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Collecting and Managing Your Personal and Family Records: Home

Rare and Distinctive Collections


Classroom: Norlin N345

Reading Room: Norlin M350B

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University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections
Reading Room (Room M350B)
Norlin Library
184 UCB
1720 Pleasant Street
Boulder, CO 80309

Arching Your Story

The University of Colorado Boulder Libraries' Collections of Distinction contain a wide variety of rare and original historical records and materials that are valuable as evidence of our history, culture, and knowledge. We know many people and families have their own personal archival collections, including legal documents, books, photographs, home movies, and many other heirlooms and materials used to pass personal and family stories through generations. 

This collection of information guides and resources was compiled by the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries' Collections of Distinction and Preservation sections to help you care for and manage your own historical collections at home. 

Personal archiving

1. Gather and choose the materials you want to save. 

Determine what records, documents, and objects are most important to you and your family. Consider the following: 

  • How much material do you have time and space to care for in the long-term?
  • If you have multiple versions of the same items, which versions are the highest quality? 
  • Would these documents or items be available elsewhere - like libraries or records' offices - if they were lost? 

2. Prepare material for preservation and storage. 

You may need to consider: 

  • Where in your home - or in professional storage - will provide the best environment for storing materials? 
  • What types of boxes, folders, envelopes, or other enclosures do you need to store your materials? 

Keep your storage area clean, and check your materials regularly for signs of water damage, pests, or deterioration.

3. Clearly identify, date, and label your material as best as possible. 

The ability of your historical records to be used and understood in the future may rely on how well your papers, photos, and other materials are organized and described.

  • Try to label your materials with the dates, events, people, or locations they come from or depict. 
  • Organize records in simple systems - by document type, date, event, etc. 

4. Have a plan for your records' future. 

Consider how your personal archives will be passed to future generations. Consult with a legal professional about how to insure your materials, to identify what copyright you may have for your materials, or to make legal plans for their dispensation in the future. If you're interested in donating your personal records to an archives, historical society, library, or museum, contact your local institution or alma mater to discuss their collecting policies and options. 

Additional resources

Click on a link below to find resources on caring for and preserving the diverse materials that comprise your personal and family archives. 

Papers and Documents

Photographic Materials

Book Collections

Home Movies and Sound Recordings

Objects and Heirlooms

Oral Histories

Digital Records and Files

Digitizing Your Collections