Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 07, 2012, 06:42:50 PM

Title: Who gets the family documents? Update post 71
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 07, 2012, 06:42:50 PM
My aunt recently was moved into a nursing home.  Her daughter “Cuz1” managed the move and cleared out Aunt’s house.  I told Cuz1 that if there were old family documents she didn’t want, I would like to have them.  Cuz1 sent me several large boxes of wonderful stuff.  It will take me years to sort through it all, but I’ve already come across photos, letters, and genealogical records for Cuz1’s father’s family (not blood related to me).

Cuz1 and I have a bond, but we communicate only occasionally, mostly about her mother.  I am much closer to her brother “Cuz2”, who has an interest in genealogy.   I informed Cuz2 what I’d found and said I’d send it to him.  He was excited about it.

Yesterday I spoke to Cuz1 on the phone, and she was upset that I was planning to send the documents to her brother.  She says she doesn’t want the documents permanently, but wants to look through them.  She demanded I send them to her. She said she would forward them to her brother later, but she doesn’t always get around to doing the things she says she’ll do. 

So, to whom do I send the documents? And what do I say to the other cuz?

- I promised the documents to Cuz2 first.
- Cuz1 showed no interest in the documents before she found out I’d promised them to Cuz2.  She did not examine the contents of the boxes before sending them to me.
- Cuz1 spent a large sum to ship the boxes and refused reimbursement.
- Most of the documents cannot be copied easily.







Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 07, 2012, 06:47:48 PM
I think Cuz1 did the work of cleaning, not to mention the expense you mentioned.  IMO they should have been offered back to her first.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: despedina on December 07, 2012, 06:56:47 PM
If Cuz1 had siblings why didn't she ask them if they wanted the documents first? This is very confusing to me.  Does Cuz1 not talk to Cuz2?
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 07, 2012, 07:01:42 PM
If Cuz1 had siblings why didn't she ask them if they wanted the documents first? This is very confusing to me.  Does Cuz1 not talk to Cuz2?

My understanding is that the stuff OP was taking was more directly connecter to her relatives.  I would imagine that just moving her mom and everything out was probably pretty time consuming. In addition, she might be primarily responsible for visiting her mom so sorting through all of that is pretty time consuming.

I mean, one might just as easily ask why Cuz2 didn't help pack up the house and move things out if he had an intrest in any of those documents.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: misha412 on December 07, 2012, 08:24:14 PM
My aunt recently was moved into a nursing home.  Her daughter “Cuz1” managed the move and cleared out Aunt’s house.  I told Cuz1 that if there were old family documents she didn’t want, I would like to have them.  Cuz1 sent me several large boxes of wonderful stuff.  It will take me years to sort through it all, but I’ve already come across photos, letters, and genealogical records for Cuz1’s father’s family (not blood related to me).

Cuz1 and I have a bond, but we communicate only occasionally, mostly about her mother.  I am much closer to her brother “Cuz2”, who has an interest in genealogy.   I informed Cuz2 what I’d found and said I’d send it to him.  He was excited about it.

Yesterday I spoke to Cuz1 on the phone, and she was upset that I was planning to send the documents to her brother.  She says she doesn’t want the documents permanently, but wants to look through them.  She demanded I send them to her. She said she would forward them to her brother later, but she doesn’t always get around to doing the things she says she’ll do. 

So, to whom do I send the documents? And what do I say to the other cuz?

- I promised the documents to Cuz2 first.
- Cuz1 showed no interest in the documents before she found out I’d promised them to Cuz2.  She did not examine the contents of the boxes before sending them to me.
- Cuz1 spent a large sum to ship the boxes and refused reimbursement.
- Most of the documents cannot be copied easily.

Cuz1 gave you the documents with no conditions attached. There was no notice that if you found something you didn't want that it would go back to Cuz1. So, I think you should go ahead and send them to Cuz2. You promised them to Cuz2 after Cuz1 expressed no interest.

You may have to deal with Cuz1 having hurt feelings though.

I have to put in my two cents worth here as a genealogist. When someone who has zero interest in family history decides to hang on to family documents, photos, etc. with no intention of sharing them, most often those items get tossed in the trash when they die. That is invaluable information as far as a family historian is concerned.

I had a great-uncle die last year. He was long the family historian. He had mentioned leaving his documentation to me when he died as I was the only one in his family (he had no children) that showed any interest. However, because he didn't document that fact in a will, the documents/photos got tossed or taken by someone who had zero interest. I have no idea where they went. Basically 50 years of his research gone.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Rohanna on December 07, 2012, 08:28:50 PM
Do you have a smartphone? Mine has a document scanner app on it. It's not perfect, but it's better than trying to lift and place something fragile onto a scanner/copier- and sometimes a picture "works" better for thin paper than a scan. I would do my best to copy things- mostly because I'd want it for myself too :)
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: crella on December 07, 2012, 08:38:26 PM
With something like that I would ask/tell Cuz1 before doing anything with them. The emotional toll this takes is sometimes enormous.  I cleaned out MILs house ending in March and then had to go and do my mother's house this past August, September and November. It is a draining job as you are constantly making decisions, from sunup to sundown. There really isn't any room in your brain to think about what will happen to things a bit down the road. Cuz1 may have given the documents to CrazyDaffodilLady because she said she'd like to have them, and thought they would stay with her (therefore they were 'stored' and safe). If it were my parent's stuff I would want to be asked if it could be passed on.

I'd say just talk to both of them. Cuz1 may be tired and emotionally drained and may be overreacting because of that tiredness. Surely Cuz2 can understand her feelings.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sara Crewe on December 07, 2012, 09:12:57 PM
The other issue of course is whether Cuz1 has any more right to these items than Cuz2.  I get on well with my sisters, but I'd be furious if one chose to give away family heirlooms to an unrelated persons (which the OP is to the side of the family to whom the documents belong) when she knew I was interested in them (based on the OP saying Cuz2 is interested in geneology).

