30 June 2014

Making a Life Binder

 Awhile back, I attended a genealogy basics class. It was a fascinating afternoon, and I picked up a number of tips on how to start researching your family history. 

But one suggestion not specifically related to genealogy stuck with me: The instructor mentioned that as she researched her family history, she created a binder with the significant papers for each of her parents -- birth certificates, school records, employment information, etc. As soon as she suggested this idea, I knew that I wanted to make a binder for each of my parents -- even though I'm not doing genealogy yet. I'm calling it a "Life Binder", since it will tell the story of their lives.

The Life Binder will allow me to keep all of their important papers organized and accessible. When I'm ready to scrapbook their lives, I'll simply integrate the documents into my album.
In my basement there are tubs and tubs of papers from my parents' house. It has been very overwhelming to sift through all the boxes and know what to keep and where to put it all. Once I decided to make a Life Binder for each parent, my sorting process became easier.  

I made temporary "sorting" file folders for each of my parents -- primary school, secondary school, military, employment, volunteer activities, hobbies, etc. I moved items I want to keep into the appropriate folder.

Eventually I ended up with a tub of roughly sorted papers and folders for my dad. Since I have fewer papers for my dad than for my mom, I decided to start with his Life Binder.

I purchased large binders and a box of acid-free sheet protectors at the office supply store. I bought over-sized tabs which are wider than the sheet protectors and labeled them for each stage or activity in life, beginning with birth/infancy, and ending with death. I added a few baseball card sleeves for smaller items like work ID's. Then I got to work moving papers out of the tub and into the binder.

 In a short amount of time, I had consolidated all of the loose papers into a single, organized binder. And even though it seems simplistic, the binder helped me start to see the story of my dad's life, from birth through each stage in life until his final days on earth.

 While I was at it, I created a Life Binder for my own papers, too. Now as I'm sorting through those tubs, I have a place to stash all the important documents from my own childhood -- Girl Scout records, school certificates, piano recital programs, and the like. Everything will be organized for when I eventually start scrapbooking my own life. I think I may make a smaller binder for my grandparents, too.

I like the concept of Life Binders so much that I thought I would share it today! I'm all for ideas that help bring order to the chaos of life.


Sarah Coggins said...

What a great idea! I've seem similar binders on pinterest, but more of an "emergency" style (i.e., copies of current credit cards, home docs, etc that you might need in case of emergency). I really like this idea! Even if you didn't get around to placing some of these items into photo style scrapbooks, you still have scrapbooked them. Like you said - you can flip through and see your dad's life in those pages. I really need to do this for papers from my childhood and DH's. Thanks for inspiring me, Janet! Hope you are doing well. :)

Heather said...

I love this idea!! I need to make these as well.

Janet said...

Thanks, Heather and Sarah! You never know where you'll pick up a good idea. I'm so thankful the genealogy instructor suggested it!

kathy mccreary said...

Thank you so much!! I love, love this idea! I will use this as a stepping stone towards making my parents scrapbooks.

Janet said...

Thanks, Kathy! I love the idea, too, and am glad it will work for you. I'm so excited to tame this paper monster in my basement! Thank you for stopping by. :)

Kimberly Marie said...

I'm in unison with the others ~ what a great idea!