So many folks are "tidying up" with that nice woman on Netflix. Maybe you are, too, or you read her book...
Being a cultural historian means I can see that there is a lot of information to wring out of items from aged treasures to childhood ephemera. Vintage color schemes, representations of gender, means of production, quality of materials during wartime, slang, record of a subculture or who had access to what resources at a given historical moment... Reasons to keep it, whatever it is.
In other words, I'm a bit of a "collector." No, I'm not a candidate for that cable tv show where people travel paths through their junk to get to the kitchen. But between "informed appreciation" and driving sentimentality I have a hard time letting things go.
Over the years, I've found that knowing the story allows me -- and my clients -- to release the thing.
Here's what you'll want to record about the item before you release it:
What is it (material, color, dates)?
Who made it?
Who owned it before me?
Does it have its own story?
How did I come to have it?
What does it mean to me?
Take a photo or three of the item, and keep it with the information above.
Then pair a copy of the information with the item . . . and release it to someone you love or a related institution like a museum or historical society.
Got papers too? Yeah, that was a trick question. Everybody has papers... to get started on those, and on building a family archive, get my one-sheet on best practices for storage, handling, and containers HERE. You'll get Care & Safety of Your Family Archive right in your inbox!