Make a Resolution to Preserve Your Expat Paper Trail

7 January 2013

At expat fairs we often hear from people with very different approaches to managing all that paperwork and assorted ephemera that accumulates while living abroad. There are those who say, “I’ve thrown everything away. I can’t hang on to it when I move” and then there are others who tell us, “I haven’t got time to sort through it all – there’s boxes and boxes!”.

Whether you’re a thrower or a hoarder, perhaps we can help. At the Expatriate Archive Centre, we collect life stories of expatriates, their families, accompanying partners, and repatriates. This includes life writings and diaries, photographs and scrapbooks, letters and emails, and supporting documentation – packing lists, rental contracts, school reports, tickets, invitations etc. We preserve them, in the language they are written in, for research and for the future.

So why should you donate your expat story to us? Here are a few good reasons:

  • You’ll be supporting academic research into expatriation – researchers need original source material
  • Your collection will be kept together, in proper archival conditions – better than a shoe box or an attic, and it won’t be split up or lost
  • It won’t cost you anything, wherever you are in the world – we can refund postage, and for larger collections we have an arrangement with Voerman International Movers
  • You can donate as you move around – a collection can be added to at a later date, so you can send your paper to us instead of throwing it away
  • You can request a free digital copy – once we’ve scanned your whole collection we can put it on a CD for you, much easier to transport and you can make copies for your family
  • Your story is important – no matter how many places you’ve been to, or how far you have travelled, you are part of the large and varied tapestry of expat life

And if you think your collection is far too big to sort through – we can do it for you! In an ideal world, every photo would be labeled and every document annotated before it came to us, but we know how busy the expat life can be. The most important thing is to get your material to us and let us sort, catalogue and scan it.

Privacy is important to us, and we will obtain your written consent before the collection can be used for research. All our staff and volunteers sign confidentiality agreements, and researchers are required to sign a research declaration.

Let 2013 be the year you help us to make expat history! Find out more about donating your story, or contact us for more information.