What is a pack rat? A pack rat is someone that collects a whole bunch of stuff and never really gets rid of it. Now, you might not necessarily be a pack rat, but there’s probably many things that you collect.

Why do we collect things?  Is it because they remind us about the past, is it a passion for the collectible, or is it because we have a tendency to save what we like?

Whatever the underlying reasons, most people usually collect something at even the most basic levels.

Some people (pack rats) like to save everything, while others have a few very focused collections.

Finding out what others collect can be very insightful into discovering personality nuances.

My grandmother for example loves to collect mice decorations (we’re not talking real mice here, but the cute little plastic and porcelain ones).  She has little mice dolls and figurines (large and small) in different poses and apparel throughout the house.  She signs her name with a little mouse design next to the side and has done so for years.  We could always recognize a letter from Grandma when we were young because of the unique signature.

Has the desire to collect mice statues been passed down to the rest of the family?  Not that I’m aware of, but my mother collects honey bee decorations and displays them throughout the decor of the house.

Me, I’m more of a pack rat, I just save everything I’ve ever owned (at least I try to save it for as long as I can).

Take a moment to jot down things you collect.  You could also write about the fun things that your ancestors have collected and if the collection was passed on or the desire to collect those things was passed on.

To give you a few ideas about what some people collect, see the list below:

  • Stamps
  • Coins
  • Rocks
  • Cars
  • Toys
  • Hats, shoes, apparel
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Books
  • Poems, quotes, and short stories
  • Furniture
  • Holiday decorations
  • Movies
  • Family history information
  • Pictures, posters, and trading cards
  • License plates
  • Musical Instruments
  • Paintings
  • Clocks and watches
  • Jewelry
  • Music
  • Flags
  • Bottles
  • Key chains
  • Sports paraphernalia
  • Sea shells
  • Sand from different places
  • Dolls
  • Stickers
  • Recipes
  • Insects
  • Tickets (sports, transportation, entertainment)

As you write about collections that you have or family members have possessed, you can note if you’re a Bibliophilist (book collector), plangonologist (doll collector), or numismatist (coin/money collector).  For a list of other collector names, visit http://www.pubquizhelp.34sp.com/misc/collect.html

Passing on information about what you or your ancestors have collected provides a unique insight into the personality.  Collections change over time.  Perhaps as a youth, you collected anything and everything that had to do with a certain movie or celebrity.  Now that you’re older, you might be a bibliophilist or a receptarist (collector of recipes).

Take a moment to jot down in your personal history what you’ve collected over the years and why you enjoy collecting the items.

Find out from family members what they like to collect.  Ask around to find out what your ancestors used to collect.  What they collect will probably tell a lot about the times and conditions in which the family lived.  You might find that an ancestor had a collection of two hand-made dolls.  Remember, a collection doesn’t have to be large to be a treasure to a family member.

Why do we collect so much stuff?  It can be a deep question.  Try to find out the answer for yourself and your ancestors.  You’ll learn a lot and have fun along the way.