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How to Weed Your Attic


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Preface 1 Why the Things in Your Attic Matter to History 2 General Rules for Making Decisions 3 Historical Value: Mass Produced Items 4 Historical Value: Individualized Materials 5 Historical Value: Corporate Records 6 Historical Value: Commemorative Material 7 Special Issues 8 Preserving Your Family Objects and Papers 9 Donating Your Family Objects and Papers Index About the Authors

About the Author

Elizabeth H. Dow discovered during her last class toward a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Library and Information Science, that she could blend her love of history and love of organizing information by becoming an archivist. Subsequently, she worked as an archivist at the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury, Vt., the Vermont State Archives, and the Special Collections Division of the University of Vermont's Bailey/Howe library. In 2001, she left Vermont to create the archives track in Louisiana State University's School of Library and Information Science. She retired as the J. Franklin Bayhi Professor of Library and Information Science in 2014, and moved back home to Hardwick, Vt. She is the author of Creating EAD-Compatible Finding Guides on Paper (Scarecrow Press, 2005), Electronic Records in the Manuscript Repository (Scarecrow Press, 2009), and Archivists, Collectors, Dealers, and Replevin: Case Studies on Private Ownership of Public Documents (Scarecrow, 2012). Lucinda P. Cockrell has worked professionally for more than thirty years in the museum, archives, and public history field. She has degrees in Historic Preservation and Museum Education, and is a Certified Archivist. Her career has been graced by positions held at the James K. Polk Ancestral Home (Columbia, Tennessee), the Yorktown (Virginia) Victory Center, and the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University. She now lives in the mountains of Vermont with her husband, Dale, her dog, Enkidu, and volunteers in local museums and libraries, serves on boards, collects ephemera, and helps friends weed their attics.


Dow and Cockrell's approach and advice are right on target-no nonsense and frank, focusing on historical significance rather than nostalgia. They provide expert guidance in an accessible, practical format that we can all put to good use in the difficult task of taking care of the accumulations of family life. -- James B. Gardner, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
The significance of How to Weed your Attic lies in its ability to provide a basis for understanding why family history is important and what we can do to prevent its loss. The book offers solid guidance and pragmatic solutions, especially to those who may be unprepared to make decisions about family records and who fear losing family history. -- Amy Cooper Cary, Head, Special Collections and University Archives, Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University
How do we organize, prioritize, and thin out the mounds of accumulated papers and materials in our files, office drawers, and attics? Dow and Cockrell offer a clear and concise approach to these pressing concerns. This sensible and structured handbook provides encouraging and straightforward strategies for tasks that can otherwise feel overwhelming. From everyday family mementos and photos to corporate records and ephemera, this handy volume is an excellent resource to guide us through the challenges and find satisfaction in well-organized and thoughtfully selected collections. -- Julia Rose, Director and Curator, Homewood Museum at Johns Hopkins University

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