August 22, 2018
This “archive project” has been going on a very long time. I first started collecting the interesting papers and documents in about in 1969, the year my Grandma Dell (my father’s mother) died. For some reason I thought all those silly old papers were important. I wanted to get to know those people.
At that time, I didn’t know anything about acid-free paper, the dangers of self-stick scrap books (luckily I didn’t use any), and why newspapers turned yellow and crumbled away. In the ensuing almost-50 years, not only have I have learned a great deal, but the technology for preserving old documents has improved and become much more widely available.
Before we went on the road in August, 2015, Jere and I photographed or scanned nearly every piece of paper and picture I had collected. All the originals were put into archival boxes and with least some order to them. Everything went into safe storage while we were traveling. My plan had been to work on organizing the digital versions and to work from them while we were on the road – a 240 square foot home-on-wheels isn’t conducive to storing an archive!
Now that we have a place that’s large enough to keep everything, I collected everything together. My sister, Jonellen, who also recently moved to the Seattle area, has been giving me the documents and pictures that she had, so all the family items will be in one place. Those have yet to be digitized and correctly archived. It’s currently in our living room, awaiting a permanent location in our bonus room (which is undergoing renovations).
The image above is my current working table. Actually, it’s a door resting on 6 storage bins (3 on each side) full of more archive stuff. The boxes and file containers are all made of special acid-free, buffered, micro-impregnated cardboard which not only helps protect the documents, it also actively battles the chemicals that can harm the documents over time. Shown in the image on the table are boxes of photographs, file boxes of documents, covered books, and other items. The partially covered up framed picture on the left is a picture of my mother from about 1915.
The contents of this blog (so far) are in the open file box on the right. To date only about 1/5 of what’s in the box has been published. I will keep working on it.
In the corner next to the fireplace are “the trunk” and “the boat”. These are both relative to my father’s side of the family (the Chandlers). The boat was built by my Grandfather, Charles Chandler, Sr. Trying to understand the story of his love for the sea and his instead getting married and settling down on land was the first thing that inspired me to try to find out who these people were.
The trunk came from Grandma Dell (my father’s mother, Della (Denning) Chandler) who inherited it from her Aunt Ida (Ida Powell Fenton). It’s an amazing old steamer trunk, with hangers and drawers and filled with bits and pieces from her life. She was a concert pianist around 1900 and traveled all over the United States. A story for another day.
Finally, in the other corner of the room are the rest of the boxes and items. The yellow hard hat was my father’s, from his time at Bechtel Corporation (from which he retired in 1976). The other hat is a beaver hat that belonged to my Grandpa Charlie (Charles Chandler, Sr), who passed away in 1965 – over 50 years ago. The lighter colored box, just above the hats, is Della’s wedding dress (from 1908). Her wedding stockings and gloves, along with Charlies tie, are in the trunk.
The tall wrapped item is a rolled quilt, probably made in around 1880, by someone on my Grandma Dell’s side of the family. In the various boxes are scrapbooks, hundreds (maybe thousands) of slides–photographs my father took over the years–a coin collection, several quilts, my wedding dress from 1978, several heirloom dishes, some silver, drawings from quite a few family members, and a lot more.
So, that’s where it stands. I have a lot of work ahead of me!