Is there some issue between Cuz1 and Cuz2 that prevented him being offered the items first?  If he was offered and turned them down, I'd say return to Cuz1 but otherwise, he's got as much right to the documents as his sister.  I'd be inclined to get them in the post to Cuz2 immediately and tell Cuz1 I'd already sent them.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 07, 2012, 09:21:07 PM
My understanding is the family's documents all wnet in a box together.  Some of those are OP's side of the family and thus are people she is related to. The other papers she wouldn't have an interest in and Cuz1 might have expected back.  As crella pointed out this is somebody who had to move her mother into a nursing home and empty out the house.  Figuring out which papers OP would want and which she wouldn't is probably a bit too much in the middle of all that.  Letting OP search through all of it might be helpful.

As far as Cuz2 , did he know his mom was going into a nursing home?  Did he know the house was being emptied?  At that point I would think he should express an interest in whatever and ideally some sort of offer to help with the work and expense.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 07, 2012, 09:47:42 PM
More info: Cuz1 has been through a difficult time caring for her mother and clearing out the house.  Cuz2 was of little help, partially due to medical issues.  I got the boxes because I asked for them.  Otherwise they would’ve gone into storage and possibly been lost eventually. 

No one knew what was in the boxes, but logically there would’ve been things for three family lines: Lines A and B from our shared grandparents and line C from cousins’ father.  I am the primary keeper / historian / genealogist for line A.  A second cousin is the keeper for line B.  My aunt was the keeper for line C, but had a lot of old stuff for lines A and B.  I’m pretty sure that Cuz2 will become the keeper for line C.  My genealogist’s instinct is to give the documents to Cuz2.  However, Cuz1 did all the work in getting the boxes to me, for which I am grateful. 

Cuz1 and Cuz2 are not totally estranged, but there is little communication between them. 

Incidentally, there was 130 pounds of history in the boxes. I am thrilled.

The problem with copying/scanning is that the most valuable genealogical documents are over-sized and in bound volumes. 


Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Acadianna on December 07, 2012, 11:10:34 PM
Nothing unusual about being keeper for family to which someone has no blood relation.  My DH, for example, is an avid genealogist (as far as I know, the only one in my family) and has done as much research on my ancestry as he has on his own.  I would say he's definitely the keeper for both my father's and mother's lines.

One of my cousins (no blood relation to DH) recently went onto ancestry.com, with the intent of getting into genealogy and researching our family.  He immediately sent a message to my husband, saying, "You already did it!"  (We aren't sure whether he was excited about all the information or disappointed that it was a done deal.)

So -- I'd say:  scan, photograph, and/or copy as much of the documentation as you can.  Copies can go to anyone who merely wants to see the information, and the originals should go to whoever is most likely (and perhaps best qualified) to preserve these items of family history.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 08, 2012, 12:29:50 AM
For the sake of family harmony, you should give back to Cuz1.  It isn't your decision to make as a non-blood family member.  This should be between her and her brother.   Did Cuz2 assist in the care of the mother or was it all on Cuz1?

People become sentimental and reflective after losing a parent.  You said yourself that she cared for her mother before she died.   She could have been overwhelmed after caring for her mom and dealing with the death.   I think it would be really mean for you to hold onto the stuff.  It really isn't your decision to make... your cousin could have still be in grief when she gave you the box. 

Sure, you could pull the 'she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore' card, but do you really want to tarnish family relations over something sentimental to her?  It is not our place to determine that and the kind thing to do is give her back the family momentos. 





Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on December 08, 2012, 01:11:40 AM
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: NyaChan on December 08, 2012, 01:32:06 AM
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

Agreed.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: bonyk on December 08, 2012, 05:22:25 AM
Imagine if instead of documents, it was a chess set.  Cuz1 does not play chess; Cuz2 belongs to a Chess Club.  Logically, the chess set should go to Cuz2, and Cuz1 is being a . . . silly goose.

I'd wait a couple of weeks, and try reasoning with Cuz1.  I'd point out to her that future generations would benefit from Cuz2 getting the documents. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: crella on December 08, 2012, 05:43:01 AM
For the sake of family harmony, you should give back to Cuz1.  It isn't your decision to make as a non-blood family member.  This should be between her and her brother.   Did Cuz2 assist in the care of the mother or was it all on Cuz1?

People become sentimental and reflective after losing a parent.  You said yourself that she cared for her mother before she died.   She could have been overwhelmed after caring for her mom and dealing with the death.   I think it would be really mean for you to hold onto the stuff.  It really isn't your decision to m.ake... your cousin could have still be in grief when she gave you the box. 

Sure, you could pull the 'she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore' card, but do you really want to tarnish family relations over something sentimental to her?  It is not our place to determine that and the kind thing to do is give her back the family momentos.

I don't know that the parent passed away, I think she was moved into a nursing home or assisted living. Even so , it's a tremendous emotional investment to do this kind of move.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 07:58:20 AM
I don't think the chess set analogy is the best. Cuz2 has an intierest in genealogy that Cuz1 does not.  However, that does not mean Cuz1 has no interest in ny of these pictures and papers.  Genealogy is not the only motivation one would have for wanting those papers or photos - or at least the chance to see them.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Thipu1 on December 08, 2012, 09:01:52 AM
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

Agreed.

I also agree with this.  You may be the temporary holder of the documents but the discussion really should be between Cuzz1 and Cuzz2. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 08, 2012, 09:31:50 AM
For the sake of family harmony, you should give back to Cuz1.  It isn't your decision to make as a non-blood family member.  This should be between her and her brother.   Did Cuz2 assist in the care of the mother or was it all on Cuz1?

People become sentimental and reflective after losing a parent.  You said yourself that she cared for her mother before she died.   She could have been overwhelmed after caring for her mom and dealing with the death.   I think it would be really mean for you to hold onto the stuff.  It really isn't your decision to make... your cousin could have still be in grief when she gave you the box. 

Sure, you could pull the 'she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore' card, but do you really want to tarnish family relations over something sentimental to her?  It is not our place to determine that and the kind thing to do is give her back the family momentos.

You have misinterpreted the situation quite a bit.  I'm offended at being told it would be mean of me to do something that I quite clearly have no intention of doing. It is indeed my decision to make as to which cousin gets the original documents for their family, and it's a sticky situation, which is why I posted here.

