In an effort to reduce the amount of physical stuff we have in our house; my winter project is to scan the photos that we have accumulated. As I see it, my job at this point is not to cut or cull stuff just reproduce it digitally.
Folks, this is a daunting task. I started in January with two boxes of my stuff which were mostly photo albums. The rest of it belongs to my wife. She has boxes from both her grandmothers plus her mom plus her stuff. I started with 8 boxes. There are more boxes that may have stuff in them but you gotta start somewhere.
During January, I finished going through about two and a half boxes. Thus far I have the following to report: 13,447 individual files and 159 gigabytes of storage space. There’s actually more but you get the idea. The age of the photos is about a 100-year span from the 1890’s to 1990’s. In addition, there are newspaper clippings, recipes, diaries, and other stuff.
One of the unique things in and amongst all this stuff are scrapbooks that seem to have their origin with people of limited means. One type of scrapbook from some distant relative was created from an existing book and that was covered on every page with clippings from various newspapers. Not only do you get deaths and births but entries into social pages, news articles, and a host of other things that seemed important to the person that created the book. Some are scrapbooks with five or six columns of articles on each page: front and back. The box I’m working in now has a few of these in the bottom. They look to be very labor intensive to scan. In fact, I may have to buy a book scanner to do them. I won’t really know until I start on them, probably next week.
To do this project, I’m using an Epson photo scanner (Model FF-680W). It works great but needs constant cleaning. This scanner does both front and back of photos. In addition, it also tries to auto-correct color. I am also using a multifunction HP printer/scanner (Officejet Pro 7740). Most photos have been done at 1,200 dpi and other things have mostly been 600 dpi. I am using both the Photo app in Windows 11 and ACDsee photo software. The software is mostly for cropping and touching up the things that I scan.
An example of what I’m scanning is Grandma’s scrapbook for the 1946 road trip to Glacier National Park, Canada, Utah, and other parts of the West. She has 109 pages for this road trip with receipts, postcards, personal photos, handwritten narrative of each day and so forth.
Not only is it an insight into my wife’s family but also a glimpse at post-war America. An additional ten pages in the scrapbook were for a much shorter trip in 1947. This scrapbook yielded 660 files.
I know I won’t complete this project before spring, but I hope to make a dent in the pile.
Next, I will need to tag people in the photos and try to sort them by year. Part of this will allow the first cutting of unknown people out of the pile. This is afterall a genealogy project, at least in part. Of course, if the children don’t get going with grandchildren, then this project will lose much of its importance.
I must say that I have a greater appreciation for the resilience and determination of past generations as a result of this project. I have so little information about my own family that to see another that did try to give to the next generation evokes many emotions in me.