Old family letters and documents can hold a treasure trove full of information about our ancestors, but often the paper they are written on has become delicate and the ink faded, to say nothing about the writing!
The first thing to do is preserve the original letters. I'm not an archivist but I do know that before handling old documents, you should wash your hands or wear archival gloves and handle them as little as possible. Ideally, the documents should be scanned using a flat bed scanner (a feed scanner can damage the flimsy paper).
Secondly, the original documents should be stored carefully in archival sleeves. Where possible, keep the original envelope with the letter as this will hopefully give you a date. Recently, my brother and sister and I inherited a large box of old letters but most have no envelope and no date on the missive, rather the letters are headed 'Sunday' or Wednesday'. This makes dating the information very difficult! Fortunately in our case, the letters are fairly recent (written during WWII) and we have been able to guess the year from the information within.
By scanning old documents, not only do you have a secure backup, you also have the ability to share.
Once transcribed we can work with you to find the best way to share them with your family. We can format the documents with customised fonts and page layouts, even add some of those old photographs to make them not only more legible, but fun to read.
Given that these old missives can contain very personal (and sometimes embarrassing) information about our ancestors, we need to decide whether or not to share them with others. The last thing we need is to air old family secrets (or release those pesky skeletons from the closet!) So, before sharing, talk to other member of your family or family members of people mentioned to make sure you don't step on anyones toes.
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