There are many types of historic preservation, beyond saving battlefields. One preservation effort is researching and keeping artifacts and documents. Many times this is done professionally by museums and archives. Other times private collectors save and research historic items and primary sources.
What about the more personal side of preserving items from ancestors? In an unofficial tradition that goes back to the Civil War (and further back in history!), women have had an important role in saving letters, effects, and other pieces of their family history. Who was saving soldier letters which we now find in archives? Oftentimes, the ladies.
Stephanie Huffman, a friend of mine in Nashville, Tennessee, has been exploring more of her family’s antebellum and Civil War history over the last few months. I wanted to hear her perspective on this process of learning about and preserving her family’s artifacts, and we had delightful chat about women preserving this type of family history and looking at some of her Civil War era treasures.
Whether you use genealogy sites and tools or develop your own family history research methods, there is so much to explore! I asked Stephanie about her starting experience on this journey and what she had learned about this type of preservation. She shared:
Be sure that you collect it [family history]. Do your homework, and pass it on. Don’t let it stop with you, because if it stops with you, the future doesn’t know.
Here’s to documenting and preserving family history. Those artifacts, old letters, and other items tell a story and preservation often starts on the “homefront” when we take the time to explore the history and options for saving and sharing it.
Next: concluding thoughts about what I’ve learned this Women’s History Month while working on this series…