I have not pulled the "she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore" card.  I don't know where you got that idea.

My "place" is to sort through the boxes of documents, to sort and catalog them, and to pass them on to their rightful owners, which has to be determined by me.  It will take a huge amount of time, effort, and expense to do this, but I'm happy to do it because I consider the documents to be an invaluable treasure.

An, as has been pointed out, Aunt did not die. She's in a nursing home.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: HenrysMom on December 08, 2012, 09:46:45 AM
Unless Aunt has stated otherwise, the documents belong equally to both her children.  If Aunt is still in her right mind, she should be the one to determine who gets the boxes.

Otherwise, I agree with a PP to let the siblings hash out who gets these documents.  Perhaps you could set up a time with both of them and let them go through the boxes together.  Do not give the boxes to one sibling or the other until they come to a mutual decision.

Another idea is to have Cuz2 come and look at the documents and let him take notes, take pictures with his phone, or drive him to Kinko's to copy the ones he really wants.
 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Queen of Clubs on December 08, 2012, 09:49:25 AM
My "place" is to sort through the boxes of documents, to sort and catalog them, and to pass them on to their rightful owners, which has to be determined by me.  It will take a huge amount of time, effort, and expense to do this, but I'm happy to do it because I consider the documents to be an invaluable treasure.

An, as has been pointed out, Aunt did not die. She's in a nursing home.

Can you communicate with your Aunt?  If so, can you ask her who she'd prefer to have them?

If not, I'd go with giving them to Cuz2.  He's the one who'll be the primary custodian for any genealogical research, so it makes sense to give them to him.  It sounds to me (though I could be wrong) that it's not that Cuz1 wants the documents, she just doesn't want her brother to have them.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 09:51:23 AM
That seems like an interesting and insulting assumption.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 08, 2012, 10:07:48 AM
That seems like an interesting and insulting assumption.
. . . but not necessarily unwarranted.  I do think sibling rivalry or resentment may be a factor with Cuz1.

Aunt's mental state is iffy.  I was asked not to mention to her that the stuff had been given to me. 

Incidentally, everyone in this drama lives in a different city, not close to each other.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Girlie on December 08, 2012, 10:24:57 AM
My advice would be to wait it out. You've said already that there's tons of stuff to go through and you don't really know when you'll be done with it all. Would it be possible to just set the whole thing aside for the time being? If asked, you could just say you're "still sorting" or something.

In time, maybe Cuz1 will come to her senses. Or maybe Cuz2 will run away to a foreign country and learn a new language and become a professional turkey baster and you'll never see him again - problem solved, right?  ;)
Anyway, as emotions seem to be high right now, maybe just waiting it out for a bit would allow both cousins to process the current situation properly and in time, they can be allowed to go through the things together and determine who gets what.
 
If not.... I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help to you. :(
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: QuiltLady on December 08, 2012, 10:30:44 AM
Cuz2 has just as much right to the documents as does Cuz1, in addition to him being the one that is willing and able to utilize them.  IMO, give them to Cuz2 and let them go through them together.  Cuz1 had a chance to see what exactly she was giving you and if they didn't mean anything to her at the time, why do they now?  Maybe just because Cuz2 wants them.

Reminds me of when my mother passed away.  There was something that was my grandmother's, that was given to my mother, and my older sister said that this should now be given to my mother's sister.  I said no.  Aunt has no more right to it than one of us girls do.  We are just as much of a relative of grandmother and it was given to our mother, not HER sister.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 10:47:42 AM
But fidn't Cuz2 also have a chance to say"I'd like a chance to see pictures and documents when he found out his mom would be moving out and his sister would bw ckeaning the house? Maybe offer money for shipping/copies/help?

And just because Cuz1 wouldn't be using it for genealogy doesn't mean she wouldn't use/enjoy it.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on December 08, 2012, 12:05:21 PM
I really think you should send them to Cuz1, as she was the one who was looking after your aunt and she is the one who went to the trouble and expense of sending the boxes to you.  She was probably stressed and short of time due to moving her mother into a home and that may be why she didn't look through them.  Photos and family documents are not the kind of thing that are only of interest to genealogists after all, and they are not the kind of thing that can easily be replaced.  You're indebted to Cuz1 as she took the time to get the boxes to you in the first place.  Honestly, I think it was a mistake to offer them to Cuz2 without discussing it with Cuz1 first.  If Cuz2 really wants the documents and photos he can sort it out with Cuz1 directly. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: O'Dell on December 08, 2012, 12:40:09 PM
I told Cuz1 that if there were old family documents she didn’t want, I would like to have them.

I think you should give anything you don't want back to Cuz1. You asked for "old family documents" for your own family. Anything you else you find in the boxes that doesn't fit that description should go back to the person that gave them to you. Since Cuz1 is taking on the responsibility of taking care of her mother's possessions, she should have them back to distribute them per her mother's wishes.

Also, I may have missed it but are you sure that Cuz2 will be the keeper of family documents for their family? Is it possible that there are relatives on your cousins side who you don't know that keep that sort of thing for their dad's family?
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 08, 2012, 12:49:06 PM
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

Agreed.

Yes, I like this better than my previous answer.  I still believe they should go back to immediate family, but agree it isn't your decision.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 08, 2012, 12:58:06 PM
For the sake of family harmony, you should give back to Cuz1.  It isn't your decision to make as a non-blood family member.  This should be between her and her brother.   Did Cuz2 assist in the care of the mother or was it all on Cuz1?

People become sentimental and reflective after losing a parent.  You said yourself that she cared for her mother before she died.   She could have been overwhelmed after caring for her mom and dealing with the death.   I think it would be really mean for you to hold onto the stuff.  It really isn't your decision to make... your cousin could have still be in grief when she gave you the box. 

Sure, you could pull the 'she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore' card, but do you really want to tarnish family relations over something sentimental to her?  It is not our place to determine that and the kind thing to do is give her back the family momentos.

You have misinterpreted the situation quite a bit.  I'm offended at being told it would be mean of me to do something that I quite clearly have no intention of doing. It is indeed my decision to make as to which cousin gets the original documents for their family, and it's a sticky situation, which is why I posted here.

