Tools of the Trade

During this time of confinement, we have an opportunity to make history. In many cases, we are stuck at home with our personal heritage collection of photos, letters and other items. If not, we still have our memories. You also have the tools you need to turn those raw materials into a lasting part of history.

In last week’s column, we learned how to identify and catalog our personal heritage collection. This week we will learn to start documenting those materials using the tools we have at hand. If you want to review any previous steps in our Heritage Backup, you can find the articles and worksheets online here:

The first thing you will need is a workspace. Pretty much any table and chair will do, but if you have the option, there are a few things to look for. Beware of hazards that could damage precious materials, like a gust of wind that could blow papers around or rain from a nearby window. You need light. The best is indirect sunlight without bright glare or harsh shadows, but any light will do.

Next, you will need tools to document the items and your own memories about them. A camera for documenting and a pad and pencil for recording memories will work. If you have a scanner and a computer, that’s great too.

If you don’t have those things, a regular smartphone can do all you need. You can use it as a camera, a notepad, and a voice or video recorder. You can even use it to share what you have documented.

Want to make St. Martin history? A phone is all you need.

Use the phone’s camera to take a photo of the item you are studying. For a printed photo, lay the photo flat on your table and use your phone to take a digital picture of it. Try to keep the phone steady: resting your elbows on the table can help. You can zoom in on your phone to make sure it came out well. If you are having trouble, try to find a location with more light. If there is information on the back of the photo, take a picture of that, too.

You can use your phone as a voice recorder to save your memories about your item. The iPhone comes with an app called Voice Memos, and Google makes a free program called Recorder for Android phones. Set the phone on your desk, start a new recording and record your memories about the item. It is a good idea to start with a description of the item so you can match your voice recording with the picture of the item. End the recording and start a new one for the next item.

To get started, find a couple items that have meaning to you and use the tools you have to save an image of the item and your memories about it. If you want to share your item and memories, find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook and send us a message with the photo and your audio recording. If you’re having trouble with any of the steps, maybe someone in your home can help and you can work together.

Are you ready to change history? Send us your photos and stories! Get in touch by writing in to [email protected].

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