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Organizing and Scanning Your Photos

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   Are your pictures safe?   I've made sure that mine are in acid-free boxes, but organizing them further is a project I haven't gotten to yet.  The boxes sit on shelves in my closet.  The good news is that I'm starting to think about it (that's the first step for me <g>).  With all of the news reports about floods, fires and other storms, protecting my photos needs to move up on my priority list.

   When my children were small, I took lots of pictures.  Probably like most of you, we had them all developed and they went into a box or drawer.  When my mother-in-law would visit, if she saw pictures, she would turn them over and write on the back who was in the picture and the date.  This was pre-genealogy days, and I used to laugh at her and say, they're my kids…I'll know them.  Well, fast forward and now, unless there is something in the photo to provide a hint, I sometimes have trouble figuring out whether the picture is of my oldest or youngest daughter.   My mother-in-law was not a genealogist, but she was a smart lady!

   If you go to the Photo page of my site, you'll find an entire album of pictures.  These were given to me by my Dad…they were in an album which belonged to my great grandmother, Rachel Mackey Sprague Spooner.  There was not one photo in the album that was identified.  The album, with a velvet cover over wood, was falling apart and in order to preserve the pictures, I removed them from the album to store them in an acid free box.  Here's the mistake I made (don't do the same thing!).  I didn't keep them in order…maybe that would have provided some hints.  Today, I would have taken a photo of each page before I removed the pictures.  Although some of these pictures have since been identified, the majority of them are still unknown.   My great grandmother had 11 brothers and sisters, so I feel fairly confident that at least some of the pictures represent her siblings.  I've even sent some of them to descendants of her siblings, but alas, without luck.  So, if you recognize any of the pictures, please let me know!

   So is this a lesson for our generation?  We need to save and identify the pictures of our families.  I'm sure as I go through my boxes, I'll find duplicates as well as out of focus or poor quality pictures that I don't need to save.  But, I'll also have those gems which I wish previous generations had saved for me!  

   The first step is to scan the pictures.  A Flip-Pal scanner is ideal for most pictures.  It's portable, battery operated and light.  You can sit on the couch and scan while you're watching TV.   The Flip-Pal scans at either 300 or 600 dpi (I'd go with the 600) and stores your pictures on a small SD memory card.  You can then move them to your computer and edit them, adding the information about the people in the picture, when and where it was taken.  It's great for family reunions to grab pictures that have been passed down through other branches of the family.   The Flip-Pal scans pictures that are 4" x 6" but remove the top and flip it over and you can scan photos in place in an album or on the wall.  It also comes with software to "stich" together larger pictures…just flip the unit over and scan larger pictures in sections.  I've even heard of people scanning family heirlooms such as quilts and samplers.  Last fall, one of the participants of the Dublin Research Trip scanned a large original deed at the National Archives of Ireland.   

   If you're already a Flip-Pal owner, you have probably heard that in March, the company announced version 2.0 of the software.  You can go here for directions on how to download it.  If you're not already a Flip-Pal owner, you might want to consider a purchase.  Here's a link to their website, or you can click on the logo in the sidebar to the right. To learn more about the Flip-Pal, I've provided some links below.

   Happy Hunting!


Flip-Pal Genealogy Blog 

Flip-Pal YouTube Video


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© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2013