Tips for Tagging Family Heirlooms

One-handled rolling pin

My mom’s one-handed rolling-pin

When my husband’s mother died, we received many of her belongings. Things like a picture painted by a dear friend of hers, an antique clock given to her by her husband for their wedding anniversary, a vase among them. Behind each one of these items is a story of how it came to be in his family. My husband can tell me about each one. Each time I look at these family heirlooms I think of its story.

Most of us have things we think of as treasures and there’s usually a story behind them.

For me there’s the quilt my great-grandmother started many years ago that I finished and gave to my mother as a Christmas gift, a platter passed down through generations, furniture my grandfather made. There are things everywhere that have meaning and I hope will not be forgotten.

But, sometimes with the hectic pace of everyday life we do start to lose the stories.

It occurred to me one day in my mother’s kitchen that these stories need to be written down. We were cooking a meal together when she told me about the spoon that was her grandmothers and the dish that belonged to her mother. “And don’t forget this rolling-pin I got after your dad and I were married, I broke it the first time I used it.” It has been a one-handled rolling-pin through 69 years of marriage. She never bought a new one.

The next time I visited my parents I brought tags. I found them at the hobby store in the scrapbooking section. Those little paper tags with strings attached for labeling something. I asked her and my dad to start labeling family heirlooms and the story behind it. “I might forget something and I want to remember,” I told them.

So your stories don’t get lost, here are some tips for tagging family heirlooms and other items of value for yourself or an older family member or friend:

  • Purchase tags or other sturdy acid-free paper (you can cut the paper to fit your needs). Purchase a scrapbooking pen as well.
  • Look for family heirlooms, and things of personal and monetary value. Make sure your tag will fit on the back or bottom of an item.
  • Write your story. From whom or where did it come from? How old is it? If it’s of monetary value how much did you pay for it? What is the story you want to tell? If the story is too long, write it in a journal or paper of your choice.
  • Place the tag on the back or bottom with tape, or attach the tag with a string.
  • For other items you still use, such as a ring you still wear, put a tag in your jewelry box describing the item and the story.
  • Assist a loved one to tag items by writing it for them if needed. Helping your loved one to remember heirlooms and the memories that go with it is a wonderful gift to them. These memories are where legacies come from.