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(24 Posts)
Cabbie21 Mon 15-May-23 07:14:32

The internet facilitates all sorts of communication and I wouldn’t be without it, but the lack of paperwork can be problematic.
As some of you know, DH has recently died and it is hard to access some of the information I need. Bank statements are online, so are his lists of contacts, and much more. Some things just take longer to find than if they were on paper in a filing cabinet.
On a lighter note, I found a deed box which belonged to his late mother. Amongst the official paperwork are hand-written letters, some from long ago. They provide a treasured account of family events eg his grandparents’ Ruby wedding anniversary tea. Fascinating reading. Then it struck me how future generations won’t have this as hardly anyone writes newsy letters, and few send cards. Texts, emails and WhatsApp are very useful but won’t be available for our descendants to discover in a deed box!

NotSpaghetti Mon 15-May-23 07:18:21

Wherever it's stored it certainly takes up way too much time!

Germanshepherdsmum Mon 15-May-23 07:38:26

What a lovely discovery. The last person with whom I exchanged regular handwritten letters died this year so it’s only email/text/WhatsApp correspondence now and short notes in Christmas and birthday cards.

I prefer to have things on paper, filed away, too. Never a problem with passwords or the internet going down!

Iam64 Mon 15-May-23 07:54:45

I’m with you here Cabbie21, the paperwork/on line admin after the death of our husband is time consuming. Mr i had written his passwords down which helped but it all took longer and was more complicated than I’d anticipated. The cotton wool that took over my brain didn’t help.
I’m almost clear of admin and moving on to his various box files. I found his notebook of a school week away when he was 11, first year at the boys grammar. Beautifully presented, with nest hand writing, perfect grammar, punctuation. Interesting comments in the activities and of course excellent illustrations. It was unexpected and brought back what a lovely person he was.

GrannySomerset Mon 15-May-23 08:37:30

DH spent a term in Cambridge as a schoolmaster fellow doing the groundwork for what eventually became an MPhil thesis on Chaucer’s colour vocabulary, leaving me with two young children and in term 2 of my degree course. I recently came across the letters we exchanged, almost daily, and the people we were then came so vividly to life. I am grateful to have this reminder of the ups and downs of that term, the trivia and the new things we were both encountering, though I doubt they will really interest anyone else. Can’t throw them away though. The sight of DH’s handwriting and his preferred turquoise ink still makes my heart beat faster.

fancythat Mon 15-May-23 09:38:03

My DH gave one of my son's, the passwords.
But quite frankly, my kids would have to sort out the online stuff. All beyond me.
There is much business stuff on there too. We are semi retired, but even so..

Kim19 Mon 15-May-23 09:49:57

Yes, I have everything important backed up on paper and in a fireproof box. Seems more helpful than rooting around passwords and possible technical failure.

fourormore Mon 15-May-23 10:04:50

When my Mum died in 2009 we 'inherited' a huge box of loose photos and a filing cabinet full of her school and nursing certificates etc. We had it at home 'to sort out during dark winter evenings' but of course it never happened.
Then along cam Covid and we were having to shield - home all day, everyday. DH took over cooking and housework and I created a system to sort it all! I'm not sure who had the worst job to be honest!
A massive weeding out session was first but there was still a mountain left so the only way to do it was to create a full list of family names, births, weddings, deaths etc. plus a list of other events. Thank goodness for the laptop then!
Next many boxes (labelled by the decade!) were needed to 'file' photos/papers etc. followed by decades sorted into years.
Thanks to on-line shopping I bought scrapbooks etc. and now have a collection of 27 volumes recording our family history from the mid 1800s to date!
Surprisingly our son has instructed us to leave it to him in our wills as he loves them so the photo mission was worthwhile! It took months and months and would never have got done if we hadn't been under house arrest in Covid times.
I would recommend that anyone who finds things like this finds some way of preserving them as phones etc. will all disappear into cyberspace!

grannybuy Wed 17-May-23 11:15:49

I like paper copies. I sometimes print copies of photographs I’ve taken of online documents for my files.

teabagwoman Wed 17-May-23 11:18:05


Thank you for your post. I’m having to sit down a lot at the moment and need a project I can work on. I have a large box of family photos, though thankfully not as large as yours, and I shall make a start this afternoon.

Scottiebear Wed 17-May-23 11:21:54

I agree that lack of paperwork could be a problem. I have a fireproof document bag which holds passports, house deeds, etc. But I have a notebook which lists our bank accs and any important info that our son might need if anything happens to us.