I have not pulled the "she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore" card.  I don't know where you got that idea.

My "place" is to sort through the boxes of documents, to sort and catalog them, and to pass them on to their rightful owners, which has to be determined by me.  It will take a huge amount of time, effort, and expense to do this, but I'm happy to do it because I consider the documents to be an invaluable treasure.

An, as has been pointed out, Aunt did not die. She's in a nursing home.

You are misinterpreting and taking offense when none was intended. 

They are not your documents to decide.  This is a sentimental family issue and as others stated, should be duked out by the siblings.  The pulling the card statement was not meant as you took it.  Here at Ehell, we discuss all the time that once a gift is received, it is 'yours' to do with as you wish.  However, given the sentimentality and familial harmony issue here, it would be mean for you to hold onto them.  Whomever you decide to give them to, the other will resent you. 

As you stated they are THEIR family documents.  Not yours.  Given the stress of Cuz1 dealing with her ailing mom (sorry, I did get that part wrong... reading on a phone is difficult at times), I can see why she made a rash decision giving them to you. 

The point is, even if Cuz2 is interested in geneaology, it is not your decision, even if Cuz1 gave them to you.  The two siblings should discuss and decide.  Otherwise, no matter what you choose, you will be the bad guy to the non-chosen one.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Yvaine on December 08, 2012, 02:18:00 PM
But fidn't Cuz2 also have a chance to say"I'd like a chance to see pictures and documents when he found out his mom would be moving out and his sister would bw ckeaning the house? Maybe offer money for shipping/copies/help?

From my reading of the thread, he both has a health issue and lives far away. He didn't just not help to be a grinch. Add in that the siblings don't communicate much, and we don't know how much warning of the move he got, either.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 03:25:49 PM
I an talking about simpy saying "Please give me anything like documents or picturez". Since he was able to tell OP that despite distance and health issues I would think he coyld tell his sister.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on December 08, 2012, 03:29:46 PM
Yes, the OP was able to get them so if they were that important to Cuz2 he could have done the same.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: NyaChan on December 08, 2012, 03:32:14 PM

You have misinterpreted the situation quite a bit.  I'm offended at being told it would be mean of me to do something that I quite clearly have no intention of doing. It is indeed my decision to make as to which cousin gets the original documents for their family, and it's a sticky situation, which is why I posted here.

I have not pulled the "she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore" card.  I don't know where you got that idea.

My "place" is to sort through the boxes of documents, to sort and catalog them, and to pass them on to their rightful owners, which has to be determined by me.  It will take a huge amount of time, effort, and expense to do this, but I'm happy to do it because I consider the documents to be an invaluable treasure.

An, as has been pointed out, Aunt did not die. She's in a nursing home.


I'm sorry OP, but it is in no way your decision who these document belong to.  They belong to your aunt and since she is unable to make a decision in her current state, the decision of who gets them is up to her children (ETA:  or whoever is in charge or her possessions or legal decisions which isn't an etiquette issue).  That means that both your cousins should talk it out and decide where the documents will go, regardless of who you think owns them or will in your opinion make better use of them.  It is not your place to determine who the rightful owners are.

ETA: Your etiquette issue is how to respond to these requests from the cousins I think.  The best response is to politely say "I am happy to sort through these items and let you and your siblings know what is in here.  If you know who is in charge of decision-making for Aunt, please let me know, and I will speak to them about returning the documents to the rightful owner."
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 03:41:35 PM
Since Cuz1 is taking care of things does she have legal power of attorny or something?
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 08, 2012, 03:45:28 PM
O.P. here.  How have I wound up being the bad guy?  I'm the person who cared enough about the documents to make an effort to rescue them (with gratitude to Cuz1 for sending them) and am the only person willing to sort through them.  Only a small portion of the 130 pounds of documents are for the cousins' separate family.  I do not want the cousins' family documents.  I want to turn them over to the right person, and the whole point of this thread was to determine who that is. 

At this point, I agree that it's probably best to let the cousins duke it out.  I will make an effort to make high quality copies (as much as possible) for the loser.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: DavidH on December 08, 2012, 03:59:00 PM
If your aunt's mental state is adequate, I'd tell her you're interested in family history and would like to look through the documents, but also know that Cuz1 and Cuz2 would like them.  Had she thought about who she'd like to pass them on to when the time comes.  It's not a perfect representation of the situation as it stands now, but it would be one way of getting aunt's input without explicitly telling her that her home was cleaned out which it sounds like you don't' want to do. 

If you can't get her input, I think the idea of making copies so that everyone has access is the best solution, as far as that is practical.  For an odd sized document, a high quality digital picture can be a good option too, if scanning doesn't work.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 08, 2012, 04:12:45 PM
The most valuable of the genealogical documents are over three feet wide and are in a bound volume.

I have been clearly instructed not to involve my aunt, a decision I agree with.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Miss Unleaded on December 08, 2012, 04:23:53 PM
...
I have been clearly instructed not to involve my aunt, a decision I agree with.

I don't think you're the bad guy.  But I do agree with everyone who said to let the siblings hash it out between themselves and not to get involved.  If you make a decision based on who you think will appreciate it more, likely someone is going to get their knickers in a bunch and they will probably blame you.

If I understand correctly, you are worried that Cuz1 will keep the documents or dispose of them instead of passing them onto Cuz2, correct?  Can you call Cuz2 and give him a rough idea of what documents there are and ask him to hash it out with CUz1?  That way you will put the decision back on those two and avoid getting involved.

Perhaps I am biased but I am thinking of my own family here.  Neither of my parents are particularly interested in genealogy but they do like to look at old photos and read old documents.  A year ago my grandfather died and one of my aunts took a bunch of papers (amongst other stuff).  My parents asked her to be allowed to scan some of the photos and take a look through what was there, and to my knowledge she won't let them.  It's a bit of a sore spot for my father because the only thing he wanted from the estate was copies of the family photos. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Deetee on December 08, 2012, 05:03:55 PM
You mentioned that some of the documents are odd shapes etc.. I just downloaded an app for my phone (camscanner) that was free that allows me to convert pictures to pdf as you photograph them.

edit: I know I gave only practical advice, but I think that after you are done with them, you could contact Cuz 2 and say "Hey, it turns out Cuz1 wants the documents back and as she is the one who gave to me, I think I should give them back to her. Sorry about that. But, I made scans of a bunch of stuff so did you want those?"

