Often, the first indication many families have of a familial link to slavery, are family heirlooms and historic documents of the era. Ask elders of your family if they have such documents; check out garages and attics! Connect with distant cousins on genealogical sites and see what items have been handed down; ask for copies. Items such as photos, personal stories, records from prior centuries and other personal ephemera items, even if in poor shape, can give important historic clues. Copies can be uploaded onto genealogical sites for sharing or donated to historic societies for preservation.
Tips for preserving family ephemera:
- Stabilize the items, shield from water, mildew or sunlight damage, and purchase appropriate storage media.
- Have the items professionally photographed or documented, or rebound.
- Consider donating to local, regional or national historical societies for items with historic significance