Faced with plenty of time on my hands, I seek out productive things to do.
I’d always been aware that we could be victims of fire or flood. You hear stories of people who lose their family photos and heirlooms. That realization created concern. The older the kids got, the more pictures and valuable keepsakes we had in the house. There had also been relatives who had passed away and left us sentimental family documents. So how do you preserve such priceless things?
One of my husband’s cousins used a photo site to share pictures of her daughter. Also on the site were a few old pictures of her father. Seeing them, I realized I had boyhood pictures of her Dad she may not have seen since Grandma had passed them down to my husband and me years earlier. I wanted to share them with her and others in the family, including my own descendants. The task of scanning the piles and albums of pictures we own seemed daunting, but I decided to start somewhere…..with the oldest. I pulled out the photo albums of old family pictures and started scanning them – the big ones, the little ones, the funny ones, the classic ones. I made sure to label the image with whatever information I had in writing or knew about the picture.
After our collection of historical pictures for each group/side of the family was successfully on the computer, labeled and in order of time; I began to choose and scan pictures of our three kids, creating a “history” file for each of them which chronicles their story from birth to present. It was fun, albeit time consuming. When people asked if I scanned all of our pictures, I would answer “just the best 5,000”. Truthfully, it was likely more than that. I also created history/life story files for husband and myself and a file of our story together from dating to present.
Before and while I was doing this project, I was also organizing the digital photos we had taken from 2002 to present, labeling and ordering them so they were easy to find. I had fun creating special files within the “Our Family” file such as “our homes”,”our cars”, our “Christmas pictures”, etc. As time allowed, I also organized their medical history, including baby books, and scanned much of it for easy access.
It has been tremendously satisfying to hear our kids say the pictures were easy to access for class projects or that they could easily find what they wanted to see.
Some advice to consider before you do a similar project:
– Before starting, decide how you’re going to organize the photos – by person, date, etc.
– Have good software in place – there are a million advantages to being able to crop, adjust lighting and enlarge. In experimenting, I found ways to make photos, documents and newspaper clippings much more crisp and easier to see/read. -I suggest not cropping photos unless you need them for something specific as you may later wish you had the background/rest of the picture (especially since you can enlarge the photos and see things you couldn’t with the traditional printed picture). Being able to zoom in on old pictures and identify those who were previously mystery people was a surprise bonus.
– You could reduce project time by scanning 3-4 pictures at a time, cropping later only if you need to. Better if they are from the same date or event for labeling purposes.
– Scanning pictures should put them in a specific place/folder in documents/pictures on your computer. I found doing scans 10 at a time and then labeling them kept me from having to shuffle through too big a pile of photos again to find dates/descriptions from the originals. After scanning and labeling, the pictures can be moved to their proper folders.
Each person in my family has three folders in “My Pictures”, labeled “History” (a story from birth to present), ”Misc.” (special groups, events and activities), and “Documents” (certificates, report cards, etc.) that can be viewed at a moment’s notice.
The computer will automatically put pictures in alphabetical order. I found the only way to keep pictures in the order I wanted was to number them.