– Documents that are saved as souvenirs and which serve as a support for memory, e.g., photograph albums, school notebooks, family correspondence, sometimes even travel logs or autobiographical texts, diaries for example.
– Documents that are kept for legal or administrative reasons, e.g., vital records like birth certificates or marriage licenses, copies of contracts, estate settlements, title deeds, diplomas, bank records, reports on renovation work.
– Documents of a more professional nature and connected with the kind of work done by a family member: manuscripts of lectures or professional talks given, reading notes, manuscripts of works in literature, science or music, documentation collected for studying a certain subject (newspaper clippings, brochures, etc.), datebooks, correspondence with colleagues.
– If a family member was the secretary or president of an association, choir, or club: minutes of committees or assemblies, circulars, etc.
– Sometimes papers are neatly arranged in files or boxes with titles affixed to them. Sometimes they have been stored loose in boxes and drawers, or on the shelves of a bookcase, making it naturally more difficult to analyze them. One often wonders if they are of use to anyone still, if they might interest someone—maybe a historian centuries from now? Wouldn’t it be easier just to toss everything out?