Friday, November 6, 2020

Continuing to Curate My Genealogy Collection

As I curate my genealogy collection, I'm finding new homes for items with historical value but no real family-history value.

Case in point: The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper from Monday, December 8, 1941. Shown at top, it is intact and in good condition, despite being folded neatly for nearly 80 years.

My Cleveland-born father-in-law (Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986) and his entire family had gathered around the radio on the night of December 7th, listening to the terrible news about Pearl Harbor. When the next day's newspaper arrived, he wrapped it and put it away in a dry, safe place.

Because many families did the same thing, this newspaper is anything but rare. In fact, other historical societies and museums I contacted already had one or more copies of this day's newspaper and didn't want another. 

But after exchanging emails with a senior library official at Cleveland State University in Ohio about donating Cleveland theater programs from the 1950s, I brought up the subject of donating this 1941 newspaper. I explained my worry that the paper would inevitably deteriorate little by little unless kept under the proper archival conditions.

Understanding my concern, the official agreed to accept this issue of the Plain Dealer. My husband signed a deed of gift agreement, legally transferring ownership to the university library, found protective packaging to keep the newspaper safe during its journey to Cleveland, and sent it on its way. 

The acknowledgement of this donation arrived the other day. It feels good to know this item is in an appropriate repository, and will NOT be tossed in the rubbish or sold for pennies at a flea market after I join my ancestors!


Want to learn how to curate your genealogy collection? I'm giving a members-only virtual presentation to the Virtual Genealogical Association on Tuesday, November 24, starting at 8 pm. The VGA's membership fee is extremely affordable ($20/year), and includes benefits like webinars and discounts and more. Please check it out if you're not yet a member! 


  1. great idea! I wish I had something I could donate to a museum or archive...

  2. I do the same thing. I've donated booklets to the WWII Museum, sent photos to local historical societies and even found descendants of non-family members in pictures.

  3. I had WWII letters from a distant relative who happened to marry a Miss America. I found a museum/library in her home town who was happy to have the collection, including the one where he is trying to explain to his mother why she wasn't invited to their wedding!