Mannon says that many people have a desire to care for their family collections, but do not know where to begin. She offers tips for thinking about your materials, whether you just want to get started or if you want a comprehensive plan for creating a family archive. The strength of her latest book is in how it offers various options to accommodate the unofficial family archivist who unexpectedly receives a box of papers from an ancestor or to help the serious family historian who wishes to keep a collection that aims for professional standards.
Mannon plans to read from her book. She will also introduce some of the concepts she has taught in a traveling program she delivers to public libraries. Her “Preserving Memories” class began shortly after she started her own archives and cultural heritage consulting business. “I had worked for about seven years as a public library archivist and reference librarian. Libraries were a natural place for me to first take my talks. ‘Preserving Memories’ invites attendees to bring along a family object to discuss the best way to care for it.” Mannon has also given her talks at senior centers, museums, and professional conferences.
Her new book goes beyond a focus on preservation. On her newest tour, she encourages her audience to think about their items in a larger context. “I want to help people ensure that their materials last for a long time, but I also want to help them to realize that their family stories have significance to a larger cultural heritage. Mannon’s book discusses ways to record stories that have not previously been documented. “I want to help people explore creative ways to pass on their family history. Not everyone is a writer or wants to be one. People can make quilts, videotape dinner table conversations, or make collages, if that will best motivate them to get stories out of their heads and recorded.
“Our family items have personal sentimental and informational value, but they are also important as pieces of a larger community history. One of my favorite things about speaking to a group is hearing the stories audience members want to share about their personal things.” Those attending book signings for the Unofficial Family Archivist are invited to bring family history items about which they have questions.
The Unofficial Family Archivist is now available through Amazon.com and select local bookstores.
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ArchivesInfo encourages cultural heritage organizations to work collaboratively with local governments, businesses, and individuals who keep records in order to identify archives and plan for their care.