Vintagegirl Wed 17-May-23 11:23:18

Thank you for raising this topic. It is very hard to know what to do with mementos of past times and people. My father kept a lot of things though was not a hoarder. I now have an notebook of a week's scouting when he was about 10 yrs old in 1926. He was an only child and only granchild so many family items came to him. Now I must decide what to keep and what to dispose of .... and how best to keep.

knspol Wed 17-May-23 11:34:34

Cabbie21, I know exactly what you mean! My DH passed away last year and it's only recently that most of the paperwork is sorted. I'm not computer savvy and when emails etc come to me about banking stuff, insurances, council tax whatever I print them all out and file them and then I know exactly where to go to check anything. I've spent hours pouring over my and late DH's computers and i-pad looking for various items. When it comes to sorting out income and expenditure it's so difficult to follow statements on line instead of on a sheet of paper were I can make pencil notes if needs be. Seems some banks really do not want to issue paper statements.

Theexwife Wed 17-May-23 11:37:47

There will be many more pictures of life as it is now for future generations, printed photos faded, got lost or were destroyed whereas photos stored online will probably always be able to be recovered.

In 100 years there is likely to be a way of recovering the long finished Gransnet Forum for people to marvel over what we thought and how we lived.

Thisismyname1953 Wed 17-May-23 12:21:37

After we married in 1972 my DH was deployed to Hong Kong with the army . I went with him . The people who wrote to me most were my 11yr old DB and my grandmother. Last week , over 50 years later I found a long chatty letter that my DGM sent to me just 3 months before she died .
It brought back so many memories , both of Hong Kong and of my DGM . I could almost hear her voice as I was reading it . Her death was 50 years ago this week and I still miss her .

Anniel Wed 17-May-23 12:51:44

I have enjoyed this thread so far and hope for more revelations. When my dear husband died in January 2009, I decided to do the work for probate myself as banks charge so much and I wanted something that helped to dull my terrible grief. He was an accountant and kept our finances in good order.
He was a member of the Motley Fool on the internet, so I told them I was planning to do the probate myself and the members on the investment pages told me to let them know any problems I had and so I did it. Took a while but I was so proud that I saved the expense and knew he would have been happy. From then on I did keep paperwork such as share certificates and correspondence. I have an old black box with all our birth, marriage and death certs plus passport etc. I am giving it to my son here in St Lucia with the keys but somehow know he will employ someone who knows what they are doing.My husbands sister knows that I am interested and working on family history so sent many old photos, the problem being they mainly do not say who is in the photo. I wish I had asked my sister more when she was alive. She was 6 years older than me and knew stuff! Always be nosey and ask things as now any cousins are either dead or live in other countries and I have nobody to ask about the family. This is a bit long but we could find out more if we were interested in family history at an earlier stage of life.

Grannyjacq1 Wed 17-May-23 14:23:16

I inherited a box full of old photos, documents etc when both my parents (in their 90s) died. With 4 siblings, and unsure of how to distribute the photos etc, I made a photobook ( a copy for each family) of their lives before they married in 1948 - this included a family tree, copies of birth and marriage certificates, addresses of places they had lived, their wartime service history, photos of long passed family members etc etc. with names and dates. I even managed to incorporate a QR code with a link to a photo montage of their wedding ceremony in 1948. It was a very therapeutic activity, and now all of my siblings have a copy of this which can be passed on to my parents' numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren eventually. Some family members ordered additional copies for their offspring etc. It was a fascinating and very worthwhile activity, and I hope the photobook will be more useful than a box of photos and documents.

Vintagegirl Wed 17-May-23 15:08:57

Well done Grannyjacq1 with photobook. I must do some more and include more items like certs. So far I have done a few on individuals but just of photos. I read an old letter with an address last week and today I took a photo of the house, where my father first lodged when he came to this city 75 yrs ago.

biglouis Wed 17-May-23 16:11:04

I sell online (as some of you know) but I am a great believer in keeping hard copies of all the transactions until I know the items have been received by the customer. Yes they are in old fashioned manilla folders, However if the internet goes down I know who has bought what, where to find it, and most importantly, where to send it! The hard copies get marked up with the tracking number in case the customer contacts me because of a delay - international purchases take the time they take and I dont want my clients to get anxious when they may have paid hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars for something.

Every piece of paper I print on is used twice - including any letter which has a blank on the back. All carefully cross shredded (of course) when finished with.

