Personal Project: The Kilmer-Tuttle Family Archives

Hi everyone! I wanted to share a personal project my sister and I have (finally) made a start on… The Kilmer-Tuttle Family Archives (or Trove as we really refer to it). If you are following Modern Memorykeeper on Instagram or Facebook, you have no doubt noticed a tip a day being shared as September is “Save Your Photos Month”. Today, I wanted to elaborate on the tip for Day #11 which was “Inventory”. This past July, my sister brought over the boxes that she had of our mother’s families items and we combined them with the items I had and stacked them all up on the dining room table.

…I am fairly sure we may discover a few more things as my sister cleans out her basement, but we have made a good start. The process is actually fairly simple, and we worked through everything in a few hours.

  • #1 Find what you can, trust me, start with what you have and you can always add to your pile later. If you wait to find everything, you might never start.
  • #2 Gather your items all together in one place where you can work and spread out. If you have a large number of items and not a lot of space to work, sort things into groupings and review things by group.
  • #3 Pick a pile and start, honestly we just worked from left to right, top to bottom. Once we’d finished with a piece it was moved off of the table into a box or stack to be stored. This way there is no confusion if we’d already looked at something.
  • #4 Document, I hand wrote notes in a notebook including who the item belonged to (if I knew), description, condition, and notes on what was in the album/envelope and initial ideas on what we might want to do with the item. I also included where the item will be stored in my home, to make retrieval easier. I will know exactly where a particular item is. I also photographed each item, albums had their covers photographed for identification and one or two photographs of the insides as a reminder of what the album contained.
  • #5 Consolidate / Conserve, There were some items, like framed photographs, where I removed the photographs from the frames and discarded the frames (which were falling apart) and slipped the photographs into archival envelopes for later scanning. Wherever we could consolidate items, we did. Several other items that were really old and fragile were sleeved and carefully tucked into storage boxes.
  • #6 Store, we had decided since I have the equipment, for now I am taking possession of all of the items and scanning / photographing everything. My sister took a few items back home with her to research value. We boxed up all of the smaller items together and tucked them into their new home and the albums were put back into their resting space in a dark cabinet in a corner of the living room where they will be un-disturbed until it’s time to digitize them.

#4 Document, you don’t have to make it fancy, a quick snap with your cellphone is enough.

#5 Consolidate and conserve Framed photos were removed from their frames and loose photos gathered into archival envelopes for later scanning.

After everything was stored away, I made a simple spreadsheet from my notes and the photographs. All the information is in one place, and includes a photograph of the item as well as all of our notes. I printed out a copy for my project binder, and put a copy in dropbox to share with my sister. We’ll use this document to help us decide what we’d like to work on first and what we’d like to try and share with family members or other organizations.

We wanted to keep this process quick and simple and just get an idea of what we had to work with. Now we feel like we can take our time digitizing items and discussing how we want to preserve and share things. This approach is simple and flexible, and I highly recommend working through an inventory and taking some time to look at what you have before you dig in and restore or digitize your items.

If you are finding you are overwhelmed with your collection and don’t know where to start, I’d love to help you inventory your families collection and get you started enjoying your families photographs and memorabilia and telling your family stories. Contact me at to get started.

A Photo Organizers Project: Boxes in the Attic 1 of 4

Good morning everyone!

It is finally really spring in New England and this photo organizer is hard at work on lots of projects over here.  I recently had the enviable job of starting to clean out and organize our giant attic ahead of some renovations.  Luckily right now it’s very cool so it’s the perfect time to tackle this project.

Imagine my surprise and delight to open a box that was filled with 4 boxes of things I thought were long gone.   I know we all have these boxes somewhere !  I thought I’d share mine here and on the Modern Memorykeeper You Tube channel.  You can follow along (hit the subscribe buttons) as I post a new find each week and then I’ll figure out what I am going to do with “all the things” !

A few things to note:

The attic is not the place for boxes and content such as this.  After I filmed and photographed the contents of the boxes (as much for sharing with you as for a visual inventory) I have moved them down into the main part of the house.  Your photographs, albums, media and other parts of your Family Memory Library should be living where you live to help prevent loss due to extremes in temperature, humidity and potential insect or mice damage  (yes we live in a an old house so I automatically assume there are mice sharing the dwelling).

The boxes that are containing “all the things” are not archival, but they are clean and sturdy and have safely contained the contents for well over 10 years probably closer 15.  (They are from Ikea similar to these and yes we love Ikea storage! )  After the collection has been sorted and organized and I’ve developed a plan on how I want to preserve the items and then be able to share them and incorporate them into my Family Memory Library,  I’ll re-home the items into archival storage.  (and I’ll share my sources and methods with you!).

I’m a photo organizer and passionate memory keeper…I am not a videographer!  My new mantra is done is better than perfect, my videos are shot with my iPhone 7 or my Canon camera and edited in iMovie, so my process is accessible and simple for everyone.  Getting my projects and enthusiasm for Memorykeeping to you is my most important goal!  i hope you enjoy and take away some inspiration and ideas for your own projects!


I’ll be posting a video each Wednesday on my Modern Memorykeeper YouTube Channel  I’ll also be writing on the blog and sharing additional photos on Instagram and Facebook so subscribe to be notified when a new video is posted!

And to my fellow Bostonians…get outside quick!  The sun is shining!

