Who are Those Guys?
If you are a fan of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (and over 60 years old) you will remember that line from the movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. It’s also been used often by me when looking at my parent's old pictures. Like the one here that I know relates to my grandfather’s service in the Marine Corps but unfortunately was not annotated so I have no idea “who are those guys”.
So why does this stuff languish in attics and basements? One reason is that going through the family archives can be daunting and intimidating. We find pictures of relatives and friends or references to people in documents that we do not know. Sometimes we can cross reference them to known pictures and information but often we are simply out of luck. The archives are generally stored in attics and basements; they can be dusty and dirty and otherwise not easy to handle. And what do you gain by pulling them out? Nothing, unless you are going to improve the storage environment and organize the archives somewhat.
And for that reason, now is the time to tackle this task. With each passing generation, we will be unable to identify additional folks that were important to the family somewhere along the line. My father probably would recognize those Marines but unfortunately he is gone now and so is the knowledge that he carried with him in his mind for so long but didn’t record.
In addition to losing the ability to identify people and events, poor storage conditions can lead to deterioration of paper and film and eventually make them unreadable and unusable.
So, if you know that you have important family papers and images that you want to preserve for future generation, don’ put it off. Now is the time to copy, backup and properly store all this material before it is really lost forever.