Unboxing the Past

Unboxing the Past

On 18 May 2018, I opened a box that I received from my father’s cousin. This box had resided in her mother’s home for nearly 20 years and too many years in her own garage. Garage! Yikes.

Why would the photos be in the garage of my dad’s aunt and cousin when he was an only child? Family feuds.

Family feuds negatively impact family history to a far greater extent than floods and other natural disasters, at least that’s what it feels like. My father had a falling out with his family when my grandparents were placed in a nursing home. This was when I was a teenager, so you can guess how long ago that was. In any case, the end result was that my father lost a court battle and thereby his inheritance which included what I still think was more valuable than anything in my grandparent’s home – our family history. I had never thought to see any of the photos or documents about their lives again.


A few years ago, my father’s cousin (my dad has no siblings), called and said she had a box of photo albums in her garage that belonged to Grandma Helen.

Wait, what!??!

She agreed to send me the photos and I agreed to pay for the shipping. However, the wait seemed interminable. I felt like, why tell me something exists and not send it to me. I could die of waiting. (Do I should like a child waiting for Christmas?)

Finally, finally, FINALLY the box came in the mail and I couldn’t wait to open it. However, I wanted Family History Fanatics fans to be apart of the process with me, hence the live-stream unboxing.

If you missed my reaction to the photos, check out this video!

What would be inside the box and in what condition? That’s what I couldn’t wait to see.

The box contained several pictures in frames that I specifically remembered hanging on my Grandma Helen’s wall in her Blacklick, Ohio home. That was cool. I had those photos from previous picture gathering efforts, but these were the ones from her home, it was super cool.

I discovered a framed photo of my Grandma Helen and Grandpa Bob that I didn’t have before. This one was part of a photo shoot and was a compliment to a portrait I already had. Super cool discovery as well.

There were more loose items, but I really enjoyed seeing photo albums that my grandmother assembled. My friend Melissa Barker stressed the need to remove the photos ASAP from the old albums that damage the photos, and that’s one of my goals this year. My other friend Melissa expressed a desire to see what was inside the albums.

I plan on sharing those photos here on the blog on Fridays – Photo Fridays. I’ll also share them on my Instagram account.

If you or your family members have ANY albums in your home, please spend this year placing them in archival quality photo albums so they might last long into the future.

Then LABEL THE PHOTOS. You’ll see me say that more times that you can count throughout the Photo Friday series.

What's inside a box that has been in a garage for 20 years? What should you do with collections that have been tucked away for that long. #preservation #genealogy#familyhistory

In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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