsakes ready?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

Dan

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and earlier this year there was an article in the New Yorker that created quite a stir (you probably saw it). It was about the impending Cascadia earthquake that is likely to kill thousands and decimate regional infrastructure. The sub-headline of the article provided this chilling message: “An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.”

That’s always fun to hear, right? Especially in your own backyard.

In response, I’ve since prepared emergency supplies for my wife and I while creating a disaster preparedness plan for my immediate family living in the area. This first-level preparedness has provided me with piece of mind when it comes to survival and basic needs. Water, food, shelter. Check, check and check. Undoubtedly, these are the most important considerations when disaster strikes.

But now that I’m prepared on that surface level, let’s dig a little deeper. What is the second level of preparedness? Much like end-of-life issues, getting your house in order ranks highly. This includes compiling and organizing medical and financial issues in such a way that physical destruction doesn’t mean they disappear forever. Just because your house has been burnt, flooded or destroyed doesn’t mean your life ends.

This whole process got me thinking about what people are doing when it comes to family history and specifically family heirlooms.

If you look back at 2015, the list of natural disasters that have occurred around the world is astounding both in frequency and in severity. If you live in the American South and Midwest right now, you know all too well what I’m talking about with the historic-level flooding that is occurring. In other words, things are getting wacky, kids.

Might I suggest you to make 2016 the year you prepare yourselves for what may come? No matter where you live, being prepared can provide peace of mind. After your have addressed your basic needsfinancial and medical issues, move on to sorting and organizing your family heirlooms. Obviously, we can help with this process: use The Heirloom Registry to ID your family heirlooms offline and save their stories online in about 10 minutes. Done. Whatever system you use, start the process. You’ll be thankful you did even if you don’t ever face mother nature head on.

 

Keep track of heirlooms no matter where they end up: Give them traceable IDs!

Keep track of heirlooms no matter where they end up: Give them traceable IDs!

 

#NoMoreStuff 2015 campaign wrap-up

Another year, another #NoMoreStuff campaign.

Our fourth “No More Stuff” campaign—which officially kicked off with “White Friday,” an alternative to Black Friday—ended today. We thank everyone who supported our efforts to save their family heirloom and family keepsake stories and avoid the urge to needlessly consume! Below are a few of the tweets from campaign supporters. We’ll be back next year to continue the effort. Until then, consider the importance of honoring the items you currently own instead of reflexively buying the latest junk you probably don’t really need or truly want.
35-NoMoreStuff

 

Now, on to The Herd for this month…

“The Hearth Herd” is a roundup (or “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen recently that we feel our fellow Houstorians would be interested in. The Herd’s content will generally focus on three things: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability. If you see something that you think belongs in The Herd, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Family History

Author: Geoffrey Fowler, Wall Street Journal

Title: It’s Time to Record Our Grandparents’ History

Herd-Worthy Because: “A smartphone app from StoryCorps can bridge generations by turning anyone into a documentarian.” Man, this is getting too easy. The technology is there. It’s up to you to take a few minutes and do it.

 

Author: Vaughn Davis Bornet, History News Network

Title: This 98-Year-Old Historian’s Got Advice for You

Herd-Worthy Because: “History is largely comprised of anecdotal material. What difference does it make that you then wrote on cheap paper with an ordinary fountain pen or even a borrowed pencil.” In other words, just do it!

 

Author: Jennifer Sheehy Everett, BayStateParent

Title: 4 Ways to Discover and Preserve Your Family History

Herd-Worthy Because: “Knowledge of family history has been shown to reap surprising rewards for children. A 2001 study on the subject by Drs. Marshall P. Duke and Robyn Fivush of Emory University suggests that children who know more about their family narrative have higher self-esteem, a stronger sense of control over their lives, less anxiety, and fewer behavioral problems.” As an added bonus: researching family history is also lactose free and has that delicious taste all dogs love.

HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: Amy Chavez, @JapanLite

Title: Taking a longer view in defense of clutter

Herd-Worthy Because: “When I walk into houses that are clean and tidy — those of people who have simplified, organized and decluttered — I see a house cleansed of memories and heritage.” Amen, Amy. Amen.

 

Let us know what you think. Do you like the Houstory Herd? Do you have a problem with something we said? Do you think we are full of beans? Do you like monkeys? Talk to us!

-30-

 

The Family Curator Visits The Houstory Hearth Next Friday

Houstory is proud to welcome family heirloom and family keepsake archival expert (and good friend) Denise Levenick as a guest author next Friday, Jan. 25.

We’re honored to be the final stop on Denise’s whirlwind blog tour. To learn more, and to catch up on some of the post dates you may have missed along the way, we encourage you to read more below and to see the Blog Book Tour Page.