Or you could send all the scans to both Cuz1 and Cuz2 and send a joint email saying you are done with the documents for yourself and ask them to decide between themselves who you should send the documents too.

(I might have missed something, but it sounded like the documents in question are actually a small part of the overall 150 pounds)
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Shoo on December 08, 2012, 06:00:19 PM
I really don't see where you have any decision to make here.  Since Cuz1 is who gave them to you, that is who you should return them to.  And after you do that, call Cuz2 and tell him that you gave them to his sister, and he should get in touch with her if he decides he wants any of it. 

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 08, 2012, 06:59:49 PM
Some thoughts

Good people make mistakes.  Posters saying they believe you made a mistake is in no way making you " the bad guy".

That being said, I don't think you were heroic either.  You asked for something you wanted and in the middle of taking care of the house and her mom Cuz1 obliged by sending it to you.  Unless there were major details missing from all your posts, like Cuz1 announcing she intended to throw out all documents and photos I see no reason to claim you rescued them.  Rescued from what/whom? At the very least Cuz was a co-rescuer.

I do think you made a mistake in not offering what was left or of no use to you back to the person that went to the trouble and expense of providing them to you in the first place.  I do not think you were a/the bad guy.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: dawbs on December 08, 2012, 10:05:11 PM
Yes, the OP was able to get them so if they were that important to Cuz2 he could have done the same.

Not necessarily.
I would pass on, in a heartbeat, some of the originals of family paperwork I have inherited to Sis1 or cousins 2-8 (my grandma's recipes, etc)
I would not pass them on easily to sis 2 or cousins 1, 9-13, etc.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: SpottedPony on December 09, 2012, 09:49:06 AM
How about this, when you get all of your Aunt's stuff sorted out of what belongs to your family, make a detailed inventory of it, including what can and can not be scanned and copies made, and send a copy of the inventory to each of the cousins.  Ask them to thrash out who gets what, then you'll copy what can be copied, and send each what they aggreed that they want. 

Can these items be sorted as to their importance to a geneologist?  Then the documents most import to geneologist would go to cos2, and the rest to cos1, with their approval, of course. 

Good luck.

Spotted Pony
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Minmom3 on December 09, 2012, 12:37:51 PM
The most valuable of the genealogical documents are over three feet wide and are in a bound volume.

I have been clearly instructed not to involve my aunt, a decision I agree with.

Do you have a camera and a tripod you could set up to take pictures of the documents while the relevant pages are weighted open?  Is the entire bound volume of interest or just a few assorted pages?  What a neat opportunity to have to be able to look at old documents like that, even if it is labor intensive for you. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: misha412 on December 09, 2012, 02:16:41 PM
O.P. here.  How have I wound up being the bad guy?  I'm the person who cared enough about the documents to make an effort to rescue them (with gratitude to Cuz1 for sending them) and am the only person willing to sort through them.  Only a small portion of the 130 pounds of documents are for the cousins' separate family.  I do not want the cousins' family documents.  I want to turn them over to the right person, and the whole point of this thread was to determine who that is. 

At this point, I agree that it's probably best to let the cousins duke it out.  I will make an effort to make high quality copies (as much as possible) for the loser.

You are not the bad guy. You are a genealogist given custody of family documents. I understand your desire to give the other family's documents to Cuz2 because of his love of family history. It is what a responsible genealogist would do instead of handing them over to someone you know has no interest in the value of the documents.

Unfortunately, I have similar challenges in my own family. I have family members who think that having a box of documents and photos sitting in an attic forgotten and molding is better than letting someone who would appreciate them have the box. Possession means more to them than appreciating the contents.

As for the ledgers, a tripod and a high definition camera can do the copying pretty well. Just check the clarity and detail of each photo before going to the next page. If you want to shoot down towards a flat surface like the floor, look at getting a tripod with a removable and reversible center column that allows you to mount the camera underneath the tripod. You can set up the pages beneath and point the camera downward.

But, given the size of the pages, this may not work as the legs may not be wide enough. Another option is to get an artist's stand to place the ledger and then focus the camera on the pages.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: bopper on December 09, 2012, 03:44:41 PM
"Oh, I have already sent them to Cuz 2. I will ask him to scan them in and send a copy to you."
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: O'Dell on December 09, 2012, 08:36:59 PM
OP, I think some of us are reacting to your statements about you being the one to decide where they go. You aren't the one to decide. You mistakenly got some documents. It doesn't matter that you promised them to Cuz2. It wasn't your place to do that. That was some serious overstepping, IMO. Of course maybe I'm just speaking for myself there. ;)

Personally I think they should go back to the person who gave them to you, Cuz1. But hanging on to them while the cousins hash it out is a decent option as well.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: nolechica on December 09, 2012, 08:40:25 PM
"Oh, I have already sent them to Cuz 2. I will ask him to scan them in and send a copy to you."

This, I would send to the family genealogist first. /historian
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: DCGirl on December 10, 2012, 09:20:29 AM
O.P. here.  How have I wound up being the bad guy? 

Because no good deed goes unpunished? 

I'm the bad guy in my family because I objected to a cousin's forwarding photos that I shared with her only and they all ended up being widely published online.   I've come to the conclusion that every family needs to have a designated bad guy in times of stress, and this year it's my turn.  Next year, it will be someone else's.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Jaelle on December 10, 2012, 10:15:12 AM
OP, I think some of us are reacting to your statements about you being the one to decide where they go. You aren't the one to decide. You mistakenly got some documents. It doesn't matter that you promised them to Cuz2. It wasn't your place to do that. That was some serious overstepping, IMO. Of course maybe I'm just speaking for myself there. ;)

Whoa, how did the OP mistakenly get the documents? Cuz1 sent them to her on purpose. There was no mistake there.

I do agree that the OP may have overstepped by offering them to Cuz2 next, but I see why she did it. She seems to have had reason to believe Cuz1 would not be interested.

