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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an archive?

An archive is a collection of materials, such as documents, papers, digital records and files, photographs, and other artifacts deemed to have historical or enduring value or interest. An archive can also be a physical or virtual location where such collections are stored and preserved.


What is a family archive?

A family archive is a collection of documents, papers, photographs, and memorabilia of an immediate or extended family, family foundation, or family company that is meaningful to and has historical, sentimental, and intrinsic value to the members of that family or organization.


Why should I have a family archive?

A family archive is a great way to preserve and share your family’s stories, traditions, accomplishments, and memories. It can help members of your family understand where your family came from and how it came to be where you are today. 


What should I include in my family archive?

There are no “rules” to what should be in your family archive. It should contain items that have meaning and value to you and your family members. For example, your archive might include letters written by your grandparents or great-grandparents, military records for an ancestor, home movies or videos of family events, family recipes, a family bible, etc.


How can Out of the Attic Family Archives Consultants help me?We are experienced archivists/librarians and family historians. We have worked with a wide array of materials, including letters, family bibles, diaries, photographs of various formats, and digital media, and we know how to best preserve and protect them. We also have a network of other legacy professionals who can assist with photographic reproduction and restoration, textile preservation, and more.


Do I need a professional archivist to create a family archive? 

No. It is not necessary to hire a professional archivist to create your own family archive. You can certainly undertake this as a DIY project, but we recommend at least consulting with a professional archivist. An archivist can help you clarify your goals, set up an organization system, evaluate different preservation approaches, select archival products to meet your needs, and develop preservation plans, especially for digital materials. We’re happy to work with you on DIY projects.


Should I create a family archive if I don’t have family to leave my archive to?

Definitely. Creating a family archive offers several benefits. First, it helps you identify, organize, and preserve what you have in your possession, including items of historical and/or monetary value. Second, it gives you an organized and structured way to understand your family’s past and, perhaps, recognize patterns or gain new awareness. Third, while you may not have family to leave your archive to, a community, historical, or educational archive may appreciate it for its contribution to a broader story.


Will Out of the Attic Family Archives Consultants scan and digitize all my family documents and photographs?

For most projects, we can scan and digitize materials. However, because we follow archival practices and scan items individually, we are not equipped to do high volume scanning - that is, thousands of photographs or documents. If you have this type of project, please give us a call, so we can help explore your options and/or refer you to someone within our network of legacy professionals.


How do you estimate the cost for full-service processing of a family archive?

Our pricing estimates are based on our time and the archival preservation supplies we think it will take to complete your project, taking into account the type, volume, and condition of your materials. Our estimate is a best guess of the total price to complete the work. If additional time or supplies are required, we will always talk with you first.


Do you offer your services to clients outside of the DC metropolitan area?

Yes. We’re happy to work with clients in other parts of the country. We can provide consultations by phone, videoconferencing, or in person (if you're in the DC area). For full-service processing or digital archive services, additional charges for travel and/or shipping of materials will apply.


What other services do you offer?

In addition to Our Services, we also offer the following services based on staff availability:

  • Transcription of handwritten letters and diaries
  • Researching repositories that may be interested in your family archive
  • Writing family histories
  • Speaking at your event


Can Out of the Attic Family Archives Consultants tell me how much my stuff (such as an old book) is worth?

No. We do not offer appraisal services. Since this is a specialized area of expertise, we recommend you consult the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and/or the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA).

Other Questions or Comments?

Email us at Info@FamilyArchivesConsultants.com or complete the form on the Contact Us page.