Denise Levenick, family curator, houstory, heirloom registry, family heirloom, family keepsake

Denise Levenick, The Family Curator

We’re looking forward to next Friday, Denise — as I’m sure all of our readers are!

– Dan and Mike

 

Organize your family history heirlooms and research in 2013

Family Curator Blog Book Tour for “How to Archive Family Keepsakes” by Denise Levenick – On Tour from Jan. 10-26

How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records will be featured in a new Blog Book Tour January 10-26, 2013. With top reviews from leading genealogy bloggers and 5-Star Ratings on Amazon.com, this new resource by Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, will help you organize and preserve your family history heirlooms and research in 2013.

Visit 14 popular genealogy blogs and websites featuring Denise and How to Archive Family Keepsakes for book excerpts, interviews, special guest posts, free downloads, and giveaways.  View the schedule at the Blog Book Tour Page.

Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, Houstory, Heirloom Registry, family history, family heirlooms, family keepsakes

How to Archive Family Keepsakes offers practical guidance for family historians:

  • Helping a parent or loved one downsize to a smaller home
  • Needing a simple, effective filing system for genealogy research
  • Interested in scanning and making digital copies of genealogy records
  • Looking for a way to preserve your family history and heirlooms for future generations

Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

About the Author

Denise Levenick lives in Southern California and inherited her love of family history along with a trunk filled with family treasures from her maternal grandmother. She is now the caretaker of several family collections and has adapted professional archival techniques to organize and preserve family keepsakes for a home situation. She is a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine and speaks to genealogy societies and service groups about preserving family treasures. Denise created The Family Curator blog in 2007 where she continues to write about her own family history research and preserving family keepsakes.

Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website for the complete schedule.

How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012) ISBN 1440322236

Paperback from Family Tree Books, Amazon.com; PDF eBook from Scribd

10% Savings Coupon ShopFamilyTree.


 

Rowhouse Tour: ‘Four Homes for the Holidays’

This week, The Houstory Hearth welcomes a holiday-themed guest post from DIY Del Ray.

Houstory, DIY Del Ray, holiday, homes, holiday homes, houses, holiday houses

Photo courtesy of DIY Del Ray

According to their Web site: “DIY Del Ray, a blog founded by Leslie, Katie and Sara, celebrates the art of small-space living and the creative spirit. We talk about interior design, unique storage solutions, living with kids, home improvement and craft projects, entertaining, and all the charming features of Del Ray, a neighborhood in Alexandria, VA.”

We first came across the blog a few weeks ago, when we found this great story they penned on using family heirlooms to tell your family’s story.

This week, DIY Del Ray takes a peak inside four, holiday-decorated rowhouses in the Del Ray community, and we wanted you all to come along. It’s title: “Four Homes for the Holidays.

“Living on a street of typical 1950s identical rowhouses, it’s always interesting to see how people decorate the inside of their homes — their paint choices, furniture arrangements and at this time of year, how they decorate for the holidays,” they write. “There isn’t much wiggle room in these houses – every last inch serves a purpose for something – but that hasn’t quelled the festiveness or desire to create a warm and cozy haven at home.”

To take the tour, read on. Thank you to DIY Del Ray for sharing your story with Houstory. Speaking of Houstory, Mike and Dan wish all of our readers a happy and safe holiday!

 

Do you use any holiday heirlooms to decorate your home? Do you decorate your home in a unique way? Share your photos at our Facebook page — we’d love to see them!

Houstory, DIY Del Ray, holiday, homes, holiday homes, houses, holiday houses

Photo courtesy of DIY Del Ray

Happy Birthday Houstory Publishing!
Our first year in photos

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

I was talking with a friend the other day about our business, Houstory Publishing. As we were chatting, a couple of things dawned on me during the conversation: (1) Houstory was about to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the “official” launch of our business  (more on that later), and; (2) Just how fortunate I have been to be able to follow my dream with my best friend — who also happens to be my big brother and Houstory founder, Mike.

family heirloom, family keepsakes, provenances, family stories, family heirlooms, heirloom registry, houstory publishing, house history, home history book, family history, genealogy, mike hiestand, dan hiestand

Mike and Dan Hiestand, taking a break while attending the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree this past June.

Okay, before you break out the tissue and think this is a, “Hallmark moment,” it’s not. I sincerely mean what I write. I just genuinely like the guy. What can I say? When we first started the company way back in 2007 (wow, starting a business takes ages!), and I heard his idea for the Home History Book archival journal, I was hooked right away. A couple of years later, when he came up with The Heirloom Registry concept (yes, I didn’t come up with that idea, either, darn it!), again I became a believer. A big believer.

