It is not possible to preserve every piece of paper we have. Sometimes it not even possible to preserve or pass on every piece of paper we have from our parents or grandparents. The piles and files may be overwhelming and those that come after us may have no interest in documenting every receipt that Grandpa kept during his life time.

Consider scanning the paper items and letting the originals go in some cases. Do you need to keep every physical check your Grandfather wrote? Do you need ever receipt Grandma kept for craft supplies or having the television repaired? It might not even be worth your time to scan or digitize these items.

Or it might be.

That’s really your decision. But consider whether those who come after you will want all the originals. That’s not to say that everything should be thrown out. I have the cancelled checks my grandfather wrote to pay the hospital bill when my father was born and when my grandmother fell through the attic and hit her hip on the bureau in the bedroom (the memo says: “Ida-hip.”). But I can’t keep them all. Digitizing them all perhaps and annotating them where I can is one thing, but physically keeping each piece of paper may not be practical.

Prioritize. Sometimes when we try and save everything, we end up saving nothing.



One response

  1. I think deciding on a guiding principle as to what is saved is important. We can’t predict what a future generation might or might not want, but if we have a reason behind our own choices, it makes the culling simpler.
    Perhaps label folders or digital records according to that principle – ex.: provenance of Grandfather’s Stradivarius… lol
    Personally I like saving paper records that verify or expand the family story. Your grandmother’s attic fall account is such imo. The local newspaper account of a tornado that swept through a town my nana lived in, attached to her first hand account of the same event is again imo worth saving. Every school report card or kindergarten drawing -not…

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