How To Store Family History: Our Step By Step Guide

Alivia Whitaker | September 24, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

Are you interested in genealogy but don't know how to store family history items?  Never fear - Keylock Storage has your step by step guide!

How To Store Family History: What To Keep What To Get Rid Of

The first how to in how to store family history is deciding what you actually need to keep.  Not every paper is important but specific types of documents are vital to preserving family history.  Things like old receipts, newspapers that have nothing to do with family, and other similar documents are not necessary to keep and store.  However, any document listing family members, dates, genealogical health information, or documents that could place an ancestor at a specific place in time are so important in storing family history. did an overview of what documents are most vital and valuable to historians. They said,

"The most important documents for genealogists are:

  • Vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates)
  • Religious records
  • Cemetery records
  • Census forms
  • Citizenship papers
  • Passenger ship lists
  • Military records
  • Other records like school records, deeds, and wills

You'll want to track down these records because they often have information that no one remembers. A copy of your grandmother's birth certificate, for example, might tell you about her parents? your great-grandparents? that grandma herself has forgotten. A copy of a long-gone ancestor's marriage license may hold clues to relatives even further back."

How To Store Family History: Old Documents

Now that you've determined what to store the next stop is the know-how in how to store family history.  Specifically - old documents.   Not all documents are created equal and some are more fragile than others.  You don't want to lose vital family history information because you've improperly handled a document.  Never fear - Keylock Storage provided an excellent guide detailing how to store and handle old documents.  They said,

"Sensitive and old documents come in many varieties. Whether you are purchasing and collecting high-value documents or storing family heirloom documents such as old family photos, your ancestor’s old passport or want to keep your own personal documents safe and secure – self-storage is a great option for this. Document storage is special and has a list of steps for proper care.  Follow these sensitive document storage tips:

  • Climate control is a necessity for old and sensitive documents. Heat and cold can destroy, fade, or degrade documents very quickly.  Proper document storage almost assuredly needs to be in a climate-controlled unit.
  • One of the best moves you can make to keep your documents safe is to get a specialty filing cabinet. These often can be found for very reasonable prices. What you want to look for is a case that can be locked, is air-tight and keeps moisture out and is also fireproof and waterproof.
  • Clearly label everything and leave walkways through cabinets.
  • Cover cabinets with dust covers to avoid any elements seeping into the cabinets.
  • Lift boxes and filing cabinets off the floor and place on basic pallets or another floor barrier.
  • A great idea is to keep a dossier or log about what documents are stored in the unit and where. This will save you from flipping through dozens of single pages looking for the one you want.
  • Use stiff dividers to keep documents from molding together or damaging each other.
  • INSURE your items when storing documents.  Personal storage insurance is an easy and affordable way to protect the value of your precious items.  It is the smart thing to do.  You can find information about this with the local manager or on

How To Store Family History: Old Books

Books can be a valuable find when dealing with genealogy.  If you want to know how to store family history you have to know how to store old books.  Family History books can include photo albums, scrapbooks, memoirs, journals, life histories and more. But just like with old documents, you need to know how to handle and preserve old books.  Keylock Storage gave an expert guide on this subject as well.  They detailed, 

"Antique and rare books are some of the most popular collector’s items in the market. However, they are also some of the most fragile. To maximize your value with rare books, follow these guidelines for rare book care and storing antique books: 

  • Store away from rust, mildew, moisture, and dust
  • Keep books well ventilated and properly separated, ensuring there is enough space between each book
  • Storing antique books happens most successfully when they are in a place with low light, low humidity, even temperatures (between 60 and 70 degrees) and with little to no moisture.
  • A good tip on arranging books is to place them together by size.  Doing so allows them to stay together better and avoids books from toppling over.
  • The most fragile and rare books should be kept in special storage cases that are acid-free
  • Do not store books directly against an outdoor wall where dampness may creep in
  • Store books in a clean place with an even temperature - to aid in this, cover all windows with adequate blinds or shades.
  • Store books in a place and in a way, that allows plenty of air to circulate between the books.
  • Don't fall for the idea that basements, attics, and other home storage areas are good for antique book storage.  These places are some of the most ideal scenarios for mold and mildew to appear and are even susceptible to flooding and rot.
  • Take time to place books in a flat position that are wider than 3 inches or taller than 18 inches.  Books larger than this are likely to fall.
  • When you go to move and grab books don't go for the natural move by pulling an antique book out by the spine.  This can cause damage to rare books so make sure you handle them extra carefully."

We hope this how to store family history guide will be helpful to you in preserving your own family genealogy!

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