If You Can’t Use Gold Plates

by William G. Hartley

Don’t let your life fall apart—your life history, that is! We have been asked to keep family histories and to preserve them for the generations that will come after us. Here are some suggestions to keep your memories alive:

Pictures and Photographs

  • Don’t store pictures in magnetic page albums. Instead, slide them into an album that has clear plastic sleeves, with at least one side open so the pictures can breathe.

  • Never do anything to a picture or photo that is irreversible, like gluing.

  • Photo albums with pages made of paper (except acid-free paper) are usually of poor quality, so they should not be used.

  • Identify your pictures by writing on the back, or on the front border (if there is one) with a medium soft pencil or a low-acid ballpoint pen. When writing on the back of a photo, write along the edges so lines don’t press into the main part of the picture.

  • Instant-print pictures are highly acidic and won’t last long. Prints from good quality roll film are much better and long lasting. Black-and-white pictures will outlast color prints.

  • Framed photos will fade due to exposure to sunshine and fluorescent lights, so it’s a good idea to make an extra print to keep in a safe place.


  • Bargain scrapbooks won’t last long. Pick the best quality you can afford.

  • Don’t use rubber cement, paste, or brown liquid glue. Use a glue stick instead.

  • Newspaper clippings won’t last long since newsprint breaks down very quickly. Photocopy clippings and save the copy.

  • Don’t use magic markers or felt-tipped pens for drawing pictures or for lettering. Those fat ink lines will quickly bleed through to the next pages.

  • Transparent tape will lose its stick in just a few years; try to avoid using it.


  • Don’t buy bound books whose pages feel cheap and fragile. Select a book with a durable cover and good, sturdy pages.

  • Include the full date—day, month, and year—with each entry. Then, if a page is lost, you can still know the month and year of all the surviving entries.

  • Consider making copies of your journal onto good-quality photocopy paper.

  • If you must mount something in your diary, use a glue stick.


  • Open letters and keep them flat in manila folders.

  • Put extremely valuable letters in clear plastic page protectors so that you can read both sides without handling the letters.


  • Ideal storage is a cool room with moderate humidity.

  • It is best not to store paper products where temperatures fluctuate dramatically, such as attics or garages. Keep your items away from direct sunlight, fluorescent lamps, heater vents, air conditioners, or pipes that might leak.

  • Too much humidity can trigger acid reactions in paper, cause mold, warp paper, and make ink bleed. Car exhaust and cigarette smoke are especially harmful to paper of any kind.

  • Store cassette tapes in their protective cases. Keep them away from heat, cold, and moisture. The two worst enemies of audio tapes are dust and magnetic fields.

Scholarship Boy

Gbenga Onalaja is the only Mormon at his Catholic school in Ibadan, Nigeria, and he is a little bit shy. So when a visiting archbishop asked a question at a school assembly of more than 1,000 people, Gbenga hesitated more than a minute before he answered the question.

“After his remarks, the archbishop asked the question ‘Who was Saint Martha?’” says Gbenga.

The Catholic designation of “Saint” threw Gbenga off a little bit, so he didn’t raise his hand. After several moments of uncomfortable silence, however, it appeared that no one knew the answer. Gbenga knew what he had to do.

“I raised my hand and the archbishop called me up to the front of the assembly. I was nervous and my leg was shaking, but I managed to answer that Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus.

“He then asked me to explain, so I told him what I knew. It was easy because I had learned it all in church.”

The archbishop was so pleased with Gbenga’s answer, he rewarded him with a scholarship for his last year at the school. Gbenga was also able to tell the archbishop about the Church.

Gbenga, who is a deacon in the Ibadan Third Branch, says, “Since that day, I have been referred to as ‘scholarship boy.’ Every time I hear that phrase, it brings back good memories and reminds me to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.”

Sisters in Service

Jessica and Shannon Harmon, both young women in the Corvallis (Oregon) Fourth Ward, put some muscle into helping people in the city of Uzhhorod, Ukraine. A city volunteer organization collected 27 tons of medical books, supplies, and medicine. The young women helped to sort and stack the shipment as a service project.

Did Them All

“I like to be different and do things that no one else has done,” Cheryl Brooks says of her latest accomplishment. Instead of completing just 28 Personal Progress goals while she was a Mia Maid in the Highland (Utah) 14th Ward, Cheryl decided to do every single experience listed—115 in all!

“There were times when I wondered if Cheryl hadn’t bitten off more than she could chew,” says her mother, “but that just made her more determined.”

Because of her tremendous effort, Cheryl has gained a greater appreciation for her family history and has learned to rely on Heavenly Father to help her accomplish what she wants.

“I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile, and it taught me so much about the gospel,” says Cheryl.

Blind Faith

Young Women in the Park Ridge Ward, Brisbane Australia Stake, are not content to wait for service opportunities to present themselves. They go out and find them. For their service project a couple of years ago, the girls went to a nearby blind hostel and visited the people who were staying there.

“At first, everyone was a bit nervous, not knowing where to go or what to say. Gradually the barriers of age and sight were overcome and the young women were chatting and learning about their new friends’ lives,” says Sariah Wesener, a Laurel.

The girls made the project a monthly activity, and were soon performing concerts for their newfound friends. After travel became too difficult, the girls had to say good-bye to the residents of the blind hostel, but they have decided to find ways to serve others every month.

This year, each girl is donating a can of food per month to those in need.

No Stopping These Two

You can’t slow down Paul Quinnell and his dad, John.

Paul, 17, a priest in the Sutherland Ward, Mortdale Australia Stake, enjoys playing field hockey, attending early-morning seminary, and playing computer games. He even likes to be on time for meetings!

When Paul was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, he kept right on going to seminary and Church meetings, and serving as teachers quorum president, while receiving chemotherapy. The disease has been in remission until recently when he had a relapse. With intensive chemotherapy, it is once again in remission. Paul is now waiting to undergo a bone marrow transplant.

And what is it you can’t slow his father down about? Telling everyone what a wonderful son he has!

Friendship On-Line

Marni Adams has friends all over the United States. Every month, they get together and talk about gospel subjects, ideas for Mutual activities, and what they’ve read in the latest issue of the New Era. No, Marni doesn’t travel a lot, and she doesn’t have a huge phone bill. Every month, Marni and her friends “chat” on their computers.

“Our group includes people from all over the country,” says Marni, a student at Ricks College. “Only a few have actually met in person, but even those who haven’t are still great friends with each other.”

Known as “Smilin’ Sue” on the computer, Marni says that through advanced technology, people who would have never become friends otherwise now really love each other.

“Probably the best thing about making friends on the computer is that appearances and age don’t matter. It’s a lot easier to really get to know people,” says Marni.

Blanketing Their Town with Service

The Young Women in the Clinton Ward, Jackson Mississippi Stake, decided to spend the month of November serving others. After hours of cutting and sewing, each of the young women donated a completed lap quilt to a nearby retirement community. They presented the quilts as Christmas gifts and also presented a short musical program.

“It was wonderful to be a part of a group effort and to see the smiles on the faces of the residents as we performed for them. This is what Christmas should feel like,” said one young woman.

To the Bishop with Love

Young Women in the Shelley First Ward, Shelley Idaho Stake, wanted to learn a useful skill. They also wanted to let their bishop know how much they loved him. So they decided to learn how to crochet to make him an afghan. After weeks of hard work, fun, and some frustration, the girls presented their beautiful gift.

“The blanket will remind the bishop of how much we love him every time he uses it,” said one girl.

Photography by Matt Reier