How to create a memory box for Anzac treasures and memorabilia

anzac free advice memorabilia Apr 25, 2020
A bright red poppy sits in a green field

We will remember them… but how? 

Do you have treasured photos, medals and memorabilia from an Anzac hero in your family? How do you store them? Are you confident that your “archive” will protect that precious history? 

I often meet clients who have taken on the mantle of family historian – sometimes willingly, sometimes not. I find medals, photos and all sorts of treasures squirreled around the house. In the top drawer underneath your knickers and alongside your passport; tucked loose inside a packet of printed photos yet to be put into an album; in a box marked “ammo” at the back of the garden shed. 

What I would love to share with you today are the simple steps you can take to create an archive that will honour those who served our country and make it easy for future generations to continue to honour them in the years to come.

  1. Pull together all of your memorabilia into one place – gather it from the four corners of your home so you can see just how much you need to store. 

  2. Decide where in your home you will be storing your archive box. Ideally it will be inside in a cool, dry place.

  3. Choose a box that is big enough to house everything – and with a lid. Consider where you will be storing it; if it will be in a garage, shed or basement make sure you choose a box that will be impenetrable to rodents and moisture. 

  4. Put everything in the box. 

    1. Wrap treasures, medals and memorabilia in soft fabric (this is a great way to repurpose unwanted napkins, tea towels and tablecloths). Wrapping precious items in fabric will add extra protection within the box, especially important if you move house and the box is tossed willy-nilly in the back of a moving truck. 

    2. Put photos into albums if you can, or in the very least in a protective plastic sleeve.

  5. Write as many notes as you can. Who is in the photos? Where did they serve? What was their date of birth and date of death? What are the treasures? I’ll cover more about this below, so for now, once you’ve made your notes tuck them inside the box (again, in a plastic sleeve for protection if possible). 

  6. Label the box! Big letters on the outside: “Family War History” or something along those lines. Put the lid on the box or close the flaps if it is cardboard and you’re done!

In my opinion, step 5 is the most important – otherwise what is the point of keeping this stuff? Harsh but true; honestly, if no one knows who is in the photos, why keep them? 30 years from now, when your kids are clearing out your cupboards, they need to know what’s in the box and why it’s important, so make it easy for them. And if you have no clue – that’s ok too. Sometimes we end up with things that have no meaning to us, and it honours no one to keep them in the back of a cupboard gathering dust. Of course I’m not saying throw it in the bin – do a bit of ringing around, find your nearest War Memorial Museum and see if you can track down an historian who is interested in taking care things from here on in. Before you let it go entirely, take some photos of what you have and file them on the computer, being as descriptive as possible in the file and folder names. If you wanted to, you could take this one step further and create a simple photo book that can be printed and live on your bookshelf, forever at your fingertips just in case you need it (but taking up much less physical and emotional space). 

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