OP, if everyone's amenable, can you act as a mediator between the two siblings? See if they can figure out who would like to see what or arrange an agreement that Cuz1 will have them for a period of time and then forward them to Cuz2? I know it's work you didn't sign up to do, but if you are willing, it might have the best chance of the documents winding up where they're appreciated with no noses out of joint in the meantime.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Winterlight on December 10, 2012, 10:15:21 AM
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

This. I'd remove myself from being the middleman in a potentially contentious discussion.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: O'Dell on December 10, 2012, 11:12:47 AM
OP, I think some of us are reacting to your statements about you being the one to decide where they go. You aren't the one to decide. You mistakenly got some documents. It doesn't matter that you promised them to Cuz2. It wasn't your place to do that. That was some serious overstepping, IMO. Of course maybe I'm just speaking for myself there. ;)

Whoa, how did the OP mistakenly get the documents? Cuz1 sent them to her on purpose. There was no mistake there.

I do agree that the OP may have overstepped by offering them to Cuz2 next, but I see why she did it. She seems to have had reason to believe Cuz1 would not be interested.

OP, if everyone's amenable, can you act as a mediator between the two siblings? See if they can figure out who would like to see what or arrange an agreement that Cuz1 will have them for a period of time and then forward them to Cuz2? I know it's work you didn't sign up to do, but if you are willing, it might have the best chance of the documents winding up where they're appreciated with no noses out of joint in the meantime.

Hmm...I thought the OP said that Cuz1 didn't go thru all the boxes. I'm working under the assumption that the cousins father's family documents ended up in the boxes by mistake. That's the assumption I would make if I had received those boxes: the OP surely only wanted documents from her own family, not some other family. Any that didn't fit her description weren't truly intended for her and should go back where they came from. I've known for that sort of thing to happen. Especially for the amounts of stuff that the OP received.

Also the thing that sticks out for me is that the OP admits to being closer to Cuz2 and the shared genealogy interest. I think those 2 things are clouding your vision, OP. Imagine these things had no genealogical or historical interest. Would you still have been so quick to offer them up to Cuz2?

I think there's the etiquette/ethical thing to do here and the thing you want to do because it makes sense to you with your interest in genealogy. Sure you have the ability to send the items to Cuz2 and might be tempted to, but I think it's the wrong thing to do and there will surely be fallout for your relationship with Cuz1.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 10, 2012, 12:51:26 PM
OP, I think some of us are reacting to your statements about you being the one to decide where they go. You aren't the one to decide. You mistakenly got some documents. It doesn't matter that you promised them to Cuz2. It wasn't your place to do that. That was some serious overstepping, IMO. Of course maybe I'm just speaking for myself there. ;)

Whoa, how did the OP mistakenly get the documents? Cuz1 sent them to her on purpose. There was no mistake there.

I do agree that the OP may have overstepped by offering them to Cuz2 next, but I see why she did it. She seems to have had reason to believe Cuz1 would not be interested.

OP, if everyone's amenable, can you act as a mediator between the two siblings? See if they can figure out who would like to see what or arrange an agreement that Cuz1 will have them for a period of time and then forward them to Cuz2? I know it's work you didn't sign up to do, but if you are willing, it might have the best chance of the documents winding up where they're appreciated with no noses out of joint in the meantime.

The OP did state she is the one to decide.  Many here disagree.  This goes back to what i mentioned earlier that even though Cuz 1 gave them to her, considering they are family documents, the *right* thing to do is give them back.  I don't think acting as the mediator is a good idea b/c one person will be unhappy and she will turn into the bad guy she doesn't want to be. 
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: SPuck on December 10, 2012, 01:15:44 PM
CrazyDaffodilLady was given these documents with no strings attached or pretenses so they became hers after they traded hands. She gets to decide what happens to them, and I wouldn't say just because Cuz 1 helped her mother moved that she could get all the documents. My mother did most of the leg work helping my grandmother move into a nursery home, but she did not feel she had the rights to most of my grandmother's items because of that. She ended up taking in most of the stuff she wanted, but then again my aunt was down in Florida and my uncle wasn't interested in nick knacks. Cuz 1 already had the chance to say no to CrazyDaffodilLady. She doesn't get to attach any extra baggage to them now that they are gone and because Cuz 2 wants them.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: briarrose on December 10, 2012, 06:06:09 PM
CrazyDaffodilLady -

I know I'm jumping in late, but if you have a nicer digital camera or know someone who will lend you one, you can photograph the larger pages and you'll have high-resolution images of them you can put on CDs/DVDs and forward on to both of them.

You can take photographs as you work your way through the originals. I don't think it's rude of you to keep the originals and dig through them, at least for now, since they were sent to you. It would be nice, though, as you go through them, to separate out the family stuff that isn't from "your" family and put them aside for the other family members.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 11, 2012, 12:39:49 PM
CrazyDaffodilLady was given these documents with no strings attached or pretenses so they became hers after they traded hands. She gets to decide what happens to them, and I wouldn't say just because Cuz 1 helped her mother moved that she could get all the documents. My mother did most of the leg work helping my grandmother move into a nursery home, but she did not feel she had the rights to most of my grandmother's items because of that. She ended up taking in most of the stuff she wanted, but then again my aunt was down in Florida and my uncle wasn't interested in nick knacks. Cuz 1 already had the chance to say no to CrazyDaffodilLady. She doesn't get to attach any extra baggage to them now that they are gone and because Cuz 2 wants them.

I disagree.  In any other 'gifting' situation, I would agree with you.  But when it comes to family sentimental documents and items, the *right* thing to do is to return them after taking the documents that pertain to the OP's family.   Keeping them or deciding who gets them will cause hard feelings and resentment towards the OP from the cousin she doesn't choose.  If she wants to risk family harmony, then keep them or give to Cuz 2.  But as others have stated, it could have long lasting and irreparable effects on relationship with Cuz1.    Moreover, since the Aunt is still alive, Cuz1 may not have any right to pass them on to the OP in the first place.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: ettiquit on December 11, 2012, 01:26:12 PM
Considering the OP told asked Cuz1 for any documents that Cuz1 didn't want, why wouldn't she offer them to Cuz2?  I know Cuz1 was dealing with a lot, but she could have 1)waited till she had time to go through everything to make sure there was nothing she wanted (I'm sure the OP would have been patient) or 2)Asked OP to do all the sorting and organizing and to let her know what she found from her father's line.  Instead, when the OP asked for documents Cuz1 didn't want, Cuz1 sent her everything with no comment on the contents.