Essentially, our roles are these: He is the visionary. I am the implementer. This arrangement has actually turned out to be a great match. You never know what it’s like working with a best friend or a family member until you do it. That’s not to say it hasn’t been an at-times stressful year, or an experience  filled with steep learning curves and unforeseen circumstances. But, looking back at how far we’ve come, it feels darn good to know we made the right decision.

We have wanted to go into a family-style business for as long as I can remember — ideally with our three other brothers in the mix as well — and we floated many ideas around (remember the bagel shop, Mike?) before we hit the jackpot with Houstory. It just felt right. And it still feels right today, more than ever. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, we are going to be rolling out some big announcements which we are very excited about.

Much of our success, we owe to you, our supporters and customers. We really couldn’t have made it this far without your help, so thank you! We hope you stay with us for the ride. We think its only going to get better.

And finally, thank you Tasi and Patty, — our understanding, courageous and supportive wives — as well as Mike’s daughters, Jessica and Ally. We love you all very much!

After more than four years working on weekends and weeknights to turn our “dream” into real-life products that we’d be proud to stand behind,  we “officially” opened for business on Oct. 18, 2011, when we launched our social media. Below is a look at some of the highlights from that time until now. It’s been a very busy but exciting year!

After a year in business, I believe in two things more than ever: historical preservation, and conservation. What we do is steeped in these concepts. My belief is this: The more people know about something, whether a house or a family heirloom, the more likely they will take care of it. This means both the priceless stories and histories, as well as the physical materials, won’t just be discarded with trash. These are the things that drive me. Let us know what you think, and thank you again!

 

The Heirloom Registry: A Gift from Grandpa

The grandfather clock that inspired The Heirloom Registry

By Mike Hiestand, Houstory Founder

Between 2006-09, I was presented with two gifts that would change my life.

The first was the simple, but now seemingly “obvious” idea for the Home History Book.

A “baby book for the home,” we call it in our elevator speech. An archival-quality book that tells the story of how a house becomes a home, written and shared by those who have lived there. A book that belongs to and is supposed to stay with the home.

It was, I think, what Oprah would call an “Aha moment”: An experience of quiet clarity, seemingly from out of the blue, that — if you are open to it — you cannot ignore.

I don’t know for sure from where that idea came. It was, however, a profound, even magical moment that I knew was life-altering as soon as it entered my consciousness.

The second gift came a couple years later: The idea for The Heirloom Registry. And for this one, I know exactly who to thank: It was a gift from my grandpa.

I grew up a military brat. My dad was career Air Force. There are lots of pluses to growing up a military kid. I got to experience lots of different places and lots of different people living in lots of different ways. But there are also some downsides: mainly, your “home” changes every 1-4 years.

It was the lack of permanence that probably explains the particularly strong attachment I had to my grandparents’ homes. They didn’t move. Their homes stayed the same. The look, the feel, the unique smell — those were soothingly constant during my childhood.

My paternal grandparents lived in the seaside town of Astoria, Oregon. Their home, like many in town, was high on the hill overlooking the Columbia River. As we ate breakfast, we would look out the window and watch cargo ships, fresh from the Pacific Ocean, tie up before venturing further inland to Portland or being piloted back out to sea.

It was an older home, whose windows were filled with ripply glass and whose floors creaked in all the right places.

The author (bottom left), brothers, mom and grandparents, John and Mildred Hiestand, in Astoria, Oregon. (c. 1970)

My grandparents were fairly old, and while we certainly felt welcomed, it wasn’t — simply because it wasn’t — a home made for kids, and particularly not young boys. Certainly not for five young boys — my four younger brothers and I — who visited for a week every summer or so. So we spent most of our time outside. Or reading.

Fortunately, I loved to read. Even more than I loved to play, truth be told. So I’d often have the living room to myself during the day while my brothers hit the nearby park or late at night, after they were made to go to bed earlier than I. And that’s where I got to know — and love — the clock.

The clock is a beautiful, noble grandfather clock, built in the late 1800’s. It truly is grand. No-frills, other than the movement of the simple moon dial at its crown. It rings on the hour. It doesn’t play around with fifteen-minute or even half-hour increments. The sound is bold and deep. You can feel it. It sat in the corner of the living room, next to their one TV (that I remember was almost never on) and across from the sofa, my usual spot.

I remember watching my grandpa wind it. Slowly. My grandpa was a retired mechanics shop teacher. He knew his way around metal parts. You never wanted to turn the key all the way, he would say. So he’d feel the spring tightening up and stop just so. Before closing the cabinet, he’d reach down into the bottom of the clock where he’d pull out a small tin in which he kept a rag soaked in kerosene. The kerosene vapors, he said, provided just the right amount of lubricant for the clock’s gears.

