52 Ancestors – Week #8 – Heirlooms – Keeping Track of the Important Stuff – Create an Inventory!

My mom used to say she wasn’t hoarding stuff, she was “holding it” for us. She referred to herself as the manager of the family “museum.” Since her passing, I have inherited that role. I’ve tried to be diligent about tracking who has what and where our treasured items are.

A situation this past week has shown me that I’ve slipped up a bit. On February 11th, my brother, Dean, proposed to his long-time girlfriend. Yay! Welcome to the family, Shellye! To tell the truth, she’s been part of the family for a while now. My first thought was to offer her the ring my mother wore when she married Dean’s dad (To clarify: Dean is my half-brother.) It’s not really her style but I wanted to make the gesture. After taking a photo of the ring, I started to wonder where a few of Mom’s other jewelry pieces went. As the executrix of my mom’s estate, I was responsible for inventorying and disseminating the items. So, it was concerning to me that I couldn’t remember who received my grandmother’s aquamarine ring. There was no will (more about that next week!) so we five kids pretty much just got together and chose what we wanted for ourselves and our children.

A flurry of texts ensued:


Then a couple of phone calls. Which were fun, because I got to “blab” about Dean and Shellye’s good news.

And then one more text:

Apparently, the ring went to my younger daughter, Meghan. And, she obviously knows me so well!

You may be thinking that I’m just totally disorganized and let things go “willy-nilly” without recording where they settled. Not necessarily the case! I’m usually pretty meticulous about recording where our important items reside. In fact, while participating in the 2015 Genealogy Do-Over sponsored by Thomas MacEntee, I inventoried EVERYTHING in the “family museum” aka the genealogy corner of my bedroom. Um – yeah – that’s typical of me. I made sure to note the location of my grandfather’s 1937 Urology report but neglected to write down who received the precious heirlooms from my mother’s estate.

Creating an inventory can be a godsend in the event of a home disaster. Years ago, we suffered a house fire. Trying to remember every item in the damaged rooms was pretty time-consuming. An inventory such as this would have been helpful. We were lucky not to have lost any sentimental items but if we had, an inventory, complete with photographs would have at least preserved an image of the treasures. Next week, I need to clear the room in preparation for some ceiling repair work. Having this spreadsheet will help me to put things back the way they were. Give it a try! It’s pretty easy to do.

Here’s a screenshot of the Excel spreadsheet I created:

The Yellow Highlighted row indicates each container. The rows below list the items inside the container. In the Photo column are the links to the pictures of each item.

Clicking on the link will open a picture of the object:

Want to create an inventory yourself? Here are the steps:

FIRST: Create your spreadsheet.
SECOND: Place all your photos in one folder. I named mine INVENTORY PICTURES. You don’t have to do this, but it makes adding the photo links much easier. (Note: I first tried adding actual photos in the cells but that became unwieldy really quickly – resizing photos, file size, etc.)


To date, there are 209 individual items listed. I guess I’d better go update the list with the location of the rings!!

“See” you next week, when the topic is “Wills.”

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