Regardless of that, I do think the easiest solution would be to send the stuff back to Cuz1 and explain to Cuz2 the situation. 

Scanning/taking pictures of everything for Cuz2 is an incredibly nice gesture.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: Sharnita on December 11, 2012, 01:34:30 PM
I think that what Cuz1 heard was a request for stuff she dodn't want right now. Emptying out mom's house or moving her into a nursing home could drive somebody to distraction, doing both at the same time doesn't lezve a whole lot of room to remember or ponder the exact intent of OP's request.


Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: LadyR on December 11, 2012, 03:49:42 PM
Here's how I see it:

* CDL is the geneologist for her side of the family.
* Aunt had tons of family documents, mostly for her family
* CDL offerrd to sort through all the documents, with the intention of keeping and archiving the documents relevent to her work, which seem to be the lion share.
* Cousin1 did e work of sending the documents to CDL, but didn't seem to have any interest in them
* Cousin2 is the geneologist for uncle's family
* CDL has no use for documents from uncle's family, so offered them to Cousin2
* Cousins 1 and 2 have equal claim to the documents based on kinship
* Now that Cousin2 wants them, so does Cousin1

As far as I see it CrazyDffodilLady did nothing wrong. Maybe Cousin2 should have spoken up at the beginning, but it sounds like the majority of the information was for CDL's family, where she is in charge of archiving the records. She took on the job of sorting through all the information and was never told what to do with any documents that did not interest her. Se made the decision herself, knowing Cousin2 archives for that side of his family. I think she should take pictures for Cousin1, who just wants to "look" after all and send the documents to Cousin2.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: snowdragon on December 11, 2012, 04:33:08 PM
Does Anyone else suspect that the only reason why Cuz1 wants the documents is because Cuz2 expressed an interest?  If there are ramifications to the relationship with Cuz1 if CDL gives them to Cuz2 - there are equal ramifications in the opposite direction.
 
OP: you have a choice in either
A) picking the cousin you feel you want to continue a relationship with and giving them the dicuments
or
B) letting them fight it out.

I would be doing the later, but my heart tells me that Cuz2 should have them.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: crella on December 11, 2012, 05:26:18 PM
I don't know about that. She gave the documents to the OP to have them in a safe place and to have the person who wants to go through them do so. It doesn't necessarily mean that she wanted to give them away completely.

Quote
I know Cuz1 was dealing with a lot, but she could have 1)waited till she had time to go through everything to make sure there was nothing she wanted (I'm sure the OP would have been patient) or 2)Asked OP to do all the sorting and organizing and to let her know what she found from her father's line.

I doubt that she had the time or mental wherewithal to do that, considering. I just got done doing this, and making sure that the right relatives get the things that belong to them or interest them is another ball of wax entirely.Getting appraisals, or selling items, arranging dumpsters, contractors, real estate agent etc is all so...much....detail....to deal with. It was two of us, if she did this all by herself it had to have been hell. Distributing items or even feeling people out about them is another seemingly endless chore.My mother passed away , so there was no care of her after the move (and a move into a facility is extremely disorienting for a senior and there are weeks of adjustments) and I'm still so tired I'm just getting the bare minimum done since I got home. And if the house has to be emptied by a certain date you really can't wait.

I think Cuz1 just wants to 'put the brakes on' and have time to think things over.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: littlebird on December 11, 2012, 06:47:07 PM
First off, I've skimmed rather than read. But:

1. Photograph rather than scan. I work with historians and that's what we do all the time for our projects.

2. Is there any way you can say "I'm happy to return the documents to Aunt/You and OtherCousin, but I'd like to make digital copies of all of them first"? That way you have copies (the ones you keep on one harddrive, and then the ones on a backup drive), and the originals go back to the people who want to fight over them?

(Digitizing has proved to be a huge help in my extended family - my dad and one of his cousins have scanned or digitized every photo and document and now anyone in the family who wants can have a 'copy' of that picture/letter)
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 12, 2012, 09:31:46 AM
LadyR has done a great job of correctly summarizing the situation.  My comments are in red.
* CDL is the geneologist for her side of the family.
* Aunt had tons of family documents, mostly for her family.  Documents are for three families.
   1. Aunt's father / grandfather shared with cousins.  This is my area of expertise.  Grandfather had seven siblings.  I am in contact with descendants of most of them, and the "keepers" will receive originals after I make copies.
   2. Aunt's mother / grandmother shared with cousins.  Grandmother had nine siblings.  The genealogist for this side of the family is one of aunt's cousins. who will receive originals.
   3. Aunt's first husband / cousins' father.  I have little interest in these documents and do not need to make copies for myself.  Originals will go to either Cuz1 or Cuz2.
* CDL offerred to sort through all the documents, with the intention of keeping and archiving the documents relevant to her work, which seem to be the lion share.
So far, about 3000 letters from my father to his parents over a 40-year span and about 1000 letters to Grandma from her siblings.
* Cousin1 did the work of sending the documents to CDL, but didn't seem to have any interest in them.
Cuz1 stated several times that she had no interest in the documents.  I believe she was relieved to have a place to send the documents rather than putting them into storage with the rest of her mother's household items.
* Cousin2 is the genealogist for uncle's family.
Cuz2 has only recently expressed an interest in his genealogy, but Cuz1 has shown no interest. Cuz2 seems most likely to become the "keeper".
* CDL has no use for documents from uncle's family, so offered them to Cousin2.
* Cousins 1 and 2 have equal claim to the documents based on kinship.
* Now that Cousin2 wants them, so does Cousin1.
I suspect this is at least partially true.

As far as I see it CrazyDaffodilLady did nothing wrong.  Thank you. . . . .

