When my great-uncle Creighton Cornwell was visiting his family in Nevada in 1991, his entire Oakland, Calif., neighborhood was incinerated in a wildfire. He salvaged a single teacup.
Mr. Cornwell, then 87 years old, kept a few records in a safe-deposit box, such as a marriage license, birth certificates and mortgage documents. After the fire, those records weren’t enough to get his life back in order. Mr. Cornwell, who died in 1998, lost everything else, including insurance policies, medical records and irreplaceable correspondence and photos. Read more »