I’m now half way through trying to identify reasons for why I’m keeping some of the original letters and cards. I’ve listed the items I’ve not destroyed, given each of them a short description, and outlined in a few words why I’ve kept each item. Now I’m trying to categorise the reasons.
This part of the exercise has been illuminating. As I’ve been going through the items I’ve retained, I’ve needed to refer to the full set of scanned documents to identify relative dates and activities that have come before and after. This has made me realise just how good it is to have such easy access to all one’s friends over all these years. Their writings are all there, in full technicolour and expanded detail, at the touch of a few keys. It really is amazing.
The task of categorisation is really a rote one: you need to make a first pass through and then adjust a few times to settle on the most appropriate categories which overlap as little as possible. I’m only halfway through right now so can’t provide any categorisation at present. However, I can say that I’m doing this analysis over 265 items sent by 59 individuals. I have a feeling that the reasons for keeping are going to be significantly different from the categories identified from the analysis of documents saved from work documents and mementos.
There is one significant issue that has already reared its head in this reasons-for-keeping work. It seems that the question of who is going to look at this material is affecting the judgements I’m making. For example, if it was only going to be me looking at these missives, I believe that the collection of items I would retain would be different from the collection I would retain if others were to be looking at it. The possible categories of other people could be: family, friends of the people who wrote the missives; any of my friends who don’t know the individual who wrote the missive. I have yet to understand the impact of this insight. It’s possible I may need to be clear about who will see the collection of originals and adjust the originals I keep accordingly.