Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hoarders Anonymous

My parents were hoarders. They filled drawers with old letters, took a mountain of photographs and slides, and even kept a collection of second world war pamphlets in a bag in the bottom of their wardrobe. Born in the 1920s, they came from a generation that really did 'mend and make do'. Furniture was made to last. Clothes were restyled and revamped. Jewellery and bibles were handed down to the next generation. When they moved from the house I grew up in (where they had lived for over thirty years), a quarter of the immense removal lorry was taken up with boxes of documentation, books and antique memorabilia.

With the advent of minimalism and the trend over the last couple of decades to declutter, hoarding has become a negative concept. Perhaps from the point of view of fashion and feng shui, hoarding is still seen as a bad thing but for genealogists, it can provide a treasure trove of dates, addresses and faces.

In amongst the treasure trove that my parents left behind, is a number of bibles that list family births and deaths. I also have a little book of birthdays which I've spoken of before on this blog, love letters between my parents, and a cupboard full of photographs and slides. I'll admit that finding a home for it all is a challenge (it's currently piled under our stairs while I try to empty some cupboards) but I see this clutter as a valuable slice of my family history. I'm glad my parents were hoarders.

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