Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The "Genealogical Artifact Review Process" or The Whirl According to G.A.R.P. -- No Foolin' (April 1, 2014)

This past weekend our younger son and his girlfriend and our older son and his wife were home for what has come to be called the "March Extravaganza" -- an annual celebration of the March birthdays of our younger son, Christopher, and Molly's sister, Kathy.

Having both sons as a captive audience for most of Saturday, Molly got them to commit to going through possessions they left behind when they moved on as adults.  Saturday was a whirl of activity as things were brought down from the attic, storage boxes were retrieved and opened . . . and memories and stories began to flow.

The purpose of the possession review was to gather those items "the boys" wanted to keep so they could take them home when they left on Sunday. Then there were the items that they were sure they did not want.  Those items had to be processed through the formal, but perhaps little known, three-step G.A.R.P. process.

The second step in the process for unwanted items was to decide if the things had enough value (and were in decent enough condition) to go into a yard sale or off to Salvation Army.  The third step followed from any decision that the items were not worthy of offering in a yard sale or in donations to Salvation Army -- these items were booked for a one-way trip to the landfill.

I performed the crucial adjudication role in Step 1 -- the "Genealogical Artifact Review Process" or G.A.R.P for short. Any items that our sons were not interested in retaining and removing to their own homes had to undergo a rigorous review by me to determine first and foremost if they were worthy of keeping for genealogy purposes.  This is a delicate process and hard to describe, but when pressed repeatedly during the day I simply explained, "I know it when I see it."  At times this technical explanation did not sit well with the players and at other times it resulted in some derisive laughter when a particular item was deemed worthy of inclusion in the Class genealogica artifactus.

Now having earned entry into the class of items deemed "genealogy artifact" did not mean the item was necessarily pardoned from the one-way trip to the landfill -- it simply meant the item had been granted a reprieve for further processing. Items in the Class genealogica artifactus were subject to final review and determination as to whether they were worthy of permanent intact corporeal preservation or digital preservation via a final portrait session before a journey to the landfill.

Some examples of final decisions and photographs might illustrate the difficult and intricate nature of G.A.R.P.

Those of you who read The Prism faithfully might recall the recent post on "Preserving Ephemeral Treasures." That post dealt with the rescue of emergency sandals crafted by our older son, Jonathan, when his Crocs were swept away during a water crossing in the Hundred Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail. Those artifacts were formally restored to Jonathan's possession Saturday morning and he decided he did not want them -- so they were processed according to G.A.R.P. and were adjudicated to be worthy of digital preservation only.  They are scheduled for a journey to the landfill this coming weekend because they and their story have been preserved (see the post link above for the story and their formal portrait).

In contrast to the adjudication on the emergency sandals is the decision on the artifacts pictured below.  These items were also handcrafted -- by our younger son, Christopher. [Handcrafted items often score high on the G.A.R.P.  corporeal preservation scale!] The difference in the ultimate decision on the below items vs. the sandals is subtle and very difficult to explain to those not trained and experienced in G.A.R.P. -- so it is easiest to simply say that "I knew they were corporeal preservation items the instant I saw them. Case closed!" And what are the items preserved for future descendants? Fine examples of Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars and a Cub Scout Sailboat Regatta sailboat. They now sit on a shelf of artifacts awaiting their stories to be told to grandchildren and other descendants.

And that's how G.A.R.P. works . . . intuitively!

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All photographs by the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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  1. Oh! I recognize those items you've pictured here! Having four sons who've all been in Cub Scouts, we've participated in Pinewood Derbys in the past. I've also served as a Cub Scout Den Mother as well. I agree with your assessment that these are definitely worthy of keeping as family history treasures. =)

  2. John,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-4-2014.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you Jana -- as always I am honored to make the list. I had some fun writing that one. ;-)

  3. lol We need to a lengthy G.A.R.P process at my house. I'll read this again for inspiration when the time comes. :)