Friday Family Stories

Last week I took a hiatus on the blog to drive out to attend my little sisters wedding celebration !  This week I’m back with a new story… which has me feeling all the feels since these two little girls will be going off to college next year… The text reads:

June 2004: Boston Public Garden Today we made a family excursion into Boston to walk around and enjoy the day. It was a beautiful day and we had such fun walking around the Common, down by the Charles River and into the Public Garden. Of course we couldn’t visit the Public Garden without checking out the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue in the corner of the Garden by Charles Street. We have read that book over and over and over, I think we all knew it by heart. You named all the ducklings and debated who was where in the line. You even posed for pictures on your favorite duckling. A fun way to spend a gorgeous afternoon in Boston! Remembered 2015, Love Mama

2015-11-Key to my heart-Lent8-PRINT

Original scrapbook page



Simpler large photo version

Having these photos and doing what I do to tell stories for my family makes the inevitable transitioning to an empty next slightly more appealing!  And it’s all about the stories my friends.


Friday Family Stories is a weekly blog series demonstrating how to pair your photos with their stories,  catching fleeting moments to share with those that matter most

Friday Family Stories

Todays Friday Family Story goes way back, 82 1/2 years if we’re counting, to a photo of my mom as a little girl.  The text reads:  

My mom, at 2 1/2 years old.  Today would have been her 83rd birthday.  I am so very very lucky to have multiple photo albums full of pictures of my mother and her family.  They were quite a bunch!  Slowly, we are going through the treasures.  I love this photo for the picture of my mom with her dolly carriage mostly because it’s of her, with something she loved, her dolls.  I also love this because it sets time and place.  My mom always had a lovely coat and sometimes hat in photos and always cute outfits.  And saddle shoes (!) and it seems very modern that she’s wearing pants!  And that wicker doll carriage?  I have it, in my attic.  Mom gave it to me years ago when we had an old victorian house… she thought I could use it for decoration because it was…Victorian.  Love it, love her and so happy to have treasures such as these.  

Happy Birthday Mom.

2016-32-Mom 1937 LFDD oh snap fb freebie-PRINT

The original presentation of this story


Photo and story in a streamlined presentation


There is a struggle with old photos where we don’t know the exact details of the photograph. Why bother to keep them when we don’t know the story?  We can however tell a story that links the past to the present even without knowing the details.  I don’t know where this was taken, although I can probably guess it was somewhere around their home at the time in Peekskill, NY.  I don’t know who took it, my grandfather or one of the uncles?  Or if it signifies some specific event, April is not my mom’s birth month so it would not be a photo commemorating her birthday.  It could very well just be a picture of my mom being adorable (and honestly, from the expression on her face, it looks like the photo shoot may have been going on for awhile…).  But what I do know is how I feel about the photograph, and the memories it evokes for me.  I can add my observations surrounding the photograph (the garments she’s wearing and that she loved her dolls) and contemporary details that link me with my mom (the doll carriage that I now have).   I invite you to take a new look at your photographs and see what kinds of stories you can tell from an image that you previously thought was silent.  Let the photo speak to you, you will be surprised what it has to say.  

As you can see, telling your story doesn’t have to involve loads of photos or pages and pages of text (unless that is what you want, then go for it!)  One story, simply told as part of your family story.    Want help telling your family story?  Modern Memorykeeper can help you tell your stories while preserving your family memories.  Let us show you how!


Friday Family Stories is a weekly blog series demonstrating how to pair your photos with their stories,  catching fleeting moments to share with those that matter most

You don’t have to be First Lady to preserve your memories

This past week, Mrs Barbara Bush was laid to rest at 92, “Americas Grandmother” and beloved wife of 72 years to her Husband, mom of six children, grandma to many grandchildren and lover of dogs.   I loved Mrs. Bush, I thought she was a great inspiration for women of all ages and stages, I wish I could have had the chance to meet her.  Did you also know she was a scrapbooker?   Yes, the former First Lady of the United States was an avid memory keeper.   A video posted from television station  Shared glimpses of Ms. Bushes scrapbooks .  

She saved letters, photographs, programs and newspaper clippings  all lovingly pasted into many, many albums.    She was an avid photographer, documenting her family and her travels which I am sure also found her way into her scrapbooks.  A small gallery of her photographs can be found here on her website.

Some of Mrs Bushes books are now part of the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.  I’m sure many more of them are being enjoyed by her children, grandchildren and friends.  

as an aside… I have never really researched First Ladies and there are SO MANY interesting sites and resources out there.  The Site is fascinating and has a lovely tribute to Barbara Bush as of this writing.  

As Mrs Bushes memory keeping shows, it’s a gift and a joy to take photos, tell stories and share them with those we love.  Do you need to have your own paper conservator for your memories?  Not at all, the most important thing is getting those memories, photos and stories out of boxes, envelopes, slides, negatives, whatever the format, and unite them with their stories.    Feeling like you don’t know where to start with your memories?

For a little encouragement, may I present my first scrapbook:

all the photos

I have to say, I’ve come quite a long way since those pages of documentation!  Today, not only am I documenting my own family stories and working on the “Family Archives” of antique scrapbooks, photographs and papers and more contemporary photos and slides… I helping clients preserve their memories and tell their stories. At Modern Memorykeeper  we can create beautiful memories out of boxes of photo chaos….and sometimes all it takes is finding one old scrapbook to start.