I've subscribed myself to the Urban Outfitter's newsletter...yes, I have completely succumbed to this store. I just love all their products that are complete throwbacks to other decade's products. Or like 2008's Christmas gift to my Mum which was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
And of course I can't just click one link in their newsletter...I end up clicking a lot which ends up being a web window shopping experience on their website. Today I started perusing their blog which includes posts from other UU stores across the country. One particular post caught my eye. It featured an archive of letterheads from various well-known companies or individuals and the design of some of the letterheads were so wonderful to see. The quality of the design, the texture of the paper, the beautiful illustrations...and since the letterheads are accompanied with dates, it was neat to compare one decade to another.
I started thinking about how happy I was that such an archive (albeit a small one) existed, showcasing something as simple and seemingly unimportant as letterheads. But I think that's where the power of the archive comes through...its ability to transform something into a representation or reflection of a time. Perhaps we thrown our own meanings on archives that may make interpreting objects a more difficult process, taking into account our own biases. However, I think that's also one of the great things about archives, that different meanings can also be extracted from one object and become significant. These are some of the things that cross my mind when going over pieces of my family archive, whether it be a historic farm, a photo album, someone's retellings, or a piece of furniture.
Family archives, like other types of archives, while, perhaps, holding an overall kind of significance as recorded history and the fact that it can exist for future generations, ultimately hold a kind of personalized significance once meaning is thrust upon it. While that seems really obvious and simple, it justifies each family archive's existence in conjuction with everyone else's. While another family history might not be important for me, it can be assumed that it does for someone else.
And so for the letterhead archive, although not a family archive, the same kind of rules apply. And then things get really overwhelming for me and this makes me think about the other side of things...is there anything that could not be saved, ultimately? Why are some things inherently "more important" than others? Doesn't everything have a significance then and should be saved? While there's no simple answer, it helps me begin to define my own family archive and what it means in the wake of the loss of such a longstanding representation of my family's history--the farm.