Saturday, September 13, 2008

What Would I Take In A Disaster?

Julie Cahill Tarr over at GenBlog has posed an interesting topic which makes for a good blogging or journaling prompt:
Because my mom lives in constant fear of forest fires, she has an evacuation plan in place. Instead of fretting over what to take during a stressful evacuation, she grabs the list and starts packing. Even though I don't live in constant threat of forest fires, there are several other disasters that could occur.

I'm willing to bet that all of us family historians have files upon files of research used to construct our trees. I'm sure there are some of us who have some sort of "plan" to back up data on our computers or store hard-copies in fire-proof safes or in another location (if you don't, I suggest you have a plan in place). While some of these items could be replaced, such a death certificates, census data, etc.) there are some things that absolutely cannot be replaced. I'm talking about family heirlooms.

Many of us are so concerned with all of the records we've accumulated because of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into finding them, they we may overlook these precious heirlooms. So, following in the footsteps of my mom, I'm going to think long and hard and develop my own disaster plan.

I'm also interested to see what family heirloom(s) you would risk saving in the event of a disaster. Write a post on your blog explaining what you would save and why (include a picture if you like). If you'd like to participate, please send me an email with the link to your post by September 13.
And with Hurricane Gustav gone, Ike here and who knows which tropical visitor will appear next, this is a good time for me to think about a) what possessions are most meaningful to me, b) where those items are right now, and c) which would I take with me in the event of an emergency.

1. The Sullivan-O'Keefe Wedding Silver

This is a very simple, handmade sterling silver set that I described here for the 55th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.   Consisting of twelve forks with very long tines, twelve knives and three serving spoons hand-engraved with the name "O'Keefe," I know that the set was treasured by my 3 times great-grandmother Catherine Sullivan O'Keefe.  I know where the set is but I really want to get a better storage mechanism for it - either a tarnish proof bag or a small chest.

2. My Great-Grandmother's Floradora Doll

I wrote about this doll which belonged to my great-grandmother Therese McGinnis Austin as she grew up at the turn of the 20th century.  In A Man With Dolls, I described the doll which came from Germany and is in desparate need of repair.  I really need to restore this doll to its former glory by taking it over to the doll hospital in Lincoln Park here in Chicago.  Then I can hold on to it for a few more years before I give it to my niece Rosie in Virginia Beach who I know will cherish it as have many of the women in my family.

3. The External Hard Drive

The keys to the kingdom as far as I'm concerned.  If I ever needed to startup my computer-based ventures (blogging, employment, etc.) after a disaster, I will need my data which is faithfully backed up each month.  The drive is small (7 inches x 5 inches) and can be grabbed in seconds and placed in a box or carried by hand.  All my genealogy research and scanned photos are here as well.

4. My Painting

I will probably go more into depth on this item in a future Cabinet of Curiosities carnival, but this 8" x 12" painting was executed by me during my art studies in college.  A copy of "Girl and Her Duena" by Murillo, you can barely see the numbers underneath the paint (lol) but I did make it from scratch (meaning I primed the Belgian linen, stretched it, ground my own pigments, etc.) and it means quite a bit to me.

5. The Family Jewels

No, not those - I never have to worry as to where they are.  I have two items that mean more from a sentimental value perspective than their financial value.

My diamond stud earrings that I wear in each ear mean quite a bit to me.  After I survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco (squeezing under my desk on the 38th floor of Embarcadero Center), I decided to mark such an event by getting my ears pierced.  And shortly after my 40th birthday I treated myself to a pair of 1/4 carat D color, IF clarity, Asscher cut diamonds.  They are unique and the cut/style is not one you see everyday.  Each time I see them I think back to how I survived that day in October, 1989.

The rings I had made from several items of family jewelry including old wedding bands and diamonds.  I designed these and worked with a jeweler back in San Francisco.  Each time I wear them, I am taking many generations in my hand and they travel with me on every journey.

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