My cousins had a lifetime to examine the contents of the boxes and never did so. Cousins were not aware of the contents of the boxes.  I saw no evidence that either of them thought about preserving the contents; it has been on my mind for a long time, which led me to tactfully ask about them as soon as I realized my aunt's house would be cleared out.

littlebird, Why is photography preferred to scanning?  I've now discovered that some of the genealogy charts (folded in a bound volume) are over 10 feet wide! 

It's my intention to digitize as many documents as I can manage (will take a very long time) and put them online for my huge extended family.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: stitchygreyanonymouse on December 12, 2012, 10:02:37 AM
I’m not littlebird, but in many cases (and with the proper skills and training), photographing is a better option than scanning because you can get a higher quality, better-nuanced, more detailed, properly colored copy through photography than with a scanner. Particularly for items that are so large you’d otherwise have to scan in pieces and then meld together (only if the camera is high-enough resolution, though).

Scanners that are available to consumers are rarely of a quality that is good for archival purposes—they’re really calibrated more for scanning in financial documents and the like.

Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on December 12, 2012, 11:03:31 AM
I’m not littlebird, but in many cases (and with the proper skills and training), photographing is a better option than scanning because you can get a higher quality, better-nuanced, more detailed, properly colored copy through photography than with a scanner. Particularly for items that are so large you’d otherwise have to scan in pieces and then meld together (only if the camera is high-enough resolution, though).

Scanners that are available to consumers are rarely of a quality that is good for archival purposes—they’re really calibrated more for scanning in financial documents and the like.
Can I really take a photo of a 10 foot wide document and expect the results to be readable?  I have a fairly nice digital camera.
Any tips for photographing a very wide document that opens from a bound volume?  I assume that the document needs to be vertical for best results.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: stitchygreyanonymouse on December 12, 2012, 11:33:18 AM
For something that wide, you would set up a tripod like someone described earlier in the thread, and then take head-on (or directly over, if you have it laid out on the ground—this is how museums take shots of large things, sometimes) photos of individual parts then merge them with a photo editing tool—not just shoot the full document in one frame. There is less edge noise and distortion with photographs then there would be when doing something similar with a scanner.

There are quite a few resources online if you search for "photographing large documents" and the like.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: snowdragon on December 12, 2012, 03:07:54 PM
Do you have a historical society near you or a college with a museum studies or art conservation program ? They could help you, if nothing else they can tell you how do to it right.
  Folks in these institutions are really wonderful about sharing knowledge.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: DCGirl on December 12, 2012, 04:50:33 PM
Do you have a historical society near you or a college with a museum studies or art conservation program ? They could help you, if nothing else they can tell you how do to it right.
  Folks in these institutions are really wonderful about sharing knowledge.

Speaking of historical societies...

When no one else in the family was interested and it was about to be tossed out, DH became the owner of a notebook that had lived in his grandparents' attic for decades.  It was a great aunt's notes from nursing school in the 1910s.  The great aunt died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.  After DH sent out a few e-mails to his cousins saying that it was really interesting to read what nursing students were taught in that era, several cousins came forward and said that they were more entitled to the notebook than DH (largely because we have no children and therefore no family to pass the notebook on to). 

We've located a medical school library that has a collection of medical manuscripts that has expressed interest in adding the notebook to its collection, and DH is planning to donate it.  The notebook is fragile, due to its age, and should be properly conserved and cared for by professionals.  There's been some grumbling from the cousins about this course of action, but they will be free to visit the notebook in the library if they so desire. 

Donating to a historical society might be a solution for other families as well.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: littlebird on December 12, 2012, 04:56:54 PM
For something that wide, you would set up a tripod like someone described earlier in the thread, and then take head-on (or directly over, if you have it laid out on the ground—this is how museums take shots of large things, sometimes) photos of individual parts then merge them with a photo editing tool—not just shoot the full document in one frame. There is less edge noise and distortion with photographs then there would be when doing something similar with a scanner.

There are quite a few resources online if you search for "photographing large documents" and the like.

That, exactly. And for scrapbooks, there's less danger of damaging the spine by trying to smush it on a scanner. (Plus, large-format scanners are expensive!)
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: sparksals on December 12, 2012, 09:34:23 PM
Do you have a historical society near you or a college with a museum studies or art conservation program ? They could help you, if nothing else they can tell you how do to it right.
  Folks in these institutions are really wonderful about sharing knowledge.

Speaking of historical societies...

When no one else in the family was interested and it was about to be tossed out, DH became the owner of a notebook that had lived in his grandparents' attic for decades.  It was a great aunt's notes from nursing school in the 1910s.  The great aunt died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.  After DH sent out a few e-mails to his cousins saying that it was really interesting to read what nursing students were taught in that era, several cousins came forward and said that they were more entitled to the notebook than DH (largely because we have no children and therefore no family to pass the notebook on to). 

We've located a medical school library that has a collection of medical manuscripts that has expressed interest in adding the notebook to its collection, and DH is planning to donate it.  The notebook is fragile, due to its age, and should be properly conserved and cared for by professionals.  There's been some grumbling from the cousins about this course of action, but they will be free to visit the notebook in the library if they so desire. 

Donating to a historical society might be a solution for other families as well.

This should be a last resort since no one else was interested in the document.  Considering Cuz1 wants it back and Cuz2 has expressed an interest, sending it outside the family is sure to alienate the OP and tarnish family relations forever.
Title: Re: Who gets the family documents?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on January 25, 2013, 08:07:17 PM
Update: I was dawdling about making a decision, what with the holidays and all.  Last week Cuz1 (who sent me the family documents) emailed asking when I was going to send her family things to her.  She said she had a relative who was also interested in them.

I wrote to her brother Cuz2 and said I was sending the stuff to Cuz1 because she’d asked to see it before passing it on to him (she did indeed say this).  He was gracious about it.   I did pull out items that were specifically about Cuz2 and sent them to him.  He was delighted.  The rest of the stuff has been shipped to Cuz1.

In the time since I first received the boxes, I’ve posted about 100 old photos to a family Facebook album, where the extended family can see them.  Several people have expressed appreciation. 

Stay tuned for the next episode, “Which grandson gets great Aunt Dorothy’s things?”