I don’t recall his ever adjusting the hands on the clock. Over the years, he’d obviously found the “sweet spot” on the pendulum adjustment; the clock kept perfect time. It still does.

I don’t remember when I first noticed the piece of paper tacked inside, in the back and out of view except for when the cabinet was open.

The only known photograph of the Astoria, Oregon, living room where the clock resided for many years. (The photo was taken from about the vantage point of the clock.)

Note inspiring The Heirloom Registry

Note tacked inside clock’s cabinet and written by author’s grandpa providing history of the clock

On it, in my grandpa’s writing, was the story of the clock. The clock, it said, was a wedding gift for his mother given by her father (my great grandmother and great-great grandfather, respectively). They lived in York, Pennsylvania, and the clock, the note said, was purchased from the “John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the late 1880s’….”

My grandpa died in 1983. And the clock has been at my parent’s home in Washington State since the mid-1980s. Which is where I was, during a 4th of July get-together in 2009, and where I was with the clock again, by myself, when the idea for The Heirloom Registry was given to me. Once again in true “Aha” fashion, compliments — whether “real” or simply because of all that he did creating that precise moment — of my grandpa.

Of this I have no doubt.

The clock will always be a beautiful clock. But it is the story of the clock — an ongoing story — that makes the clock what it is. If my grandpa’s now somewhat crackled piece of paper were ever lost, and if those of us with memories of its history were not around, it would no longer be the same clock. It would just be a beautiful clock, perhaps in a great grandchild’s home — or for sale in an antique store.

I didn’t want that to happen. Neither did my grandpa. And I knew we weren’t alone. Everyone has a clock or a table or a mirror or a photo or painting or special book or quilt or something — sometimes old and passed down through the family, sometimes not so old. Sometimes expensive and sometimes not worth a nickel on eBay — but whose story makes it irreplaceable. A story that makes it unique in all the world. A story that should never be lost.

The Heirloom Registry makes sure that won’t happen.

So thanks grandpa. You wanted our clock’s story told. And now it always will be. Along with many, many others.

 

Mike Hiestand is the president and founder of Houstory Publishing.

The Heirloom Registry Presents: ‘A Three-Minute Love Story’

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

I’m not going to write a whole lot this week. I’ll let the video do the talking.

Special thanks to Angela Compton  (www.comptondesign.com), a great friend of nearly three decades and an incredibly talented artist who helped the little family and table come to life; and Matt Read (www.mattreadfilm.com), a gifted producer who tied it all together. Mike and I truly appreciate your hard work, and your willingness to put up with our nit-pickiness (is that even a word?)

The story follows the life of the table, from its discovery in a shop to becoming a family heirloom that is deeply loved.

We hope this is the start of something bigger than us. Save your legacy now. Your kids and grandkids will thank you later.

And please, if you believe in what my brother and I are attempting to accomplish — pass this video on to loved ones, both friends and family. We’d appreciate it, and we believe they will, too. Enjoy!

PHOTOS: The Heirloom Registry spends a Saturday outside an Antiques Roadshow event

The Seattle Times estimated that 6,000 people attended the Antiques Roadshow event on Saturday in Seattle. During the day, representatives of the Heirloom Registry spoke with several hundred of them about their family heirlooms and family keepsakes— and the stories behind them — as the lucky ticketholders to the event made their way to and from the Washington State Convention Center.

Heirloom Registry friends and family members drove about two hours south from company headquarters in Ferndale, Wash., to help pass out free registry stickers and let attendees know a little about how The Heirloom Registry works.

Below are a few photos of their visit. To read the entire story, see The Heirloom Registry’s latest press release.

heirloom registry, antiques roadshow, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family heirlooms, family keepsakes, provenances, family stories

Houstory Publishing President Mike Hiestand with Maggie McLaurin, Jessica Hiestand and Gabby Hall, outside the Antiques Roadshow event at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

heirloom registry, antiques roadshow, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family heirlooms, family keepsakes, provenances, family stories

Maggie McLaurin passes out Heirloom Registry samples to those outside the Antiques Roadshow in Seattle.

Jessica Hiestand talking with attendees of the Antiques Roadshow outside the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle on Saturday.

Patty Hiestand (left) and Maggie McLaurin (right) distributing samples of The Heirloom Registry to attendees outside the Antiques Roadshow appraisal event, which was in downtown Seattle on Saturday.

heirloom registry, antiques roadshow, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family heirlooms, family keepsakes, provenances, family stories

Attendees of the Antiques Roadshow leaving the Washington State Convention Center on Saturday.