Once you become the keeper of family history, it is interesting how quickly your boxes of old photos multiply. At first you are excited to see each one and then later you realize that it has become your responsibility to scan, label and archive them. I recently learned useful tips. Let’s look.
First the bad news, I haven’t discovered some remarkable, easy way to scan and label those pictures in one fell swoop. There are tools that help like faster scanners multi-photo scanner. One that I have used is the Epson Fastfoto Scanner. It does both photos and documents, and you can have it can the front and back of the photo. While this is helpful, the front and back of the photo are photo one and photo two, not photo 1a and photo 1b. You need to keep the photos together in that order or use great care and you rename the files to keep the fronts and backs together. I must say that this was extremely useful for photos from the 1950s and later. You cannot use this for anything that has a thickness such as studio photographs.
The flatbed scanners are useful for doing those large cardboard backed photos and other documents that you do not want to risk exposing to auto feed. I do think that more people are finding their cell phones make excellent scanners—especially if you are visiting a library or historical society and need to make copies from books or other paraphernalia. This is also a great way to get copies from old family albums without damaging the album or the pictures. You can simply point and shoot, or you can download a scanner app to your phone. It is sometimes more challenging to keep the perspective, but practice makes perfect.
I am a firm believer in having multiple backups so remember to copy those scans to your computer, the cloud, and an external hard drive. A friend recently lost much of their genealogy research because their computer crashed, and they had no backups.
As you are busy scanning, remember to label the photos clearly so that you can find them again and that they will be of value to someone else in the future. I have struggled with this part myself. I go on a binge of scanning and then am overwhelmed by the number of files that need to be labeled with comments. It takes time but it is important.
I recently attended a course by the Ontario Genealogical Society related to tracking documents between Ancestry and Desktop Software by Linda Debe. (Home - The Sleepless Genealogist). It was excellent and she had a tip when labeling photos or documents in Microsoft Word that will help make the labeling process go a little faster. Go to Documents (or Photos) Folders->Under the View tab, choose the List View and then Details pane. You can then choose a photo from the list by clicking on the box to the left of the title. You will then see a preview panel on the right of your list of photos or documents. It gives some details, but you can add tags to the photo or additional comments such as the list of the people in the photos and add a title. Be sure to choose save. This is much easier than opening every photo and then right-clicking to find the properties and then making the changes. If you have a lot of documents and photos to label online, give it a try.
As we settle in for these winter months, put on a good series on the tv or your favorite tunes and devote one afternoon a month or week to scanning and labeling those important documents and photos.
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.