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At some point in our life, we find ourselves sorting through family records that have been given to us or that we have created. It can be a difficult process determining what is worth keeping and what can be disposed. There are a number of reasons one may keep an item and emotional attachment is often the most compelling factor. Yet, personal records are a very important part of the OJA’s collection mandate as they provide a unique individual perspective on Jewish life in Ontario.

Archivists are trained in appraising records for their archival value, which establishes whether or not records meet the criteria for long-term preservation. However, there are some simple steps you can take to determine what records might be of interest to the OJA.

Records of value can consist of a range of material, but they are generally those records that substantially document the various aspects of a person’s life. Each individual possesses different amounts and different types of records.

Records that the OJA may be interested in can include (but is not limited to):

  • photographs
  • personal correspondence
  • diaries and journals
  • speeches
  • writings
  • artwork, drawings, doodles
  • occupational/professional records
  • organizational or business records
  • videos and films

Generally, the OJA is not interested in:

  • duplicates in any format where the original exists
  • poor quality photographs with little or no identification
  • sundries like cheque stubs, receipts, loose envelopes, or bank books (unless they are unusually significant)
  • travel documents like airline tickets, brochures or museum guides
  • personal identification documents like old passports and driver's licenses
  • unused items, such as notebooks, exercise books, and ledger books
  • plaques and other mounted items (unless they are unusually significant)
  • published books and religious texts
  • material originating outside of Ontario unless it is significant to the history of the person or family documented in other records

When in doubt, don't throw out!

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