I also keep a page a day journal so I have not lost the skill of hand writing.

madeleine45 Wed 17-May-23 16:46:03

Yes , the internet can be very useful, but as an eldest, a lecturer and not trusting totally in any business, I prefer to have a paper copy of various things. All our family had loads of old photos etc but we write on the back when and where they were taken, especially because in those days of little money best clothes were used for several years for special occasions so you could see the same dresses in a variety of pictures and have to decipher who was in them etc. I lived in Portugal for 2 years and was both a teacher and also a professional singer in the Gulbenkian choir. So my letters over that time were a mix of personal things relating to the family, what music was going on etc and I also sent news of fiestas and happenings over that time. My mother kept all the letters and they have now gone to be a social history in a library of that time. I also do advise friends and family at occasions to make sure that they do put a few of the photos onto paper in case their phone/camera or internet goes down and they find they have nothing left to look at for that lovely occasion. I prefer to be rather negative sounding but have found on several occasions that having a paper copy of details have proved useful when companies try to flannel their way out of their responsibilities and simply being able to show them the copy of an agreement tends to get swift results as they see that I am going nowhere!!

CanadianGran Wed 17-May-23 19:36:00

My DH is much more organized than I am, but not very computer-savvy. He has insisted that I keep a list of accounts, passwords, etc in a file folder at the front of the file cabinet, and that all the kids know the folder exists. It really is a good idea, in case of anything happening. I try to go through the list once in a while to make sure everything is valid.

Even all the household bills; the companies are trying to push to online-only, but I do like to get statements so have resisted most. When my dear MIL died in 2021, I was not the executor, but there were a few points cards I was given to try to do something with. Luckily I had the password for one of them, so managed to either transfer or cash in some of the rewards which I either gave to charity or family.

Any yes, what to do about all the memory boxes? I have quite a few photo albums and boxes from my parents, from post war to the 70's. Do my children really want them, when they don't recognize most of the people in the photos? I don't really know the answer, and I'm afraid my DD will end up with too much stuff of ours to deal with, but don't have the heart to get rid of it.

Bella23 Thu 18-May-23 10:11:37

I have to admit I would find it hard to sort all our finances out on line if or when I have to.
Yet I sorted out all my father's business for my mother when my father died young. It was all paper and phone. He had left a very comprehensive list of who had to be contacted and their telephone numbers and everything was in a fireproof file.
Our DD's find it hard to get into our main computer as DH is always changing the password,on purpose who knows?
I have hat boxes of photos and letters that I have meant to put into order all winter and never got around to it. I really must do it.
I love reading the old Bills for wedding receptions etc. that are in there and I know one DD would like them.
My late MIL tried to do it with hers but wrote things like my dad or my grandmother on the back of photos which means nothing to my DDs. I mean to make a comprehensive family tree and mark all the photos with the people's proper names. Will I ever get around to it? I can't even read the Watchman for our oil store.blush

fourormore Thu 18-May-23 20:00:46

Teabagwoman (and several others who have said they have a boxful of photos etc.) please don't think your 'photo mission' can be done overnight but don't put it off if possible!
I'm so pleased that my post may have been useful - I was lucky when I climbed my mountain - firstly the covid lockdown stopped me going out anywhere - I was housebound all day, every day, so had no excuses. I also had a husband who knew very little about my side of the family so he left me to it, but he kept me fed and watered! He even did the housework!
It seems that my crate of some 3000+ (estimate!) photos was less than some of you have but my 'system' should work for you too!
We took a 'smaller box full' at a time and had two boxes in front of us - Bin or Keep! Don't worry too much about identifying who is who too much at this stage! Gradually working through the whole lot you should end up a much smaller but nonetheless 'big enough' box of photos potentially to be kept.
I thought the next step would be sorting them all into 'decades' but soon realised that I needed a list of 'dates' - dates of births, marriages, deaths, different addresses, events, university dates etc. I did this on a spreadsheet with names down the side and then a column to insert dates etc. That was a bind but it made it so much easier to then sort them into the correct decades!
The 'dates' list can be added to or amended if you find clues along the way!!! What a help if a photo has the name, place taken and date on the back!!! Sadly not many did!!!
Only when the decades are sorted into individual years can you even think of putting them into albums. My advice is - don't rush into that as it is law that you will find others that should have gone in earlier!
I bought spiral bound white page albums from a well known store but bought on line. My thought being that if I bought from a well established source I could buy more at a later date and have them matching.
I also left 5 or 6 pages blank at the end of each album so that should further things turn up, they could be put into the nearest album chronologically. When weeding the filing cabinet we found GCE certificates gained by my Mum when she was in her fifties! They are now in the nearest album for those dates.
Although I say it myself, my end result is a masterpiece and I don't regret a minute of the months it took to complete.
Good luck any one who gives it a go! It's well worth it - albums are great to look through without the need of technology!

teabagwoman Sun 21-May-23 09:27:26

Thanks for your advice. I’m following you in sorting into decades and rather regretting having started an album without doing this. Now wondering if I can remove them and start again as it would make much more sense. Just weeding out all the duplicates and uninteresting and damaged photos has made the task seem much less daunting.