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What do you do with old, inherited 'stuff'?

(13 Posts)
Juliecloud Fri 12-Feb-16 12:45:18

Both DH's and my DPs have boxes and boxes of things in their attics that they inherited from their parents. Things like ancient photo albums, the odd painting, some boxes, letters, etc. I can't help but think, what are we going to do with all of it when they die? I have no idea who most of the people are in the photos. Some of them I can figure it out from the family tree but not everything is labelled.
On one hand, I feel like there is no point in keeping them if no one knows who the people are but on the other hand, I think how can I throw something out that is so old and has been kept for so long?

So, what have you done with these sort of things?

BillMurrey Fri 12-Feb-16 12:53:24

I inherited a large box of photos from my Nan, my mum and dad didn't want them.

I sorted them into people I recognized and people I didn't. The ones I recognized were sent off to other distantly related relatives or connected friends to do whatever they wanted with them and the rest I donated to an Art College where they were apparently used in a large art installation.

Clayhead Fri 12-Feb-16 13:09:48

I did as the PP poster said - sorted through for people I recognised/things I'd like to keep.

I binned/recycled the rest.

specialsubject Fri 12-Feb-16 17:10:52

if at all possible, please get your folks to go through the photos and tell you who is who. I have so many blanks on my family tree because this didn't happen, including one that would mean a great deal to my mother.

that said, no need to keep old holiday snaps even if they are still viewable. There are plenty of pictures of the world.

big job, good luck!

starfishmummy Fri 12-Feb-16 17:18:28

As someone else has said, get the parents/pils to identify people they can. And then maybe just keep one of each family member.

OzzieFem Fri 12-Feb-16 19:20:09

You might find some historical societies would love old photo pictures especially of buildings, man in military uniforms, and even letters, etc.

We often get a photo in our local newspaper from the Battye library (stores most of our states historical records) querying whether anyone has any information regarding it.

I would double check throwing out anything such as paintings, vases, figurines, as they may be worth money, esp. after watching some of these antiquities shows on TV.

EBearhug Fri 12-Feb-16 19:24:33

My grandparents had the forethought to label all their photos. I am getting them scanned, and then I'm donating them to a museum, because they also have some importance to the local history of the area most of them were taken in, not just family history.

There's a ton of other stuff, which I'm currently ignoring for the time being, because there are only 24 hours a day, and I work fulltime. This includes family papers going back to the 18th century or so, so I couldn't just bin it.

Most of the pictures are on my or my sister's walls. Ornaments were spread between a lot of people, so not such a big issue.

And then there are the books.

Some days, I dream of being descended from illiterate peasants...

Juliecloud Sat 13-Feb-16 17:16:26

EBearhug, that sounds like the sort of stuff we've got to deal with! Some of the stuff goes back to the 1850s. There might even be older stuff.

One of my friends scanned all her old photos onto her computer and then binned the paper copies.

I really should make the parents go through it and label everything they can identify. I feel like it stays in boxes forever, moving from attic to attic.

NewLife4Me Sat 13-Feb-16 17:20:07

I still have so much from my parents, it has taken me years to finally begin to sort out.
I am making headway though and about to sell the things of value on ebay.
Other things I have kept, they have sentimental value.
Some went to charity shop, book sales etc and other things like photo'd distributed to the relevant family members.

NewLife4Me Sat 13-Feb-16 17:22:09


If they are elderly can you get them down for them, pretend you are interested and go through them together.
It may take up your time but will be easier to sort when the time comes.

IWasHereBeforeTheHack Sat 13-Feb-16 17:35:28

My DPs are long gone. I have boxes of 'stuff' in 2 rooms and in my attic. It dates back to the 1850s as well. Maybe once I am retired (~10years) I'll get round to dealing with it properly, or when we sell this house, whichever comes first.
<head in sand>

PILs are still alive, and have loads of photos in bags and boxes. MIL still sufficiently compos mentis to tell us what she knows. FIL not (dementia). I do recommend trying to get the info out of their heads and onto the back of the photos before it's too late.

LumelaMme Sat 13-Feb-16 17:37:07

Some days, I dream of being descended from illiterate peasants...
I am descended from illiterate peasants. They left some quite large and clunky items in their wake.

Is there anything there that you might actually use? I dug out some quite nice bedlinen when DM died. I reduced the unusable stuff to one box which is in the loft, and got rid of the rest. I won't bin old photos: short of fire or flood, they'll survive, whereas you can never be certain that whatever computerised format you choose will be readable in thirty years time.

Definitely try and go through the stuff with your DPs and your PILs: they'll be able to give you some background and help you to judge which stuff is worth keeping and which can be chucked. Letters that you don't want would probably be of interest to the relevant local records office, and anything war-related might be happily scooped up the Imperial War Museum - they have a fantastic collection of memoirs, letters, news cuttings, random military paperwork etc etc.

AcrossthePond55 Sat 13-Feb-16 18:20:49

Recently had to clear out my mums when she moved to assisted living. My brother (God bless him) helped me be pretty ruthless in clearing out as I was trying to hang on to every scrap of paper and stained tablecloth.

We first sorted out what we (the siblings) each wanted. Then the grandchildren did the same. Then I contacted my cousins and asked them if they wanted anything as Mum had loads of old pictures and bits and bobs from our grandparents. That took care of most of the pictures, china, ornaments, etc. Then had an evaluator come in and anything worth anything went to auction. The rest went to charity shops or to the tip.

It's really hard to do this, isn't it? DH and I keep saying we need to go through our storage room and start getting rid of stuff.

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