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Through a relative on my husbands side I have inherited a small suitcase of fabulous original documents, war medals, photos (many with names, locations and dates written on the back) and memorabilia dating back to mid 1800's. The line has died out and there are no direct decendants. I have two grown up children that have no interest in their own family history let alone great uncle and his ancestors. My question is, would you organise and catalogue all the items and put together a family tree, and then donate - but to who? Has anyone else been passed something like this? Its sad that there is no one to pass all this history on to. I find it fascinating to glimpse into a life so long ago but fear it may all end up in a skip when I die unless I do something with it. Any ideas?
Hi Claire, what a shame. I assume you have exhausted all other relatives, ie your husband's cousins.
If so you are unlikely to find a family member who wants it. Therefore I wonder about museum/ family history society.
Is there any document or item of more general historical interest? Eg, assuming Sheffield , cutlery or tools . In terms of pictures how about buildings of interest. Any special historical legal documents?
Clearly a job could be done on the medals, and of course they have a market value so you should be careful who you give those to, or even not to advertise details too widely.
How much of the family history do you already know?
If there is no other interest, please let me know some clues of he family name and I will take a look if anything jumps out. It would be a shame to split it up, but we should be careful that it does not go to someone who would simply want to make monetary gain from it.
Many thanks for your reply Dave. Sadly this family are not from Sheffield but I have been helped so much in the past with my own family history research from this forum, I thought I would ask for advice. They are from Surrey originally. I was thinking about a military museum for the medals but I dont think they were all in the same regiment, no medals have come through my own family history so haven't a clue what any of them are. At least one of the boys was in the Royal Marines, I have the original certificate of service. I understand that one of the siblings (girl) was a stage artist, a singer of some description and married a concert pianist, but had no children and no documents that I've come across yet to back this up. The indenture I find fascinating, in near perfect condition with wax seals dated 1864 for an apprenticeship in the business of auction house agent appraiser and valuer! There is a flyer for a fishmongers business dated 1897 which two of the brothers had but from googling, they later went bankrupt. Theres the sweetest little card which is an invite from a reverend to take tea at a mission hall on 31st December 1902. A marriage licence dated 1919, never seen one of those before. Also a tiny box which is clearly handmade and I have a vague recollection of a story of a box made by a prisoner of war, looks like it could have been fashioned from matchsticks but I'm really not sure. Several very old photos with names on that I could match up to the family members, and soldiers photos with location, several state Malta. No photos of buildings but a couple of sketches and a hand embroidered card with RCA on it?? So many bits and pieces. Not been through everything yet. Maybe a family history society in Surrey would be interested. I'll make some enquiries along that line I think.
Claire, on the subject of the medals, There are really only 3 ww1 medals and they are easy to recognise. Also they should have the recipient name and number around the edge. However, I get the impression that yours are probably ww2. .
If you send me a close up photo of them I will tell you what they are. In Ww2 there was a lot of moving around from regiment to regiment, particularly after D Day
I was also given an amount of certificates etc (unrelated to my family)by a friend who knew I was interested in family history. She was distantly related to the person who had died but didn't want them. I found a tree on Ancestry with some of the people on it so contacted the owner and asked if they would like the items I had. After waiting a few weeks I eventually received a reply saying they would like them so I posted them off and never even got a thank you! I would have been over the moon if something like that had come into my possession. I think donating them to a family history society sounds a good idea.
My response is more of a sympathetic rant than advice.
The situation the OP describes is similar to mine except that I have found and researched documents and on line data back as early as late 17th century. I have Nieces and nephews who don't give a twig about the family stuff. My own daughter thinks it all rubbish. In short there is no relative that shares my passion. It makes me ill to think that all of my years of work and the kind assistance of others (btw mostly from this site)will be lost somewhere out in computer space. The hard copy items ignored in the tin box I keep them in.
It is unusual but all of my ancestry on both maternal and paternal lines are within the UK and specifically GB. I have sent some relevant copies electronically to the Union Workhouse Museum in Guildford and the Homechildren group here in Ontario and other emigration documentation to the Museums of Liverpool but these are just pieces, not even chapters, of my family history.
At the mention of my body of work I get eye rolls and patronizing response. I am sure that LDS keeps data freom the Ancestry and similar sites but that is so impersonal. GedComs are just another version of the compiled materials.
Is there a safe haven? A web site that would store the data to be released only to someone proving a relationship to the family group? Gosh I hope so!