As a simple scrapbooker and relatively minimalist person, memorabilia is something I struggle with. I’m not very emotionally attached to stuff and place far more value in my photo library and the stories I put on paper. Still, there are little bits of paper in life that you just have to hold on to.
Here are some of your options for storing memorabilia without a lot of fuss or complex systems. My suggestions here may not all be archival safe, so if very-long-term storage is important to you, please consider that fact.
Options for Memorabilia Storage
1. Folder – A majority of my memories from high school and college are tucked into a single purple folder embellished circa 1996 with stickers. It may be falling apart, but it packs away nicely and I know where it all is.
2. Plastic Bins – I call my favorite set of Sterilite bins “double-wide shoeboxes” because they are about the same length as a shoebox, but wide enough to hold letter-sized paper, magazines etc. I keep cards and letters between my husband and I in one of these. These are also the perfect size to store a school year’s worth of memorabilia.
3. Page Protectors – Most often, the memorabilia I save is tied to a particular album I’ve planned in advance. (This helps me put boundaries on what I save.) I use page protectors in full-page and various divided configurations for saving papers, brochures and clippings from vacation.
4. Filing Cabinet – During the year, we use our main filing system for temporary storage of memorabilia. Each child has his own folder and we also save photos we receive from friends and family. Once or twice a year, we empty these folders and transfer the items to one of the above options or the the recycle bin.
Options I Don’t Prefer
Photo Boxes – While perfect for 4×6 prints, photo boxes always seem to be the wrong size for storing a variety of (mostly) paper-based memorabilia.
File Boxes – Unless you’ve got a series of folders in there, I don’t recommend filling large file boxes full of stuff for medium- to longer-term storage. You might be saving too much.
Garbage Bags – Sometimes there is no other option, I know. But if you can swing it, flat storage will best protect the integrity of your memorabilia.
I find it more important for memorabilia to have a home (any home) than to have one single system. This is what works for me. Groupings are categorized naturally and organically, often by the volume and shape of what I am storing, and evolve over time. Most importantly, I declutter routinely and focus on saving only what matters most.
How do you store your memorabilia? Do you use different methods?