Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Do Genealogists Need to be More Like Curators?
Thomas MacEntee mentioned it in his post "It's Not Easy Being Abundant" where he says,
"...a hoarder gathers somewhat indiscriminately with little purpose besides gathering and possessing. A curator gathers that which adds value."
After that I found a follow-up post by Randall Dickerson called Hoarder or Curator? Randall further defines the difference between hoarder and curator, "To me, the definition of curator implies a person who gathers and keeps items of intrinsic value, both to themselves and others. A hoarder gathers anything they think “may” have value, regardless of what others think (i.e. no peer review)."
These two posts really got me thinking about all the items that I have collected over the years as the family historian. I have my mother's genealogy research, as well as newspapers clippings and other paper documents. In addition I have been given many books, heirlooms, photo albums and ephemera.
I have collected all these items but never cataloged them. As genealogists we are focused on finding the paper trail of documents that lead us from one generation to the next. We do a good job, or try to, of organizing, storing and documenting the papers.
Some items I have, such as family Bibles, have been documented because they contain specific information related to family history. Outside of that the individual Bibles are not cataloged or organized in any specific way. In fact, they are boxed and just sort of squeezed into any spare space possible.
My mother, in addition to being a genealogist, collected antiques. She numbered her collection and maintained a paper list of the items with their description, number and value. I presume she cataloged as she went. I'm not sure why her cataloging efficiency didn't rub off on me.
How is it that after years of indiscriminately accepting and collecting family-related items that I have never thought to catalog them? Wouldn't it be great if I had a list of each item, what type of item it is, how old it is, where it came from and where it is currently located?
I'm not going to add this to my already long to-do list for 2012 but I am going to start thinking about how to organize what I have and search for systems that I can use to keep track of it.
Tell me I'm not the only one who has randomly collected family-related items and never thought to organize them! Someone else must be in the same boat as me, right?!
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 3:38 PM