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Abstract

As families begin to experience the passing of loved ones from a ‘silent generation’, they will be forced to make decisions about the physical belongings of those who lived in a Depression Era mentality. Some of these choices will be easy, as one may possess little sentiment over a clock or a set of dishes. Other decisions will be trying, as these items will surely invoke conversations that make us reconsider the meaning of the words keep, want, need, and discard. This paper discusses the documents of Dr. Lloyd Mills (1927-2013), Professor Emeritus of English, at Kent State University. For Dr. Mills, words mattered. Amassing more than a personal archive, the family discovered an estimated collection of 275,000 to 325,000 hand written and typed documents upon his death and were in no way prepared to make so many necessary decisions with a collection this size. While one conscientiously makes choices in their own life about the documents they desire to keep, intimately preserve, and discard, many of us will be forced to become a personal archivist to a scholarly family member and make critical choices that challenge our associations to these documents as they relate to significance, nostalgia, and ownership.

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