Book Review: Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage by Kennis Kim

Prepared by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

While the actual researching of your family history probably takes up the majority of your genealogical time there is another equally important aspect of family history, taking care of your family heirlooms. The preservation of family heirlooms is something that all genealogists should be actively pursuing. Those heirlooms combined with our genealogical research will be what interests our descendants in their family history for years to come.

Author Kennis Kim begins her book by talking about heirlooms and your overall home environment and conditions to consider such as light, temperature and unwanted creatures. She then spends the next eleven chapters talking specifically about different types of heirlooms and how to care for and preserve them including Books, Art, Pictures, Textiles, Wood objects, Bone/Horn/Ivory objects, Plastic and Rubber artifacts, Glass and Ceramic artifacts, Coins and Medals, and Digital Media. Kim's last chapter on Digital Media is really a very short introduction to how you should preserve computer files, emails, printed images and digital photography. While not providing a lot of information about the preservation of digital media, it is a beginning to a discussion that needs to be explored further. Fifteen appendices provide detailed information on preservation methods including encapsulation, cleaning and storage. These appendixes provide some how-to advice to help you conserve and preserve your heirlooms. A reference section and suppliers list provides additional resources for readers.

One of my favorite sections of the books is the first appendix, the Accession List Information. This appendix explains how to create an accession list for all of your heirlooms. The book's glossary defines an Accession List as "A record of all holdings, often including a control or reference number and additional information." Don't let the technical sounding definition deter you. An accession list allows you to document each heirloom you own. This is an important on many different levels including for insurance documentation, sharing with other family members, and for use in family history narratives and books.

Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage, by Kennis Kim. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2010. Available from Dundurn Press.

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