Spring Cleaning Your Reunion Files: Part I by Lisa A. Alzo

Spring 2023 in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on Monday, March 20. As such, this month is the perfect time for reunion planners and committees to do some “spring cleaning” of reunion files and photographs to be better organized for 2023 events.

When it comes to decluttering, it can be challenging to sift through paper files and printed photographs. Staying organized is a key to a smooth and successful reunion. But don’t try to conquer the paper monster all at once. Think about the adage: How do you eat an elephant?  The answer is “One bite at a time.” Avoid overwhelm and frustration by tackling your tasks in smaller segments. My routine is to sort, scan, and store. Start with documents. Go through and save only the most relevant correspondence and reunion information, purging duplicates (for example, you don’t need 10 copies of an old invitation). Take one copy, scan it and then save it in a labeled folder and toss the remaining copies). Be sure to shred any documents with personal information. Set aside duplicate images. Don’t scan blurry images or damaged images that are not good candidates for digital correction. For print photographs, sort them by reunion year and then by family. Leave one pile for undated photographs and another for “mystery” photographs. You may wish to bring those to the next reunion to see if family members can assist with the identification process.

Purchase some acid-free photo storage boxes available from local chain stores, Amazon.com, or archival supply companies such as Gaylord Archival https://www.gaylord.com or Hollinger Metal Edge

https://www.hollingermetaledge.com. When identifying photos, do not write on the front of the photograph. Avoid using a ballpoint pen or marker. Instead, use a graphite photo-marking pencil to write the name(s) and date lightly in a special pencil on the back of the photograph. Also, try to schedule a designated each week to attend to these tasks. If smaller time segments work better for you, try doing just 15 minutes per day and you will be on your way to conquering the paper monster.

For tips on organizing digital files, look for “Spring Cleaning Your Reunion Files Part II” in our next edition of this newsletter.