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Aug. 25, 2022

Old Documents, Photos and Donating Your Treasures

Old Documents, Photos and Donating Your Treasures

Colleen Marquise, Archivist at the Genesee Historical Collection Center, shares tips on sorting, storing, and donating your treasures to a historical archive.

Colleen shares some humorous antidotes about the many donations of historical records she has processed. She also shares how a library archive views your "treasures" and what types of things are most needed to help keep the history of your community. Collen talks about what institutions do with your treasured photos and pictures once you donate them.


In our highly mobile society, figuring out what to do with our old papers, photographs, and keepsakes is challenging. We accumulate boxes of possessions over a lifetime, and when moving, retiring, or upon the death of a parent, it sits in your house begging for a home. 

Your junk can be true treasures that preserve the history of your community or your family.   

What do you do with all those boxes and files that you will "someday" get around to sorting out? What is valuable, what is worth saving, and what is worth donating to a local historical society, library, or museum? 

Lastly, what are the best ways to preserve the photos of four generations of family members? Should you frame them or keep them in your basement or garage? 

Colleen Marquise is an Archivist at the University of Michigan-Flint Willson-Thompson Library and supervises the Genesee Historical Collection Center. She answers these many questions and more about how to sort out your valuable documents, how to store them, and whether they are worth donating. 

Colleen is also a historian and shares her exciting views about the collective trauma the Flint, Michigan, area experienced over many decades. The UM-Flint collection reflects archives of materials explaining the Flint Sitdown Strike, the Beecher Tornado, and the Open Housing Protests in the 1960s. She also discussed the relative lack of public archives about one of Flint's most prominent residents C.S. Mott. 

Colleen shares some humorous antidotes about the many donations of historical records she has processed. She also shares how a library archive views your "treasures" and what types of things are most needed to help keep the history of your community. Collen talks about what institutions do with your treasured photos and pictures once you donate them.

Visit the Genesee Historical Collection Center of the University of Michigan-Flint Library website. They have an extensive collection of fascinating materials available online or for you to see in person.  

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Colleen Marquis Profile Photo

Colleen Marquis

I am the archivist at the University of Michigan Flint. I am a native Michigander hailing from Detroit. I received a degree in History from Eastern Michigan University and a Masters in the Science of Information/Archival studies from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus. In my work in Flint, I focus on community outreach and the diversity of the collection. My research involved archives as locus of community memory and shared trauma.