How to store your important family documents

While digital copies of photos and documents are preferable, more easily sent and manipulated, and closer to permanent, we all have hard copies of photos and original documents. And while we live in an increasingly digital world, I believe in keeping the best of both resources, even duplicative ones. So, storage.

I checked into it a while back, and there are some means of home document and photo storage that are waterproof, fireproof and affordable.

U.S. Patrol JB5076 Fire Resistant Document Bag

U.S. Patrol JB5076 Fire Resistant Document Bag

The first and least expensive guaranteed fire-resistant storage options is the document bag. Amazon.com sells these for about $8.00 apiece; the price fluctuates and they are available at numerous other tool and office supply websites. I use one bag for birth certificates, one for marriage, one for divorce and one for death. I also use one for grave and cemetery-related documents and one each for photos by family name. Finally, I use one for each hereditary society that I belong to (The Daughters of the American Revolution, for instance). This gives me some fire-resistance apart from any storage unit or cabinet and allows me to travel with whatever set of documents or photos I like, independent of all others.

SentrySafe H4300SG

SentrySafe H4300SG

The more important storage, however, is the fireproof and waterproof safe or file box. I use a SentrySafe H4300SG Fire-Safe Waterproof Security File, also available in different sizes from Amazon.com. The one I’m showing here is .7 cubic feet and sells for about $50.00 (with price fluctuations). It’s great for an average personal family historian. There are larger-sized safes from the same company.  You can get fancy with a digital lock or a combination lock, or stick with the simplicity of a key. Even with the fire- and water-proofing, I use the document bags above inside the storage for organizational and safety purposes. The best thing about a file box or safe is its portability; if I ever have to run away from a storm or fire, I know that I can get my originals into the car quickly, and then go back for the cats. Well, maybe vice-versa, but either way, escape will be easier.

I hope that these suggestions help you to keep your precious and irreplaceable photos and documents secure.