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First of all – any of you complaining how bored you are sitting at home; you DO realize that you are literally living the dream of every homeless person on this planet? The many millions of them that would love to feel the comfort and security of a safe haven.

Second – if you claim to be bored because apparently hanging in shopping malls buying useless junk and indulging in gluttony in bars and restaurants was the only pleasure for your amoebic mind; I feel sorry for you. Not to mention the complaints about having to watch and homeschool your own children... Perhaps now you see, why they do not amount to more than D minus or that perhaps the teachers complaining about their unruly behavior were not that strict after-all?

And if your significant other is driving you crazy, you obviously chose to get hitched to the wrong person.

There. These basic grievances having been aired, I DO have some great ideas from my professional point of view of how to put this unexpected extra time to a very good use. As an archivist, one of our biggest challenges is to decipher inscriptions on back of photographs a la ''me and my cousin at grandpa' s farm last summer". Who is "me"? Name please! What was grandpa's name? Where was that farm? What year did "last summer" take place??? As silly as it seems, one can never record too much information.

As sad as it sounds, some day you will be gone and all the memories you currently store in your brain as self-evident facts, will be buried and gone. So please, write down names, dates and any other relevant info on the back of photographs. And print out some of the photos currently stored on your smartphones!


All you have to do, is imagine, that someday somebody who has never met you, would like to learn more about you and your history.


So why not sort through your old photographs and write down as much as you still remember on the back of them. And never fear that You and Your story was not important enough or speculate that "oh we were not famous, just regular folks, who cares about our lives..."


Nothing could be further form the truth! Every life matters in our collective memory, we are all tiny squares of a giant quilt of our diaspora. And you'd be amazed, how specific some re-search topics can be in the world of academia.


It is quite possible that someone will write a thesis on "Needlepoint Cross Stitching in the 19th Century Estonian Islands" and they come across this beautiful photograph of an exquisite pillow you are leaning on at grandpa's farm last summer and they would so very much appreciate IF they could quote where that farm was and what year the photograph was taken.


Ave Maria Blithe
writer photographer
archivist at Estonian Archives in the U.S., Inc.


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