Treasure Chest Thursday: Return Address Labels

A few years ago I noticed that the address book we started when Mr. Pitman and I first married was getting hard to read because of all the corrections and notations. About that same time I also happened to notice that we receive current addresses each year on holiday greeting cards. It was then that I began tearing the return address labels off the envelopes. My original plan was to save these little snippets until I’d made the corrections in my address book, but in the name of honesty, I’ll admit that the whole updating thing never happened.

I’ll tell you what did happen if you promise not to think the words “lazy” and “unorganized” when thinking about me.

Oh, never mind.

They were put into an old stationery box. A box which today – for the sake of this post – is going to be labeled a treasure chest. And really, that’s what I consider it now because one day a few years ago while looking through the box for an address I noticed a label belonging to a loved one that had passed away within the previous year.  Rummaging through the box I realized that I had collected several return address labels for family and friends who had died since I’d begun collecting labels. These little relics contain the address of the last residence of many people I love and now mourn.  I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away even though they are no longer useful for sending mail.

Clearly, I needed another reason to save them. Would they be suitable for genealogy?

Maybe these address labels will make it easier for future family historians to find relatives someday in, say, the 2010 census abstracts because their place of residence would be easily identified?  Okay maybe not, but I do have a sound historical reason for keeping them. They serve the same purpose as the birth certificates, marriage licenses, funeral cards and similar papers lovingly stored in permanent file folders labeled with the same names. They are just one more piece of memorabilia documenting the life of someone in the family tree, but what makes it particularly special is that the people named on those labels actually sent them to me personally. Now that’s a treasure!

This post is linked with others at

About pitman6

I love genealogy! I also love helping others trace their genealogy. I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, and a volunteer researcher with the Hamilton County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.
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2 Responses to Treasure Chest Thursday: Return Address Labels

  1. Open my address book and all the little torn envelope corners with address labels are every to be seen. I soon realized I wasn’t every going to erase and rewrite the addresses to I began using scotch tape to put them over the old address. One brother-in-law has a address record 6 layers deep! 🙂
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Wendy says:

    I have a box full of return address labels, but I never thought of them as genealogical relics. Thank-you for elevating my laziness and disorganization into one of noble purpose.

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